Flight Attendant

I once had a friend who worked as a financial planner. He realised it was not something he enjoyed, so he left and become a flight attendant. After some time we caught up at my place. He mentioned how he began selling things from his travels on the internet and his profit for year end was in the thousands.

My friend had many natural skills that enabled him to analyse price discrepancies and begin his business:

1. His thriftiness. Some people look down on this quality but if it is not excessive and applied correctly, it can enable people to spot and analyse price discrepancies that others would usually miss.

2. His understanding of the product. He was trading in items that he had an in-depth knowledge of and could ascertain the true market value locally and internationally.

3. His familiarity with the Hong Kong market. He knew the products that would sell and how to sell them.

4. Modesty and humbleness. These traits enabled him to learn and grow with the business.

I grabbed a marker and started mind-mapping his business expansion plan on a white board, discussing every step of the way. He took a picture of the plan and began putting it into action. Two years later he stopped by my place, we had a similar conversation as before except this time his sale numbers had increased by eight-fold. I only asked for his sale numbers before to get a rough idea of the size of his business/operations, but in fact this figure alone can sometimes be misleading, so this time I also asked for his profit margin and total value of stock on hand as well.

After some discussion I started mind-mapping how to best tackle the current issues he was facing and how to further expand his business and market share. Two years passed and I heard that he started working at his own company on a full time basis along with his brother, and that he had opened a retail outlet in Hong Kong.

When starting a business getting an idea and the resources to start-up is just the beginning. What can be just as crucial is where you spend your resources and what direction you plan to grow it. As it grows, the manner of how issues are addressed can become increasingly important. Pushing ones’ strongest skills and competitive advantage is one thing, but being modest and humble enough to realise ones’ shortcomings and to be able to improve on them enable people and companies to spread their wings, which was definitely the case here.