When travel entrepreneur Simon Wong tried to launch a new business in Singapore, he was met with several big challenges — including lobbying government to change the law. He shares his experience while pointing out the difference between failure and giving up.
Failure is an essential part of success. This is a crucial lesson that I learnt when I decided to launch my business, Triquetra Sidecar Experiences (offering the world’s first vintage Vespa sidecar tour) in Singapore.
Too often in business, failure is viewed in a negative context, but it should not be considered as a sign of giving up. Instead, failure is part of a larger, ongoing process.
Every point of failure highlights areas where we can improve – it’s a blessing in disguise. When you try again you’ll often find subsequent attempts work better, and each time a project fails, it’s simply an indication that the system/infrastructure isn’t quite ready yet.
While ruminating over the idea of launching Triquetra it became apparent that in order to operate sidecars in Singapore, we would have to change the law — passenger-carrying sidecars were not allowed. And this would certainly require many attempts. We knew we could only fail and try again and, driven by some real deep-seated passion to make it work, we kept lobbying until we finally made it legal.
We then set about making another change to the law in order to allow sidecars to be used as tour vehicles. The initial answer from the authorities was, of course, no. We could have given up there and then, but we picked ourselves up and kept going. We learned that “no” didn’t mean failure, and we explored and discovered ways to iron out this crucial kink. Determination and passion is key.
Mentorship can also help us to accept our failures. Advice from those who have walked the path before you is as precious as gold. Always be humble and open to ask for advice. What you’ll often find is a slew of failure stories and strategies used to overcome obstacles – and you’ll realise that success doesn’t happen overnight, and that many wise, successful business people became progressively stronger by conquering a series of failures. You’ll learn to see the bigger picture and understand that each failure was but a link in a larger operating system.
If you are embarking on a new project, or looking to embrace a new business model, don’t be afraid of failure. To keep yourself motivated and on-track, set up a mentorship agreement, work with friends, and don’t be scared to ask for help — you don’t have to go at it alone. Don’t shy away from asking questions. Make a public declaration, perhaps to your peer group — it adds eustress. And finally, dare to be reckless sometimes. You never know what you might discover when you step outside of your comfort zone.
Simon Wong is the CEO and founder of Triquetra Sidecar Experiences, a touring company based in Singapore. After many trials and tribulations, Triquetra was successfully launched in August 2017.