Life in a start-up has been so busy that we sometimes forget to take time off to reflect. Today is Singapore’s 53rd birthday and people of all backgrounds come together as a nation to celebrate what we’ve achieved so far as a nation. Likewise, it’s been an exhilarating journey for our team at Glee Trees, building the company and our beloved proprietary product, Gleematic A.I. Robotic Process Automation software. We turned TWO on 1 July 2018 and we’ve learnt much in our journey thus far.
Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learnt.
Don’t get discouraged when others reject you. It’s always tough to be the “new kid on the block”. It takes time to build trust. Believe that you are creating value (which has to be proven, of course), and persevere. That does not mean that we obstinately keep doing things that are not working out. We have to review and change course if needed, so that we can continue to grow.
2. Take criticism positively
Just like how a mother would get upset if anyone criticised her baby, it’s only human that we tend to get offended when someone criticises something that is very close to our hearts. But criticism is not necessarily bad. We have to acknowledge that our product and company have many areas to improve on. We would not be able to learn from others to better ourselves, if we thought we were already perfect. It’s important to listen, clarify what the criticism is about, and decipher which areas we can improve on. For this, we are most thankful to our partners, customers and prospective-clients we've met, for giving us the much-needed feedback to continually improve ourselves.
3. Continuously disrupt yourself
The world of technology is changing so fast everyday and the requirements of the customers are dynamic. We have to continuously challenge ourselves to see if we can meet the demands of our users, even with limited resources. The new versions of our product have to disrupt our old ones, so that we can stand out from competition. We have to be resourceful to continuously disrupt ourselves.
4. Prioritise well
Managing a start-up is akin to a juggler’s work. You have to keep multiple balls in the air and you continuously get additional balls to juggle with. Sometimes, we have to decide what balls to drop so that we can concentrate on the other important balls to keep in the air. Learning to say “no” to some things is an acquired skill that is critical to keep ourselves sane while we keep our focus on the journey that we are on.
5. Bring in people with vision and passion for learning
I quote Peter Schutz, ex-president and CEO of Porsche, who once said, “Hire character. Train skill." We’ve built a team of passionate people who thrive on learning new things every day, and continually improve on what was done the day before. The people we bring on board must have basic skills, of course. But without good character and passion for continuous improvements, existing skills would amount to nothing. We’ve had our fair share of wrong hiring decisions and had to let go of some people, because it’s difficult to judge character. However, we are optimistic that bringing people with good character and passion will pay off in the long run.
I sincerely thank all my colleagues for your belief in this journey together! Much gratitude goes out to our customers too, for placing their trust in us to be of service to them. We are also thankful to our partners, for being on the "battlefield" with us to bring Gleematic to market. Without all of you, our company will be nothing.
I also hope that fellow Singapore enterprises and Singaporeans will continue to support one another, and band together to grow the Singapore brand.
Like the lyrics of one of Singapore’s national day songs go, we’re gonna show the world what Singapore can be… We can achieve… We can achieve!
Long live Singapore! Best wishes to fellow Singapore start-ups, especially those led by Singaporeans!
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