For entrepreneurs, it is crucial to have a “compelling reason” that drives you and your business, and it is this which will help make your company resilient in the face of adversity.
Dato David Cheang, the highly successful founder and CEO of property development company DC13 Development in Singapore, said this while giving a speech as guest speaker at the Local Business Development (LBD) Forum at the Radisson Hotel yesterday.
“In business, apart from the vision and mission, it is important to have a compelling reason of why the company exists in the first place,” he said.
David had a truly incredible challenge to overcome to get where he is today. As he shared in his speech, his parents’ business left his family with insurmountable debts, and because he was the guarantor, David became bankrupt.
He shared that his compelling reason, his drive, was to help restore his family’s standard of living. Now, David has a highly successful career in property and real estate that spans over a decade.
“You must have a compelling reason which will drive you,” he said.
In addition, when talking about a company’s very reason for existence, its responsibilities and activities should always emphasise three things: it must benefit the country, the society and finally, the company.
“By building a new development, it helps with the country’s economy, improves the quality of life of the people and, last but not least, the company must have profit.”
He also highlighted the importance of truly learning and mastering anything you and your company do, recounting how he overcame a serious speech impediment when he was younger by practising speaking in front of a mirror.
“This episode of my childhood has had a big impact on how I run my business, by causing me to get really familiar with what I am doing, right down to the smaller details.”
His third point asserted the importance of “grit”, highlighting the importance of being willing to work hard and to put in the necessary hours to get where you want to go.
He recounted how he used to cycle to condominiums and passed his name cards to security guards in the hope of getting referrals. Whenever he was in an elevator, he would pass name cards to anyone he met.
One time, he helped the owner of a bubble tea shop close at around lam in the morning, before taking him around to prospective places he could rent for another branch. Later that morning at 4:30, he had sealed the deal.
“If others were to put in eight hours of work, I made sure to put in 16 hours or more, because I want to reach success at a faster pace, all for the love of my family.”
He then spoke on the importance of collaborating rather than competing.
“The market is always full of abundance. Therefore it is important to have an objective mind and to make friends instead of enemies.”
He spoke on how he established a partnership with RE/MAX Empire Property Group – one of the largest franchises in the world with a presence in over 100 countries. With this collaboration, he was able to grow his company from 39 agents to 1,000 agents in less than a year.
It is also important, he said, to have a vision.
“Think big! One way a business can be big is to use the universal language: make sure your business can also apply in other countries. A vision keeps the main objective of the business clear.”
“It’s so simple, but many people would often – lose sight and get distracted by the noises in the market,” he continued. So, the next time you get distracted, always remember to refer back to the vision.
“For me, my belief in the property has never .once wavered. I truly believed that real estate was the solution to my bankruptcy. Even though there were times when attractive opportunities presented themselves to me in other industries, I remained focused.”
Yesterday’s LBD Forum carried the theme ‘Building Resilient SMEs: Strategies for Business Transformation’ and was organised by Asia Inc Forum with major partner Baiduri Bank and media partner Brunei Press.
The forum saw the attendance of Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) Hajah Normah Suria Hayati binti Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama, Dr. Haji Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri as the guest of honour. She delivered a keynote address entitled ‘Diversification of Economy: An opportunity for SMEs to grow’.