5 things I learn from the suffering of my Start-up

L'adorn circa 2014

I love being in Malaysia. It feels home although my home currently is in the UK, Malaysia still have that home feeling to me especially when we arrived at the immigration officer desk and we're waiting for our passport to be stamped.

My last trip was more of a business trip. My partner and I have closed down L'adorn Malaysia and we were very sad to see something that we truly passionate about have to find its end. I really hope this is a temporary closing because honestly I have big vision for Ladorn and I hate to see it ends just there. So I definitely am brewing something for my baby in the future.

L'adorn officially started in 2011 but I started selling scarves online in 2009 when I was studying in London. Back when only a small number of girls selling hijab on blogspot. We were one of the pioneers selling hijab on e-commerce so we had a lot of advantage those days. Our targeted market and prices was the upper middle classes. This was set based on the logistics and the materials cost. Because I was staying in London, I have to have a partner in Malaysia to do the deliveries and customers service.

Fast forward to today, L'adorn suffered an enormous amount of problems and challenges. Hence the life changing decision. Here are 5 things L'adorn got suffered from and a few things that I learn throughout the journey of running my own business.

1. Long distance = The founder is not there to set up the business properly and is trying hard to make it long distance in the 1st few years. The 1st few years of a start up is super demanding of your time and energy if you are the founder. Without a huge amount of capitals, you need to do everything yourself. Lesson : So be there for your business when you are starting out.

2. Market shifted = We lost of our market half way into the business. This was our biggest disappointments. 2 years after the business launched, competitors and imitators were mushrooming. And I had my visa problem so I weren't able to come back to Malaysia for 2 years. The business was left to the rest of the team. to make things worst, my partner was working full time so she weren't able to focus 101%. The team was afraid if we sell things at a higher price we were not able to compete so we were trying to compete in the region of not our market. So we lost our loyals who are able to pay a higher price and we couldn't grasp the lower end because there were so much imitators who sells below the market price. Lesson : Don't try to compete in other market but get to know your loyals and improve your service.

3. Time difference = Between UK and Msia. I used to work night time when my kids was sleeping, editing bad pictures, uploading and creating banners and doing promotions. But after months of working at night and taking care 2 babies in the daylight, my health started to take a toll on me. I was constantly sick and my mind was not focused. It had a huge effect on my mood which does not help when you are trying to raise kids. Until finally I decided to left everything on the hand of the team. Go easy on myself and I'll just come in when there are problems. The arrangement didn't work. Lesson : Refer no 1.

4. Cash flow and drastic expansion. = I knew this was going to be one of our problems but at that time i couldn't think of other solutions. We were making gold on sales and just when capitals starting to build, we rent a big warehouse and hired people with high pays. It was the easiest thing to do without me being there. We didn't anticipated the mushrooming of imitators and our business plans weren't solid enough. So we had cash flow problem after our 3rd year. Lesson : Don't try to expand to fast without having a solid financial plan.

5. Inventory = Our inventory was in-organised. All orders that were unpaid and canceled were left doing nothing for months. The stocks didn't went on the web as soon as it was supposed to. Lesson : Never leave your inventories in the hands of unreliable people.

Business is challenging and starting it alone was be a little demotivated. But most entrepreneur will say that it is worthwhile. It takes solid plan and perseverance (Istiqomah is what my mom always said) to surely make it successful. I wish you all the luck for those starting out.

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