Sg Entrepreneurs of Cabaran 5 – Ridjal Noor

Today another Entrepreneur from the Singapore Passport Cabaran 101010 Family will be intoduced to all of you my brothers and sisters.

Our Entrepreneur today had quietly been progressing in a short 4 years of business into a GIANT. We will be watching this name growing bigger and bigger.

AbangAbu believe we can learn so much from our entrepreneur of the day . Introducing RIDJAL NOOR.  Lets get to know him now…..

1)What kind of business do you have? What inspired you to become an Entrepreneur business owner?

I run a design studio (Refreshink, and also a display company (Pullupstand, that offers portable solutions for exhibitions and events. We help marketers arm themselves with the ‘artillery’ they need to go out, impress customers and make killer sales.

I was inspired to be a business owner by my mom, who has been running her own catering business for over 15 years and also by exposure to other business owners through her contacts and friends. Being a business owner is a whole different ballgame from being an employee in a company. It requires a whole different mindset, and needs you to be fully engaged and in control of your life and your self.

2)Did you need to have a certain mindset to achieve success?

I worked in various companies (design house, marketing companies, even real estate) for 5 years before I finally decide to take the plunge. All along, during my employment years, I felt a sense of discontent and unhappiness, that I allowed someone else to call the shots and control what I did or had to do. I think seeing how my mom lives her life has made me yearn to aim for more in life. I always thought that to be your own boss, you must be super-disciplined, very smart and a ‘Type A’ personality, but I have come to learn this is not exactly true. Anyone can be an entrepreneur and business owner. To be a boss does not require perfection, but a desire to aim for becoming the best you can be. But in the early days of starting my business, I pushed myself hard, I really took discipline very seriously. Now I have learnt to relax a bit. You also have to love what you do, there’s no other way you can keep charging day after day towards the same purpose.

3)Have you noticed certain advantages to being an entrepreneur business owner?

Yes, you start to develop a better relationship with yourself, you respect yourself more for the sacrifices and hard work you put into building the business. There are people who loath themselves, or have self-esteem issues. Building a business really puts you in touch with yourself. Your mind, your body, your soul, all have to come together, in order to make this work. Your relationship to God, to your loved ones, everything is crucial. In order to be successful, you have to be at peace with your place in life. You grow much faster, in terms of maturity and knowledge and experience.

The first time someone addressed me as ‘Boss’, I felt really weird and embarrassed, but I have learnt to accept being addressed in this manner, and being treated with extra respect and to have leverage, negotiation power, etc. It is not something to harbor after, but it is an added responsibility you take upon your shoulders, and you must learn to handle well. Other people’s ricebowls depend on your actions, not just your own, so this makes you think harder.

4)Did you have a mentor to help you get started?

I did not have a mentor when I was starting out, but I have always been a voracious reader. I read magazines like Fast Company, Inc, Entrepreneur, and also biographies of businessmen, etc. There were a few months when I was hooked on watching the Sopranos. During that period, I found this to be an escapist guide of sorts. Tony Soprano was the ‘boss’ of a big outfit, he had to be tough, confident and make hard decisions, but inside he had many fears, worries and dilemmas. Things like these helped me along in my journey during my startup years.

I am also still in touch with my previous employer. Sometimes we have coffee together, talk about business, and this is very eye-opening. I am glad that I did not burn bridges or leave in bad circumstances or poach customers from my previous company. I believe strongly in ethical behavior in conducting business. In matters such as this, we only have to look at our prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) for his exemplary conduct in business and in life.

Right now, I do have people around me who share insights and lessons from their businesses. Mentors are important. This is why I joined Cabaran101010 too, for the mentors’ insights.

5)Approximately how much money did you invest before your business became profitable?

I was actually in credit card debt when I started my business. I had little to no savings. This, after working for 5 years. I proceeded to do something risky, take a GE loan of $10,000 to start my business. I had to psyche myself up for the possibility of business failure, so I put aside half of that $10k as my safety net, in case things did not work out. So with only $5k, I started the business from a spare bedroom. Thankfully, the risk paid off. My business was profitable from the 2nd month onward. In my first year, I already surpassed my previous year’s salary as an employee.

Over the next couple of years, I pumped back money from the earnings back into the business, getting office space, hiring staff, purchasing more equipment, inventory, accounting system, etc. This year we are on target to achieving $500,000 in sales. We are profitable, we now have to think of longevity, of creating a lasting future for the business.

6)What ways have you found to be most effective in marketing your product or service to get sales?

I tapped on my previous experience in web designing to design a company website that was functional – as a marketing tool – rather than for mere aesthetic. Using SEO (search engine optimization), getting the right name for the website, using client testimonials, providing multiple pricing levels to cater to different kinds of customers, and also always ready to update products to match trends in the industry. These were all important in getting us noticed and attracting orders. From day one, I knew that I wanted to have the most professional looking website, rivaling companies that have been around for 20 over years. From time to time, we have customers who assume we are a multi-national company, or that we have head offices in US, Australia, etc. This is all purely based on the customer’s perspective of our website and our services.

We also use Google Adwords to get high ranking in keyword searches. We spend about $2,000 to $3,000 a year on our Adwords campaign. It is quite effective too.

7)What tips can you give others who want to embrace their dream but, don’t have the confidence or feel they don’t have what it takes to succeed?

If you don’t try, you will never know. I think the saddest thing is to look back with regret when you’re old and frail. We give ourselves a lot of excuses why we cannot or should not do it, but all it needs is a bit of faith and confidence. You also need to shed the fear of failure. Business has no barriers. A degree holder has the same odds of success as an ‘O’ levels holder.

Also, you don’t need anyone’s approval to do what you want to do. Once you can wrap your mind around this fact, you start to look at things differently.

8)What’s next for you?

I am looking at expansion in the next 2-3 years, to grow and have a few branches worldwide, serving markets that are strong in the MICE industry. I would like to also consider other industries/businesses that I might want to venture into. Personally, it’s about developing a healthy appetite for risk. I look up to visionaries like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, people who storm into an industry and totally shake things up.


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