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5 startup lessons to learn from this lady selling dumpling

August 30, 2016 CK Wong Category : , , ,

The GrabGas controversy last week didn't really come as a surprise, as it seems to be a modus operandi of some (repeat: some, not all) startups to:

1. Wow, we are planning on a cool idea to save the world (shhhh)
2. Let's try to get fundings first while, or even before building anything
3. Do some PR, looks good on media, scale top-line then hopefully exit one day

Sometimes, these bad apples are putting a bad name on "startups".

It was also last week I stumbled upon an old show re-run on Astro, "Tasteful Life 2" featuring a lady who shares her simple story of selling rice dumpling.

I am seeing such a big contrast of glorified startups wannabe vs ordinary person running a simple profitable business.

This is how she looks like

Owner of Sin Katong Rice Dumpling 新加东肉粽

I personally felt motivated by this lady with great little wisdom, or better said in Chinese "小人物 大智慧". While watching the full video is the best but you can at least catch the show teaser here.

There are so many simple yet meaningful principles to learn (or remind yourself) from this lady, not just for startups or entrepreneurs, but also for those who are employed.

#1. Start the day early and work very hard

Seriously, I think F&B operators are the most hardworking bunch. They usually start very early in the morning, and work their socks off throughout the day.

Most likely they don't spend (or waste) time on social media, or Pokemon Go, during work. Imagine how much more productive you are, if you allocate those time into business, work or self-improvements.

Yes, she works 365 days a year, except on Chinese New Year. How many Internet entrepreneurs or white collars out there can match her on this?  

#2. It is "We', not "I"

"We are very hardworking, we are little bees," this is what she said jokingly.

In fact, the show is titled: "小蜜蜂帝王粽 Happy Bee Dumpling", a tribute to her hardworkingness.

Besides the bees part, the keyword here is "We", which is always a mindset, or a better word to use than "I". Unless you are doing it all alone, it is always about the team effort.

#3. Do something you know, something not easy

She reveals that she has a mentor, it is her uncle who thought her all these (making and selling rice dumplings).

"My uncle gave me the chance because of my diligence," she added.

Moral of the story #1, if you are seeking mentor or investment, show what you've got first, not just by "the big idea" or a deck of proposal.

Moral of the story #2, start with something you know well, not just blindly following the trend by uberizing everything.

It is hard to imagine an entrepreneur without any special skills besides business or media talk. Even the dumpling-selling lady said: "This need skill, not everyone will be able to make it."

If we refer back to the GrabGas case, there will be an obvious advantage if one of your co-founders has some sort of programming skills if you are starting an Internet business.

#4. Doing more means you learn more

In every business or work environment, perhaps it is impossible to be fair like a weight balance scale when coming into collective contributions.

Doing more not only means you learn more, but you might also get more eventually, which will only benefit yourself, not others.

If you are the one doing more, that means the business cannot live without you, or you are the best one among your team. I can only imagine it will help in the long run.

"We must not be calculative," she said.

This is especially true at work, contribute first before asking for rewards. If you are the star of the team I see no reason why you won't be appreciated, if it is not now it will happen some where else, or some time in the future.

Read also: 3 mindsets to become an Olympian at work

#5. There is no free lunch

Again, another great little wisdom by this lady, "There is no such thing as free lunch."

For startups, don't hope for free money to attempt your home-run without sweating. If you don't take the risk who else is going to do so?

For businesses, go for "win-win" instead of "I-win-only".

"We have to work hard for everything," she couldn't have said it better.

There are many other F&B entrepreneurs like her out there, whom might understand the meaning of true grit and running a profitable business, more than those self-alleged startups.

Read also: 6 mindsets to avoid for new e-commerce startup


What say you?