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How to Create Simple Yet Accurate Business Reports and Records

In any business, there is endless paperwork involved. It would be a lot easier to get through it all if it were simple, concise, and to-the-point. If you’re wondering how to go about doing that, this list would help. 

Make the purpose clear

Write your title such that it stands out clearly and can be read easily. 

A short description consisting of a few sentences would be good. This description would tell readers what the report is about and what’s in it for them. Talk about how the information in the report can be utilised for their benefit as well. 

If you have a tag line – which would be a plus point – draw attention to it by using colour, font, or other available visual tools. 

Easy navigation is key for quick understanding 

Visual guides used right would help greatly in allowing readers to pick up the main points of the report. Text, graphics and images act as distinct navigation signals. These would make identifying the key points in the report easier for the readers and help them be efficient by allowing them to zero in on what’s most important to them. 

Headings and subheadings are must-haves in reports. They should be easily attention-grabbing, and should act as markers for clear differentiation between different sections of the report. Having adequate spacing around them would also be easier on the eyes. 

Stick to a format. If your first bold heading indicates one distinct section of a report, make sure your following headings are synonymous with defining each of the other sections as well. 

This uniformity would give a logical, simple structure to the report that makes it easy to peruse. 

Consistency is key, and it applies to not just headings, but other visual elements used in the report as well. Font size, colour, bullet points, etc. 

Ensure that your page numbers, footers and references are in the same place on every page throughout your report. 

Visuals, visuals, visuals 

When I say visuals, they don’t have to be bright and loud and all over your report. Colour is definitely a key factor here but your photos, charts, graphs, and any other nuggets of design would heighten the interest aspect of your work. 

It is important that these are clear, well-spaced, and add value to your content. Doing so would go a long way in helping the audience understand what they’re looking at better. 

Not only are valid visuals a great way to increase your report’s appeal, they also help in reinforcing your message and purpose. For instance, an image of a prototype being tested would add value to a report about that prototype. 


When it comes to maintaining an excellent record-keeping system, there’s a whole other set of factors that come into play. I can’t list them all (this article would become a lot longer than intended) but here are what I feel some of the more essential ones.

Capture the information

​Once the idea is out there, capture it. Open up an excel sheet or google doc which would start storing all these bits of information, little or big, and keep updating it. 

This doesn’t just have to be limited to ideas. The finances can be kept track of in the same way. Revenues, personal expenses, business expenses, miscellaneous transactions; these are all essentials that fall under the capturing process. 

Discipline and consistency are required in this process, but over time, it’s one of the most useful habits you can develop when it comes to business. 

There’s no need to feel the pressure of utilising the information you have right away. Keep collecting it for, who knows, a rainy day in the future. The habit definitely doesn’t hurt anyone. 

Just make sure the information you capture is detailed so that when the time comes for it to be used, you don’t have any missing details that would render it invalid. The date, product, transaction amount are some examples of the details. 

Save what you record 

It would be a sheer waste of hard work and consistent effort if your gathered information isn’t saved on a platform or software somewhere. Saving what you’ve recorded is giving it a potential purpose. 

This matters especially when it comes to your finances. Your copy of them could always be cross-checked with the bookkeeper’s so that the final information you have is as accurate as possible. It would be ideal do to this on a monthly basis, along with a review of the content. 

Check, double check, triple check

Just logging all the information is of no use if it isn’t accurate and right. Set a regular time for you to go through whatever you’ve captured so you can make sure everything is correct. 

The vetting could be done fortnightly, twice a month; up to you. Sticking to the schedule once you’ve set it up, however, is vital. Only after you’ve done the vetting and ensured it’s all in order can the information be considered valuable. 

I’ve talked about recording the details, but let me take this chance to emphasise on its importance. The nature of the transaction, the product, its purpose, the time of the transaction; these are crucial for the record to be accurate. 

Take action based on what you see

There’s no need to if everything seems to be in order. But if you do see something that needs fixing, fix it yourself or by someone else. Get the work done. 

Craft your to-do list in order of priority, starting with the most urgent one. If you see your expenses creeping up on your earnings, or worse, surpassing them, act. 

Make changes and accommodate your needs around the spending cut you’re going to incorporate. It’s important that these changes don’t have a negative effect on your profits. 

Collect your debts on time, and take the necessary action to make that happen. Dragging it out will be a downfall for you, not the other party. 


There are a lot more tips out there for effective business record-keeping and reporting, but for me, these six capture the essence of what a company needs fundamentally. 

If you have more of your own, that’s great. If your company is at a stage where there’s room for experimenting – or even better, it’s encouraged – then no harm in trying these out, I’d say. 

This list of logical, tested-and-proven steps might just help your company get the strong foundation it’s looking for. 

Source Credits: Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualitythe balance small business 

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The Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice in A Start-Up’s Pitch Deck

If you’re a start-up seeking funding, the way you pitch yourself to the people with the money determines everything. This is a situation where ‘what’s inside’ definitely matters. 

Here’s a list of what I take to be some of the must-have ingredients you need to cook up the perfect pitch deck. 

Company overview 

Starting off the deck by telling investors who you are is as basic as introducing yourself to a stranger when you first meet them. Some companies believe in throwing in a hook before introductions, and that’s fine as long as it resonates with the message going to be delivered moving forward. 

Around four short but informative points on who you are, what your company stands for, your history, and any achievements till date would be very helpful in giving your investors the initial insight they need. 

Making these few facts fun would go a long way in creating an impact on your audience. 

The problem

Any start-up CEO or founder knows that if the idea behind the company or product does not solve a relevant, existing problem in society, it won’t be easy to justify the value of the start-up. 

Talk about the problem you’ve zeroed in on, the reason behind choosing it, and whom it affects. A relatable story to illustrate the problem’s seriousness and realness will give your investors greater clarity as to who you are as a business. 

Target market and opportunity

You would think the next slide would naturally be the solution. Effective storytelling, however, builds up suspense before the big reveal. In this case, a great suspense-builder would be the magnitude of the people affected by the identified problem. 

Who is your ideal customer? How many of them are there? What is the size of the market you are projecting to capture ideally? The more detailed figures you have for this juncture, the better. 

Here is where your TAM, SAM and SOM come in. You may be tempted to show the biggest, flashiest numbers to make it seem as though you’re reaching out to a larger audience, but if that’s not what your product can promise to deliver, the showiness will backfire. 

Investors want to invest in numbers which are backed by reasoning and research. Focus on a specific target market to not stray yourself while giving investors a more realistic idea of whom your product is for. 

The solution

Now it’s time for the big reveal. Show them how your product is a well-formulated solution backed by a great deal of thought and insight. 

More importantly, depict how it’s the ideal solution that will help your chosen target audience. By portraying how your product can solve the very real problem you talked about, you establish the importance of your start-up in the market as well. 

Placing your solution slide here is the perfect opportunity to portray it as the hero that’s here to save the day of the people. 

Use stories and graphics to make your slides more engaging and impactful. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words. 

Vision and value proposition

This is how you would describe your start-up if you had only one sentence to do it. Short, simple and sweet is the way to keep this. 

Tech start-ups tend to use big companies in these sentences to give a better understanding of their own identities. For instance, “We are LinkedIn and Carousell come together,” or “We are like Grab, but just for children.” 

Be careful to make sure that your characteristics actually somewhat model the company you refer to, and that you’re not misleading your investors by simply throwing around big names. 

Revenue model or business model

Your investors cannot invest in you if they don’t know how your product is going to make money. How much and who pays are vital questions to be answered here. Be it the users or advertisers, be clear about who the revenue is going to be generated from and how. 

Traction and validation

If the sales numbers are already looking hopeful for you, great. You should definitely talk about them at this stage. That way, you build your investors’ trust in your ability to attract and capture your target market.

If you don’t, talk about what you plan to achieve in the near future. A simple yet comprehensive two-year-plan roadmapping your key milestones would do just the trick for you. 

Marketing and sales strategy

This slide is all about how you plan to go to the market. From posting on social media to giving out flyers on the street, give a solid outline of what your marketing and sales efforts are going to look like. 

Depicting how you are going to reach your target market includes finding them in the first place. Assure your investors that you have a firm understanding of where to channel your efforts and what platforms you are going to use.

Uniqueness is key in this stage, so differentiating your plans from your competitors’ could give you a one-up with the investors. 

Team

A start-up’s small team needs to contain the best people for the job. Each member must have the ‘X-factor’ that makes them better for the role than anyone else. A power-packed team is a necessity for a start-up’s power-packed progress. 

Financials

As a start-up CEO or founder, you most certainly have unending pages of figures to show investors. Advertising budget, projected revenue, and many more factors come into play here.

However, keep it simple for your pitch deck. Basic details highlighting expenses, profits, and customer projections will do you well. 

Be prepared to explain the rationale behind the statistics you’re presenting. 

It’s your start-up, so it might be slightly difficult to be realistic. You need to try. If you can project your figures based on existing data from your traction or similar companies, it would give more legitimacy to your numbers. 

Competition

In today’s business world, it is highly unlikely that you won’t have competitors. Even if your solution is brand-new, your future customers are already using their own way to solve the problem you are addressing.  

Not only do you have to show what your place is in the industry, you also have to communicate what sets you apart from everyone else. Basically, your Unique Selling Point (USP) has to be solidly distinctive. 

From there, go on to explain why you are confident that this difference will result in you being the people’s choice. 

Use of investment funds

Alas, the time to actually do what you created this pitch deck for: ask for the money. You’ve set up your stage; painted a beautiful portrait named ‘Why Me.’ Now it’s time to quote the price for that portrait. 

And this quote can’t just be a number plucked out of thin air. Justify why you need it and where it’s going to be utilised. Knowing how you’re going to use their money to achieve the goals you mapped out to them is the information that can tip investors towards either a yes or no. 


There are certainly several more slides you could choose to include – such as exit strategy – but remember that the best pitch decks are the shortest yet clearest. AirBnb did that, and look where they are today. 


Source Credit: Bplans

How to Ensure and Validate the Right Start-up Idea

A start-up cannot start without an idea behind it – the reason for its existence. Coming up with an idea to base an entire business on means that it has to be right. From being viable to adding value to the community, it must encompass them all. 

What makes your start-up idea right is if it solves a problem that is real and present. If it does, the next step would be determining viability. Making sure the business can run is essential. Last, yet very important, is the way the idea would help you get fruitful returns and make money. 

Ideally, getting all this done by investing only what is absolute necessary would make any business-runner very happy. One common way to do this would be by creating a prototype, running it, and tabulating results and feedback. 

The downside of this is the high cost that the start-up would have to bear, which would burn a considerable hole in their starting budget. 

However, there are several other ways to find out if you are on the right track with your start-up idea. Here are four helpful steps to follow. 

Step 1: Clearly state what your product is and show it. This could be through your social media presence or website. It could even be via slides if the pitch is going to be face to face.

Step 2: Find your minimum viable segment (MVS). This is the audience who are facing the problem you intend to solve and who can be reached out to generally in the same way. Your product needs to be saleable enough to appeal to the big market segment and target audience you are looking at. 

The solution you are presenting has to be for your audience as a whole, not customised. A start-up cannot afford or maintain giving out tailor-made answers. 

Step 3: Get a gauge of the sales you could make. Target your MVS by getting your message out to them via social media and platforms which you feel they most actively follow. 

In the case of this method not working well, collecting contact information from future customers and assuring them that you will get in touch once your prototype is functional is a recommended alternative. Obtaining their numbers or emails is definitely easier than getting their money, however. 

For in-person sales, asking your customers a few questions to have some information to work with before pitching your product would be an effective technique. 

Step 4: One of the greatest assets you can have is feedback data, and interviews are the best way to go about collecting it. Bear in mind that there is a chance that the feedback you get is not the feedback you desire. 

In this case, repeat the process. Repeat the information you are presenting to your customers. Keep at it till you gather positive data that shows that your solution is necessary and solves a prevalent problem. 

You need to be flexible enough to be open to new learnings while following these steps. Do not strictly stick to what you think you know, and do not push your customers towards a solution that seems unnecessary to them. You need to constantly test and find new results to come to the most comprehensive and accurate conclusions. 

Now that you have the tools to ensure that your idea is right, you need the ones that will help validate it. Here are some guide points to look at to make sure you are on your desired path.

KYC – Know Your Competitor(s)

After successfully completing the first and most important step of making sure that your idea is a solution that solves an existing problem – but before implementing it – researching and studying your competition is crucial

Understand their brand and the solution they are offering. Only through a thorough comprehension of your competitors can you then think of how to set yourself apart – how to secure a solid unique selling point. 

Determine who the perfect buyer for you is 

Earlier I mentioned interviewing your potential customers to gain valuable market insights. You will notice – the more data you gather – that some information could be quite repetitive. These repeating nuggets are what form the personality of your ideal buyer. Not only does this help you eliminate most target markets, you will also find out which type of audience exactly to focus your efforts on. 

Know if your idea can be monetised 

Wanting to solve a prevalent problem is a noble thought, but you will not be doing yourself or your customers any favours if you have to shut down due to your inability to make money. 

To prevent this, make sure from the very start that you have a viable revenue model. You can do so by analysing the results from your initial qualitative and quantitative validation stages.

Develop and test your main features 

Imagine a Whatsapp where you could not send emojis, or even share a funny link you want to send to your family and friends. I cannot speak for you, but I definitely would turn to another texting platform if that were the case. 

Without these core features, the product fails to deliver what it promised, resulting in customers turning away from it.

Test your main functions to answer the questions you will most likely have about  your product’s functionality and viability. More importantly, use this stage to find out whether your product truly works as the solution to the problem you are trying to solve. 

Have a clear vision for your start-up

As time passes and your start-up progresses, your idea and vision may fluidly change form to adapt to everchanging dynamics. Hardly any companies have a clear map to follow from the get go, but with time, your goals will become more defined.

Once this happens, you will be able to create the path that will take your start-up to your desired level of achievement. The picture will become clearer once you start gaining traction. 

Though this article essentially only addresses two steps – making sure you have the right idea and validating it – there are several checkpoints that have to be ticked in order to make sure these steps are achieved satisfactorily. 

If you do not address these vital initial stages first, the rest of your start-up journey would be based on an unstable, underdeveloped foundation. Getting these down to perfection, however, would definitely prove as a great start to getting your start-up to the peaks of success.

5 Do’s and Don’t’s You Need to Know for Your Start-up

The steps you take to build your start-up could either make or break it. Here are some tips to make sure you do more of the former and avoid the latter. 

Take stock

Fully knowing the limited resources your start-up has is essential before executing any grand plan. One of the few, crucial tools in your inventory is time. 

Setting up a timeline for the things that need to be done goes a long way in ensuring effective planning.  

Human capital is another one of the weapons you have in your arsenal. I cannot emphasise this enough, but a start-up’s team is its biggest asset. The people are what helps the business grow.

Start-ups burn cash while not making money in the beginning. That is just the way things are. This makes it crucial to spend wisely. Make sure to focus your efforts on tasks that have top priority, so that you will not be burned out – worse still, with no good results. 

Overspending

I meant what I said earlier – think before spending. It is completely understandable for you to want nothing but the best for your start-up. The best office space, laptops; the list goes on. 

However, write down your priorities from most to least important first and stick to the order. This early on in the business, a start-up needs to channel its efforts to staying afloat rather than attempting to full-on swim. 

As a guidance to start off your decision-making journey, here are three steps Forbes recommends that you take. 

The first one is to figure out how much space you require. The next is determining what specifically goes into your inventory. Last, but far from the least, is your budget question. Here is where you decide how much to spend on what.

Overplanning

Every start-up has that one team member who is concerned about the minor details. A little too concerned, in fact. Just make sure – if the start-up is yours – that member is not you. 

Yes, the small details do matter, but fretting over them to the extent of worrying yourself cannot be a good thing. Murphy’s Law exists for a reason. It is good to be prepared, undoubtedly, but you need to remember that you cannot ensure that every microscopic aspect is in perfect order. 

Take a step back, look at the big picture, and try to fix up the most important links first. Remember, priority-wise is a great way to work worry-free. 

Forbes once again has a reliable set of three steps to offer as help. 

The first one is to have the basic materials that you require. An office space and laptops are good examples. Next, do your paperwork right and get it in order to go about getting your business legally up and running. The final step is simple: fix the opening date and go for it. 

You can be as prepared as you want, but you have to accept that events may take their own course as well sometimes. Do not let the fear of anything going wrong hold you back from executing a solid, thought-out plan. 

Under-planning

A question most of you may have asked is, “Which is worse? Doing too much or too little?”

Personally, I would rather be overprepared than lack adequate preparation. Not having the tools you need in a crucial moment is the last situation you would want to find yourself in. 

Having a business plan in place is what is going to save you from landing in those situations. From the employees you hire to your go-to-market methods to revenue model, it is vital to have it all down and decided before you launch your business. 

Use your business plan as a guiding stick. It will keep you on the most viable path. Even though the structure is more or less fixed, it still offers the flexibility that would allow you to make changes you wish to as you go along your start-up journey. 

Narrow down the activities to focus on

As I said earlier, it is inevitable that start-ups spend more than they make in their early days. The high opportunity cost involved puts more pressure on getting the wheels of the company to move as quickly as possible. 

The most logical line of action here would be to channel your limited resources into the most essential aspects – the ones that could potentially make you a big name in the start-up industry. 

Out of the hundred and one activities you have, however, sieving out the unfruitful ones may not be the easiest task. Many of these can present themselves to you as necessary measures, when in fact, they are not. The resultant time wastage is something many start-ups experience initially. 

Do not lose hope. You can still salvage the situation and make good use of your time in the future by learning how differentiate between actual and phoney progress.

According to YC Partner Adora Cheung, determining your primary key performance indicator (KPI) and setting weekly goals related to it would be a recommended way to go about doing that. 

This would aid in shearing the unnecessary parts of your to-do list down to only the activities that affect your selected KPI. 

Choosing the perfect KPI to focus on could be a slight challenge, but for most businesses, results that show the value they provide to their customers is what serves as an ideal indicator. 

How do you find out the value that customers are getting from your product or service? Conducting surveys, expanding marketing efforts, and collecting their responses to those efforts could help greatly. 

Not only is it in line with your goal of finding the specific information you need, the results you gather also let you know if you are on the right path. Consequentially, they help you plan your next moves as well. 

If you ever decide to take up this advice, talk to people about how it worked out for you. Who knows, someday we could all know you as the next big thing in the start-up industry!

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7 Ways to Make Your Start-up Stand Out

You may know this, but there are over 55,000 start-ups today in Singapore alone, and the number is still growing. Which means start-ups are not only competing against conglomerates; their fight is with the rest of the start-ups as well. 

In a cut-throat situation like this, the best solution to rise above the competition is to stand out distinctly. Here are some tips a start-up could use to start off. 

Know what you want to say and say it out loud 

Moving forward without a clear message in mind is not a smart move. The purpose of the start-up is vital. 

Only knowing it is not enough. Reaching out to their target audience and letting them know is also necessary. 

A highly effective way to do this would be through marketing. As a member of the PR and marketing team in my start-up, the work I do is crucial. Sure, we focus on the services we offer. Without marketing it, though, we would not be able to complement our hard work and do it justice. 

In my industry of tech, there are several start-ups out there. It is a functional, planned-out marketing structure that would go a long way in setting a successful one apart.

Countless start-ups who fail to make it almost definitely did not focus on marketing themselves early on. Since the message was not sent out earlier, potential customers were left unaware and unreached. Needless to say, that does not do a company’s profitability any favours.

Shout your message out in ways that you can. The impact it can have and recognition you get can be staggering. 

Use social media 

For starters, it’s free! Social media is one of the few things in the world that does not cost you anything and yet is highly effective. With the right content, a company could be well on its way to forming its own organic customer base that they can easily communicate with. 

And these customers can communicate back. Social media channels make it very easy for them to leave any feedback they wish to, which is an asset to any start-up. From blasting emails to posting an announcement on Instagram, there are several ways for a start-up to establish contact with customers through social media. 

The collected feedback would be a significant help in telling the company what they are doing right or wrong, enabling them to make tweaks if and when needed. 

What is the real you?

Customers nowadays are big on authenticity. The same old photoshopped visuals with vibrant colours are not enough to convince them anymore. The question then arises, “What would convince them?” 

Your story would. Customers want to see beyond the sales material; they want to know what makes you…well, you. Sharing how your start-up came about, what the inspiration behind it was – your customers would feel the pull without even consciously realising it. 

This automatically sets you apart, and here is why. Everyone out there has a story, but yours is uniquely yours. All that is left to do is to use the right words to forge a connection between your company and customers through your story. 

This connection would be built on the strength of core values such as trust and a deeper understanding of the purpose of the company. When it comes down to the crucial moment of deciding, this connection may very well be the game changer that makes the customer choose you.

Create a Unique Message Based on Customer Input

For a start-up, knowing what the customers need is a key for growth. The next step is using that knowledge to create customised content for them. Keep gathering data and analysing it to try and work out your customers’ taste so you can craft out the best message. 

At the same time, tread carefully. Make sure, as best as you can, that you do not only cater to one group of customers. Not only would this make the rest of them feel unvalued, you could stray from the very fundamental quality that attracts them to you in the first place. 

Feedback questions and surveys are a great way to go about exploring your customers’ opinions. Basic questions such as “Do you find our prices affordable?” can aid in refining the product or service and best cater to this most vital stakeholder.

Honesty is the best policy

Everyone likes a great, inspiring success story. They like it even better when that story is genuine. According to poll results of top business-to-business (B2B) marketers, 54 percent of them agree that sharing real success stories is extremely effective. 

Building a relationship on untrue content or falsities can never do a start-up any good. As mentioned earlier, authenticity is what seals a good deal. A transparent, real story about how the founder dropped out of college to start his own tech company might be just the thing customers want to read. 

The customers whose values resonate with the story will form the loyal base that every start-up needs. 

What’s life without a little philanthropy?

A start-up’s place in and value to the community is of great importance to customers. If your service or a product aids the community significantly, chances are it is a huge success with the members of that community. 

The company’s dedication and concern to the people is shown, which communicates that the society matters. People get to see that even businesses can think beyond just their own well-being and offer help. 

If you want to find out the vibe or mindset of a start-up, just take a look at its team members. 

Because a start-up’s team is so small, it becomes imperative that each member must be a strong personality in whichever department they belong to. A wildly creative digital marketer or an eloquently tactful PR executive are some examples. 

A vibrant workplace helps to prop up a brand and enhance its uniqueness. This allows  the start-up make sure it is flexible enough to be able to adapt to a changing society as well.

Treat the team right 

If you managed to find the perfect digital marketer and PR executive I mentioned earlier, brilliant. Now, all you have to do is make sure they are treated well. A start-up cannot fulfil its potential without the people who make it up. Their well-being is crucial. 

Team members being emotionally cared for can translate into many positive outcomes for the start-up. Increased revenue, better branding, reduced expenses, an established customer base; the list goes on. 

To do this, start by thinking of what would make an employee want to stay. Empower them through opportunities and encourage their learning. Taking them out for a mean once a month or so would also be the kind of bonding session they would appreciate. The team’s productivity and drive would stay amped up. 

Happy people tend to spread their happiness. Once the word gets out there, more talent would see your start-up as the desirable work environment they want to be a part of. With a satisfied and adept group of people, your start-up has the best team to boost it to its success. 


Competition will always exist, but following these tips might be just what your start-up needs to be the next big thing. These six stepping stones would go a long way in taking it up the ladder of success. 

If your company is not where it wants to be, why not try these out? If you have any tips of your own, even better. Trial and error is an excellent way to figure out what works best for your company. 

Better to be a risk-taker and gleaning the possible benefits of it than staying stagnant, don’t you think? 

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Start-ups, Here’s How to Be a Talent Magnet, Not a Scout

Every company naturally wants talented employees. Having people who are adept at their job is a valuable asset in many ways. This becomes especially more important for start-ups. 

The small team size of a start-up only means more responsibility on each member. Which means the hiring process itself has to be a tough, meticulous one. 

Would it not be a smarter move, then, for the start-up to work on making itself desirable first? Here are some ways which could help a start-up relax and wait for the talent to approach instead of scouting for it themselves. 

Put yourself out there 

If you want people to know about your start-up, you have to publicise. That starts by telling everyone 

  • who you are, 
  • what you stand for, 
  • and how your start-up benefits the community. 

It is only when a start-up puts out this fundamental yet critical information about itself that people would start talking. Make sure the content is factual and straightforward. This will give the public a clear understanding and time to mull over the information. Be mindful to keep your message honest. After all, honesty is the best policy. 

Utilising the available channels of mass media is key. Take advantage of platforms that would help your start-up reach its desired target audience. This goes a long way in building your reputation. 

The start-up’s portrayal on media should reflect and broadcast its tone, style and purpose. Be sure to make the company’s intended contribution to society loud and clear. 

If the messaging is purposeful, it will resonate with the talent out there that the start-up is seeking. In turn, this would stimulate the former to seek the latter.

Marketing. Effective marketing. 

I would wager a bet that majority of you – if not all – would have had gone through at least one interview in your lives. Which means you should know the most necessary skill required: the ability to sell yourself. 

That is what a start-up has to do here. The company values, as well as what makes the start-up at its very core, come into play here. These qualities have to call out to the talent for them to be attracted to the start-up. 

To be able to do so, a start-up needs to think from two perspectives. 

  1. What they have to offer.
  2. What the talents would want or expect out of working with them particularly. 

The second aspect could contain several factors; from salary to work environment. Every talent that you interview from there on could have different expectations. Some could think of a start-up as open-space offices and regular snack breaks. For others, it could mean long work hours and a lot of initiative. 

It is important to hire team mates whose expectations align with the company’s and everyone else working in it. This way, at least the core ideology will be shared. 

Talent is often attracted to promotional opportunities and knowledge expansion. Let them know that your start-up is where they can get these and much more. 

Start-up members each have significant roles to play in its progress. Talent would be gratified to know how greatly their contribution matters to the company. They should be reassured that the company needs them.

The chance to try their hands at different skillsets and not just be limited to their own toolbox would also serve as a strong incentive in attracting talent.

A+T+T+I+T+U+D+E=100

To many people, the word ‘attitude’ is paired with a negative connotation at first sound. In doing so, they suffer a misconception which could affect their mindsets for the worse.  

Yes, it is true that attitude could mean something negative. However, it could also be used in a completely different sense. 

A definition of Oxford’s says that attitude is ‘individuality or self-confidence’. People who possess this attitude are the ones that start-ups should pull aboard their ship. 

Talent does not automatically translate to good attitude. In fact, the contrary is found to be true more often than not. While skills are important, attitude determines the team member’s willingness to get the job done right. Despite failures and several revisions, they possess the grit to see it through till the end. 

Several hirers on LinkedIn and other online platforms have expressed that they would prioritise attitude over skill in an employee. It is a greater joy to teach a willing, not-so-bright student than to wrestle with trying to educate a snobby know-it-all. 

As the saying goes, “one bad apple can spoil the bunch.” Similarly, one team member with a bad attitude could negatively impact those around them. Hence, it is important to employ people with a mind open to learning and working. 

Interviewing the right way 

As individuals, we tend to form first impressions of every person we meet. On some occasions, we find out how wrong we were after getting to know the person better. 

Which is why it is crucial that interviewees get interviewed in the correct manner. The effectiveness and accuracy of the results comes from the right interview process.  

Not only should the hired team mate be in line with the company’s ideology, they should also be able to add their own value to the working culture. 

An interviewer should ensure that the questions asked are actually answered and not swerved around. A story to back up the answers would be an added bonus in terms of getting a better understanding of the interviewee’s character and calibre. 

An interview engineered right could be just the trick in hiring the right talent for a start-up. 


Undoubtedly, there is a lot of competition out there for employers. It gets tougher for start-ups as they are competing with conglomerates which have already established their reputations and attract talent on a global scale. 

Working on these four aspects, however, is better than not making any effort at all. In Singapore itself, there are over 55,000 start-ups – and this number is only growing. 

The start-ups who practise these methods would have the upper hand on those that have yet to get the ball rolling, or whose efforts are unfocused. 

It is never too late to start building your start-up team, but when you do, do it right. Focus on your start-up, so that talent cannot help but focus on it too. 

Source Credit: grasshopper.com

Business photo created by ArthurHidden – www.freepik.com

The Biggest Weaknesses a Start-up CEO Should Have

Yes, weaknesses. All you read about is what makes a great CEO, “Five Qualities you can Find in the Best CEOs”, so on and so forth.

Cut them some slack. Allow them their weaknesses, and see where those lead them. 

  • Great power = great responsibility. But too much responsibility… 

The CEO is the big boss, so naturally, everything falls on them. There is a lot that goes on in a company, especially if it is a new start-up. From funding to marketing to sales – too much for just one person to take on alone. 

Undoubtedly, there are some jobs that only a CEO can do – such as hiring and delegating. 

Sometimes, start-up CEOs tend to forget that. In their minds, they play every role – from PR to marketing to support. 

This tends to result in an overworked and wrung-out CEO. 

It is these CEOs, however, that have the passion to cover all bases. They possess the skill of paying attention to details and being adept in several aspects.

  • Breaks? What are those? 

CEOs are incessant workers. Their unending work routine starts early in the morning, ends late at nights, and hardly contains a slot that says ‘break time’.  

This worsens with start-up CEOs. Their lives revolve around getting their start-up’s wheels turning, and making sure they keep turning and gaining momentum.

The cost? Going for walks, jogs, or even a simple lunch break at times. Eventually, the lack of breaks would weigh down on even the best of CEOs. 

It cannot be denied, however, that this sort of motivation cannot be found in just any individual. Employees may even feel spurred by their CEO to push themselves and explore their potentials.

  • “Sleep is for the weak.”

A good sleep cycle is between 7 and 9 hours long. This information does not seem to have an effect on CEOs.  

Reset My Business CEO Darren Witmer sleeps for not more than 4 hours every night. On the other hand, STS Capital founder Gregory McKee religiously gets his 8 hours of rest every night. He claims he cannot function effectively otherwise. 

Either way, every CEO requires sufficient sleep to be efficient the next day. When they compromise that, the problems arise. 

Being so driven that even the lack of sleep cannot be a deterrent, though, is admittedly impressive, albeit begrudgingly to some. Investors look for this conviction in a CEO. Many would admit they are hard-pressed to find CEOs worth their mettle. 

  • Thinking they are not just Captain America, but all the Avengers combined.

Around-the-clock working and lack of enough rest definitely takes a toll on mental health. Exhaustion can unconsciously instill negative emotions, such as frustration and despair. 

This can translate into several outcomes, few of them good. Members of a start-up are generally more energetic, as is necessary. But overdoing it burn out the entire team; especially the CEO, who does more. 

The takeaway here? The CEO’s mindset. Physical limitations regardless, their belief in themselves and their team to get work done transcends those boundaries. 

Their rare and immense mental strength gives them an extra boost, making it a prized quality in a CEO.

  • Weakness? Never heard of it.

No one ever said it was easy to admit weakness. It gets even trickier with CEOs. 

Having only portrayed their strong side to those around them, they somehow trick even themselves into ignoring their weaknesses.

Stepping back and delegating for the sake of efficiency would be ideal for any company.

It is not an easy thing, not letting your shortcomings get the better of you. It requires sheer will. Any CEO that can do this can be relied on to be consistent and focused on the positives. 

  • Caring too much about ‘making it’

Getting interviewed by the press about success stories is definitely cool. According to Touchdown Semiconductor CEO Brett Fox, however, prioritising fame over success would take the company down the path to doom. 

For many CEOs, ‘making it’ does not mean paparazzi. It means getting their company recognised for its worth, as they see it. Which means the exhaustion would be worth it at the end of the day if their mission is accomplished. 

Farsightedness and perseverance – two important qualities of a CEO. The start-up with this CEO is well on its way to success. 

  • Yes, yes, good job. Moving on. 

Big or small, victories should be celebrated. Yet, many companies – or CEOs – always overlook the small ones. It gets worse when they are too harsh on themselves if they fail. 

Acknowledging accomplishments is crucial in boosting group morale. And that appreciation means a lot more coming from the CEO. It creates inspiration for future wins and keeps spirits up. 

On the flipside, CEOs can sometimes tend to lay back and lose focus on their goals once they get a taste of victory. 

The ones that move on quickly to their next goal have the ability to look at the big picture. Not being tunnel-visioned goes a long way in attaining long-term goals. 

  • Will you be my friend? Please?

Networking is one of the most useful tools for a start-up. Here you can find investors, mentors, and all sorts of other professionals.

CEOs, however, are at risk of going overboard. Attending every networking event they get an invite to and following every investor whose profile they come across on LinkedIn are signs of a little overenthusiasm. 

Statistically speaking, few of these newly-established contacts are of actual use to a start-up. 9 in 10 investors may be uninterested, while some mentors’ guidance may not be what that start-up needs. 

It is the CEO’s undampened driving force and hope that is the advantage here. They pitch to every investor with the same positive mindset. Each time, they hope this will be ‘The One’.  

The contacts they make are carefully stored away for a rainy day. This preparation and conviction are what make a reliable start-up CEO.


Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, even Jeff Bezos; every CEO has their drawbacks. It is the way they make up for them, that sets them apart from everyone else. 

Weaknesses are necessary for a start-up CEO. Without them, how can they strive to be one of the greats? 

Source Credit: Value.ai blog

A Start-up’s Struggles and One Way to Overcome Them

When you are a start-up that is just starting out in this highly competitive, overpopulated-with-competition world, it is tough. Becoming the next AirBnb or Uber comes with an entire set of challenges. 

Acquiring first customers

When a speaker gives a speech, the hook is crucial. Whether or not you manage to get your audience’s attention at the very beginning is what determines how effectively your message is ready to be received. 

The same applies for a product or service. Once it is developed and out there, promotional efforts come into play. Social media becomes a significant marketing tool. The content a company puts out becomes their hook. 

Facebook, Apple, Coca Cola; their initial marketing efforts contributed greatly to their significant success today. 

There are countless products which are out there in the market, with their existences fading even before being established in the first place. A company’s first customers are crucial, because they are the people who trusted the product enough to try it. If they are appeased, a happy-turned-loyal customer is the best spokesperson any company could ask for. 

Traction

Any good driver knows what traction is, but the definition changes up slightly in the business world. Here it means the progress and momentum growth of a company alongside the growth of its business. 

There can be several reasons as to why a start-up is not getting enough traction. Just building the product is not enough. It does not guarantee that a start-up is anywhere close to success. The key – and hurdle – is making sure the company branding is oriented around the product, while giving timely and strong support to its customer base. 

If a product does not solve a problem, address a need, or even make lives easier or more entertaining – chances are, customers will not pick it up. They may not have a need for the product or may simply not be interested in using it. 

Poor presentation could be yet another factor for lack of traction. This may not just be of the product, but even the company itself. 

For instance, poor website presentation – if you run a start-up and your company’s purpose, value, and problem-solving statement cannot be effortlessly found out from your website, it is high time for it to be upgraded to include all these. 

Without a clear reason of why your product exists, the website essentially serves no actual purpose. 

The same applies to the company’s social media platforms. The best content communicates with your target audience by – for starters – telling them who you are, what you do, and what is in it for them. 

It is crucial to maintain an active social media presence by regularly updating your customers (followers) and constantly trying to engage them in interaction. Several start-ups lack in the latter aspect on their social media platforms, which is why they hardly get any interaction despite having large numbers of followers. 

Small team

Any company, big or small, cannot function without the contribution of its team; its people. Each member plays a significant role, and this is magnified when it comes to a start-up. 

Since the number of employees in a start-up generally stays in the single-digit range, there is a lot more responsibility on each member. A great deal more effort, time, energy, creativity and brain power are required to get a start-up’s wheels turning. Without any of these, forget exponentially gaining momentum; even keeping up the momentum already gained will be a tough task. 

The worst part? Despite all this, more often than not, the employees’ hard work may not even be seen or acknowledged by outsiders. It could be customers not doing their hard work justice by constantly not responding to social media posts, or it could be investors shooting down pitches so easily it is almost dishearteningly dismissive. 

Apart from that, every member needs to have an in-depth knowledge of their job scope and probably even beyond. While start-ups offer large room for learning, the work scope can seem so vast to the small team that it induces pressure as well. 

If a conflict occurs within the members, the impact is felt greatly. In order to not let it snowball and eventually affect the quality of work, the team has to resolve their conflicts and work amicably. 

Lack of results

Despite the entire team’s efforts, the chances of there being no results is high. Even after countless campaigns, posts and promo codes, the response rate can be dejectedly low. 

This in turn can induce despair in employees, because any sort of response would have at least given them a sense of direction. Without feedback – positive or negative – the members would desperately be trying to figure out what they did wrong without knowing where to start from. 

So, instead of working on tweaking their current campaign according to obtained feedback, the members will be feeling lost, directionless, and may even be going around in circles trying to figure out where to focus their efforts. 

Deadly, harmful reviews

It is difficult enough for a start-up to get the ball rolling without any sort of feedback or response from customers. Now imagine having to make a reputation for your company amidst an influx of negative reviews. 

These deadly reviews can do serious damage to even established conglomerates, so you can only imagine the endeavours a poor start-up has to go through to try and battle the impact of all the negativity. 

Kudusto.com.au founder Paul Ryan once said that this negativity could “cripple” small companies such as start-ups. 

Start-ups need to respond with carefully and intricately-chosen words to get themselves out of this mess, so that their customer base is strengthened and they can channel their time and energy on other aspects as well. 

The Solution (one of them, at least)

Here is the thing, though. Despite all the struggles that a start-up faces, there is always a solution. If there was not, then Grab and Lazada would not be where they are today. 

For my company, PHIX, our most effective solution so far has been none other than the formidable social media. 

Singapore has one of the highest social media penetration rates in the world, with over 4.7 million people being active social media users as recently as last year. That amounts to nearly three-quarters of the population. 

These statistics are astounding, and should thrill any founder and marketing team worth their value. The possibilities of using social media to build a business identity are endless. 

That is what PHIX did. We lost momentum and traction after getting hit by Covid, and we tried several ways to regain them afterward and get back to the few thousand rapid downloads and hundreds of active users we had post-catastrophe. 

But the best solution for us turned out to be social media; more specifically, influencer outreach. We worked with social media influencers by offering them a complementary service of their choice from our app, and they posted their honest reviews about it along with videos or photos of them enjoying our service on their accounts. 

The results were fruitful; with our downloads, active users and number of bookings growing at pleasantly surprising rates and instilling a sense of euphoria in us. 

PHIX is continuing to grow today, and it is all because we made use of Singapore’s high social media usage rate. The network effect of social media is so widespread and effective that the impact was almost immediate. 

Now that we have found our solution, we are going to pivot towards and expand on this aspect to ensure continued growth and success for our future as well. 

If you work in a start-up and are finding a way to overcome your struggles, this would be a great platform to expand on. 

As I said earlier, there are endless possibilities. So, you could try it our way, or experiment and find your own ideal social media solution to make your start-up successful. 

5 Reasons Why Foreigners Should Invest in Singapore Start-ups

Investing is no small business. Especially when looking for the right small business on a global scale. There is a whole list of factors to consider, but here are 5 of – according to us – the most important ones to help you as a foreign investor in making the right decision. 

  • Small country with modern-age infrastructure. And, oh, the success stories because of it. Local start-up Grab wouldn’t have been able to secure its 50% market share without the advanced technological and infrastructural advantages Singapore has to offer. 
  • The start-up scene here could be called relatively new, but it already has produced notable, successful brands. Just earlier this month, Grab has raised its valuation to nearly $40 billion, after its highly successful merger with SPAC. There are several other such young, promising companies available here. As an investor with ferocious appetite and capacity to build a business and help society, why not be the first one to sit at the table and get to choose a piece of the freshly baked pie?
  • As an investor, a priority when investing would be a business-friendly policy environment. You’re in luck, because Singapore has been ranked World Bank has ranked Singapore in the Top 3 countries among 190 countries for its ease of doing business for over a decade now. If simple, efficient, and quick are what you want, you’d be hard pressed to find a better country to give you all 3. 
  • There are many things to factor in with start-ups. Access to start-up resources, effective start-up ecosystem, a skilled workforce, so on and so forth.
    • In Singapore, however, we have them all. Start-up resources – several evidences to show this, but the biggest one is that Singapore has been described as the 1st freest economy in the world, making it a great place for start-ups to operate. You are able to set up a business in any sector; trade is not limited; and currency is strong and stable, allowing for capital to flow easily in and out of the country.
    • Skilled workforce – Singapore ranks as the best country for developing human capital, according to a report released by the World Bank.
  •  If you’re worried about laws – which is valid – don’t be. Singapore’s legal system is known for being fair, efficient and impartial, and it is ranked as the fourth least corrupt country in the world. Strong protections for contract law are in place with Singapore’s legal system. The laws themselves are strictly enforced by the courts. It is a testament to the country’s legal system that many large companies often mutually choose to apply Singapore law to their contracts even when neither party is located in the country.

You may have more reasons that are important to you when looking into investing a start-up, but these 5 should be a good place to start. Whatever other checkboxes you might have, rest assured, Singapore ticks them all

Being A Freelancer in Singapore is Tough…Or is It?

No one said being a freelancer in Singapore was going to be easy. As a freelancer, you are your own employee, boss, secretary – basically your own company. 

Sounds perfect, don’t you think? Not only do you not work for anyone, but you are your own boss. The rates you set? Yours. The days you work? You decide. The clients you handle? Up to you! 

You can sympathise with your friends who work from 9 to 5 daily, but only sympathise. Because while they complain about travel cost, fatigue and back aches from sitting on their chairs for too long, you simply cannot relate. 

All this might be making freelancing seem like a walk in the park so far. “How is it tough?” you might ask. Well, being a freelancer is much more than calling the shots and taking a holiday whenever you want. For starters, you as an individual need to possess certain qualities to even have a chance at being a successful one. 

Since the productivity of a work day is in your hands, it all comes down to the discipline you have in making sure it does not go wasted. A freelancer’s discipline goes a long way in determining whether they make it or break it in the industry. 

Not just that, but perseverance is a key factor as well. There are going to be days where the money made is zero – for several reasons. Maybe there is no project you are currently undertaking, or you might just be going through a dry spell where you cannot find a new client. Not letting these deterrents get to you is the tricky solution. 

Human nature aside, there are many other aspects that come into play to successfully create and run your one-man (or woman) show. 

Step One: Get yourself online! And this does not just stop at Instagram or Facebook; create your own business website. Make it simple, accessible, and last but definitely not the least, beautiful. Because if you don’t take pride in your work, who will? 

Social media is a platform that you definitely should not discount or write off. As a professional working freelancer who finds their own jobs, you are going to need all the connections you can get. Finding like-minded people builds up the base of your business. 

Step Two: Get your separate business phone number and large stack of name cards. Establishing your corporate identity is vital to showing your clients – both existing and potential – the image you wish to portray. More importantly, it helps instill confidence in them about your seriousness and dedication towards your work. 

Step Three: Determine the services you offer and their rates. How are you going to make money to eat without showing your clients how much each dish on the menu costs? 

Social media, portfolio website, business phone line, name cards, services and rates. If this single-sentence-summary has you sighing right about now, wait. Because there is still one last step left, and it is the best one. 

What if you could do all this…on just one app? An app that you could simply download on your phone? 

Ladies and gentlemen, Step Four: Become a Phix Provider. 

Phix gives you the all-in-one platform to establish and advertise yourself, build connections and earn money at the same time. Its simple sign-up procedure is all you need to get through to set yourself up for a comfortable income to start pouring in, with clients coming to you for your services and not the traditional, other way around. 

It would take a whole bunch of other articles to talk about all that Phix Provider can offer you, but much less time for you to actually download it and explore them all. Trust me, you will not regret it. 

Sign up now, and be the best freelancer you can be. You can always thank me later! 

Shreyaa Kanneboina, PR and Marketing Executive