4 Weeks On. My Journey into Purpose

It’s been 4 weeks since Purpose was announced. It’s a grand vision–to make Purpose Asia’s claim in the space of fine cycling clothing and accessories. The dream is to be able to say that Purpose can take on the likes of Rapha, Morvelo and other brands like these, yet truth is, it’s much too early to tell. Thus the simple goal to make Purpose Asia’s claim in this space.

I had written a short article about Purpose and intentions here on my own personal blog — Opinionist.asia. When it was written, it was still a vision. Now 4 weeks on I had passed a major milestone on Purpose - it’s first prototype. Getting the prototype ready took three rounds of iterations. Even now there are some minor kinks to work out before hitting the button on mass production. Without doubt that I am extremely happy with the progress made.

Though these weren’t without pains, there were also many learning experiences. Learnings that I’ve gone through and undoubtedly still am going through.

Below are some of them, condensed into 5 areas, as I undertake this venture called Purpose, of making Asian cycling brand with international appeal. Bear in mind that these learnings are entirely mine. Yours or others may be different as the things that you do or even in how you approach a problem may be unique to what you are trying to achieve.

  1. There are support all around, yet you/I are on our own. The support and help has been tremendous. And for this I have so many friends and family members to be thankful for. Yet through all of these, I’ve learnt to accept that success or failure of this business falls entirely onto myself. I make the decisions thus there shall be no one else to blame should Purpose not happen. Along this 4 week old journey, I have received fantastic advises from friends and connections. A huge amount of those are extremely useful. Yet underneath all that, the vision ultimately is one person’s–mine. I’m in the driver’s seat and I’m accountable for every step taken. Once I’ve learnt that such responsibilities–that taking losses (touch wood it doesn’t happen), come with these kinds of ventures, I’m making myself ready to move one more step into this space.
  2. Spend time thinking, spend time doing. Not both at the same time. Never before have I learn the difference, and value, of each of the action until now. Whilst I understand the merit of ‘just get it done’ approach, there are also tremendous value to sit about, letting go and just think. Purpose is set up embedded in the values of effort and flow. That while these two are inextricably linked, they are also uniquely separate activities. Each has it’s virtues. I have learnt, during some of Purpose’s effortful times, that only by letting go did I make progress with it. The few 20-hour nights at the beginning, going through many rounds of style and visual designs, trying to get at the right Purpose-ful product, only to trash them all one week later after giving it breathing space. Yet as soon as that happened, I arrived at the answer. I’ve learnt that in every endeavour to a solution, efforts are required in order for epiphany to happen. Thinking is not productive without action. Flow doesn’t happen unless there’s effort. We’ve to learn to be able to do things in drafts. Nothing will be perfect until we learn to let go of it and come back to it later.
  3. Money and passion are linked, one has to have the other for a pursuit to be productive. This is perhaps most often-said yet least experienced. Most times we work for money in order for us to be able to pursue our passion. I’m guilty of this in my entire 25 years of my professional life. Each of us has a passion, yet most of us has not been able to turn our passion into a productive one. As in, be able to follow our passion and turn it financially fruitful. For most of us, me included, it’s been one way–we work to be able to pursue/buy/rent our passion. But for passion to grow, we ned to be able to back it up with money. If we can find someone to fund it great, but the reality is, most times we have to fund our passion ourselves. If not for the long term, at the start at least. I’m learning to balance between passion and pursuit. Some days passion comes first, other days pursuit gets the focus. Passion is creates the product, pursuit is the process and cost control.
  4. Learn and unlearn fast. Personally I don’t subscribe to the notion of ‘fail and fail fast’ that’s been written up by other entrepreneurs lately. I don’t think that that’s a good frame of view. I think failing is negative and no one really wants to go out to fail. Even if in the end, that multiple failure lead to one major success. So it’s a conundrum. Instead I choose to see the actions and outcome of failing; and that’s learning. It’s through learning that we endeavour do things better, it’s through failing that we learn. And always, we learn new things even if we end up failing. So in doing things, always learn. The past 4 weeks has really been that. I would really love to be able to say with conviction that Purpose will succeed but I can’t. However in the meantime, I’m learning as much things as I can in the process. From sourcing out suppliers, to managing them, to negotiations, production phases and process, prototyping and many more. Most, if not all of these I’d never have learnt while managing an agency or creative teams. I’d still wouldn’t have learnt these even if I had been sitting on the client-side doing marketing or executive roles. I’m learning to be a business builder. I don’t see myself as one yet and perhaps maybe never. I’d still like to keep on learning along the way, every way.
  5. Embrace insecurities. They come along with progress. The 4 weeks has been great and I sincerely do think I’ve come along way in taking Purpose forward. Faster than some others on the same path by comparison. Yet, every day I still find myself thinking if some decisions made were the the correct ones. Or during the times when naysayers give a little too much advise, adding doubt into the entire process or vision of the company. And most of all, when the money starts depleting when Purpose is nowhere close to launch. So I’m learning to overcome this–to be able to distance myself from the decision that was made and return back to it after a short period of clarity. I’m learning to embrace these insecurities and not let them cloud my vision or decision making. What is important is that for every time I let go when the doubts get too strong, I make it a point to return back to it in the hours or days to come, address it and not turn it into a reason for procrastination.

Thank you for reading. Please look out for my next update on Medium. This post also appears on my personal blog Opinionist.Asia. Do visit when you have time.