However, it was soon very apparent that the owner does not have a business acumen based on the fact there was little market research and due diligence done on the industry before the commencement, few connections that are important to ensure the survival of the company during its initial years, and the worst of it all - hired the absolutely most useless quack business consultant that have I ever seen. Coupled with the fact that the owner does not have a mind of her own, and always listening to the consultant (whom my boss and team believed each appointed vendor recommended by her may mean a tidy sum of commission into her pockets), this start-up is sadly a recipe for failure.
As my job nature is high prolific in nature, it would mean a huge devastating reputational risk to me. However, it does confirm my beliefs:
1) You must have strong capital or strong backing
This owner has a lot of capital. My team are guessing she might have an initial capital of $5million.
2) You must have strong knowledge about the industry, which also means strong relevant connections that are essential to the survival of your business during the initial years.
This owner absolutely scored zero in this aspect. She has no knowledge about this industry based on the scanty market research/ due diligence that she conducted before commencing on this business. The worst thing is she based everything on coffee talk with friends or her own personal experience!!!
3) You must have the ability to identify who is a quack.
This tied in with the fact that you must have the knowledge about your industry. The owner hired a business consultant who cannot think of any ideas for her dear life. My team was guessing perhaps each vendor recommendation she got appointed successfully meant a tidy commission to her pocket secretly.
4) Know who to use for your business
Vendors are difficult to handle. They can also be extremely sarcastic or condescending (strange but true which I never figured out why – you pay for their services yet they are so rude to you) when they realised you do not know the business or their work. The owner actually chose her vendors based on other people’s testimonials (how could you trust their testimonials when they are not the experts? It is like asking a plumber to fix your electricity problems) or based on their size. Anyone in my profession knows that the bigger agencies usually have no attention to smaller companies and concentrate on putting their resources for their Fortune 500 clients. I myself have read so many condescending emails from these vendors, and witnessed so many condescending expressions from these agencies. One of them was the claimed top agency (I don’t believe in those industry awards anyway).
5) Finally and most importantly, to have a clear and firm direction
The owner is a lalang. When A says this, she goes this direction. When B says that, she changes her direction overnight. I don’t believe her business will be ready for launch next year.
However, I am glad to be paid to witness how a start-up should NOT have been conducted. I also realised from this episode that I am too old and do not have the energy level needed to handle the constant changes required in a start-up. Another good thing that came out of this was ideas for my next book!