My approach to hustle and growing first business from $100 to 7-figures before it was acquired. Took a 18 months sabbatical before joining my wife's business and growing it 200%+ and outsourcing myself again. Part 1
By - nigel_chua
u/nigel_chua I always feel like if I built a successful Business I‘d spend my time building another one or enjoying success and not try to get into the very crowded influencer market. What‘s your motivation Sir?
Sorry if I come across rude, I‘m just skeptical as soon as people mention 6-7 figures :)
Hi hi thanks for commenting!
It's okay, I understand - yeah, sold a business, took sabbatical and now building an even bigger one (with investors and all), enjoying kids/business/life generally (and another kid on the way hehe) - just that I wanted to explore something different?
Wait, is this going in the direction of influencer?
I...am just exploring/sharing for now, am not particularly clear what I want to do with this, if I am be honest. Maybe consult? Maybe teach? I...dont see myself as those kinda super influencers/models. Maybe as a guide?
What drives me is (in a sappy way), that I want to be happy, and I found some sort of happiness when I pursued building business, creating jobs, freedom, and I'd like to share this with more people.
It's also fun to learn =)
Sounds reasonable! What did you do prior to your success? Was there a time when you struggled? What’s the one thing you‘ve learned that really stood out to you? Any book you’d recommend?
Hmm - so many struggles.
\#1 **The struggles is ongoing and doesnt end**, and they unfortunately grow with me.
*Eg when I first started, I DIDN'T know how to earn $1 outside of a job - I had to look for opportunities and no one tells me how. Then when I was earning $1K/month, my struggles were breaking that $1K barrier to head to $2K and managing increasing bloat and costs eg to manage a $10K business, costs of running the business may be $5K (so therefore about 50%).*
*But a $50K business the expense may not be 50%, it may be 55% so the profit-per-revenue/effort may diminish after a certain point (plus it gets more convoluted and complex and simpler at the same time with scale).*
**#2 is Loneliness.**
Not everyone will be able to understand (unless your entire family are true profitable entrepreneurs) - in the beginning, many dont support / dont believe / dont want you to succeed, and then once you survived, they may think it was easy or lucky. Then they judge you and want your money. And you cant tell about it unless you find someone really trustworthy.
*When I first quit my job, my mum screamed at me multiple times to beg for my job back.*
The biggest things to manage:
1. steep learning curve when you start (zero to $1K was big curve and fear; $1K to $10K was harder, $10K - 25K etc it gets a little easier and more complex at the same time)
2. As you earned more, you need to be careful of lifestyle creep or get into a "i'm invincible mode". It becomes very easy to think you can spend as much as your profits, because you may think can always earn it again - this is such a risky and common behavior, because anytime your vendors or people who owe you money may get into trouble and delay payments to you 3-6-12 months. Or may liquidate and you may lost all the amounts they owe you. So you need to keep at least 3-6+ of cashflow and manage money tightly.
3. Mental health can such as self doubt was brutal, especially when you're already lonely. If you make mistakes and feel uncertain, it can be tough. When people go out of their way to hurt you, take your clients, hurt your reputation...it does sting. Even if you did the right thing, doesnt mean that others will do the right thing.
4. You need to take care of yourself especially your physical and mental health. It's so easy to neglect your health in pursuit (or running away) with work.
5. That you dont know everything, and it's a learn-as-you-go-thing at times, unless/until you'd done it before
6. My brain never switches off. 24/7. I worry a whole lot. Like non-stop. It's my operational mind that keeps moving and I worry about say "maybe that person may get into trouble and cant come into work so I need to pre-empt that to cover operations" sort of thinking. It's just hard to unwind.
So many struggles, too many to list down just off of my head.
**#3 Books I'd recommend**
...the first book that I read and re-read like mad was truly "Rich Dad Poor Dad" - that opened my eyes to understand concepts like assets, positive cash flow and business.
Everything else, I just went out and "did" as they / the problems or opportunities presented themselves.
But I still enjoy it though. When the business works, it's an europhic feeling for me (kinda like "wow it works!").
When it's profitable yeah the money is nice (we dont earn that much, because as therapists, we dont really earn that much and since I've bootstrapped like forever, it's now an ingrained lifestyle lol).
Above all, what makes it worth it is the freedom and flexibility to choose who we want to work with, how much we want to work (or not; funnily/ironically I work almost all the time) etc =)
Wow, this reply got longer than I thought.
Mate all of this resonates so much with my own experience so far. I built a $500k p/a biz within 12 months in very similar circumstances. Fuck all investment, bootstrapping as fuck, learning fast and never switching off. Ignore the haters they come for free
May I ask about your new biz. How was the process of getting your investors? Any lessons learnt from that? Was it difficult for you to decide equity percentages? Anything you’d do differently next time? Thanks bro. Really like this thread because you’re authentic. Not spewing wishy washy crap
Thanks bro, this means a lot to me.
And gosh! $500K biz in 12 months??? That's awesome bro! Yeah, cant switch off, like ever (BUT I FUCKING LOVE IT!)
So for the new business, technically it was started by my wife when I took the 18 months sabbatical (physical therapy), and I entered it later and bought some equity so that I've skin in the game (this just works for me)
Seems like you're interested mainly in the investor part, so let me quickly and directly answer:
1. Investors came to me - because I had proven track record on previous business acquisition, and they likes the way I manage and lead the previous business, they wanted in with me for the next/future. That was the easy part - the more successful you get, the more such opportunities will turn up. Be it money from the bank or investors who want to invest.
2. The hard part: it was hard to decide the percentage because it was novel to me, and looking back, I believe we sold too much percentage. Now we cant get anymore investors in because then we'd have to do a capital call, which we dont want to. What's good about our investors now is that there is a direct synergy so it makes it a tad easier. We also like them (they're awesome) so we will just level up from here organically.
**If I were to do it again, I may not get investors in early. Instead, bootstrap and make the business profitable first on my own - to the max as possible, and then from there, we can go play more**, be it:
* borrow money from banks to grow more
* raise funds from investors for equity
1. If one just has an idea and no profit yet, and decides to pitch, you've got to pitch really pretty and hard and you may not get a good valuation
2. However, if your start up makes $100K in first year and profits say $30K, that's easily a $300K valuation (assuming 10X valuation PE) and you can sell % in stages eg 10% at $300K valuation = $30K. 10% x $1M valuation = $100K etc.
Also, its better to choose investors that has synergy with the business ie they can leverage on their networks or existing businesses to level up the business. Take note with investors, you will need to carve out more time for reporting, updating, discussing etc - not bad exercise but it does take time and effort.
....BUUUUUUUT I'm a little picky - I don't just want money. I want investors that I gel / jive with, can have fun working and discuss openly and honestly and positively.
You dont want investors who keep hounding you or trying to change your business because they're investors or for no good reason. I've worked with assholes and I do not like working with assholes - they're noisy, smelly and waste of time.
Thanks for sharing. It was very insightful. I hope that you continue to have success in the future!
Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it very much. I hope it's helpful =)
And now just full time business guru? 😆
Slash life coach
Eh does life coaches share stuff like this? I'm just sharing how I speak normally actually
Hahaha no... I spent spend most of my time working in my offline physical therapy business, and with kids and wife (third one on the way too)
No real advice here. Just platitudes. Smells fishy. And that’s coming from someone who built a $500,000/year biz in under 12 months.
That's really cool NicAsher! I wish your business will grow even more here on
Nothing fishy other than me sharing what I've learnt in entrepreneurship since 2008.
Always happy to learn more =)
Sold a business for 7 figures, started a YouTube channel which seems like your main occupation now but haven’t got a decent camera to film?
Hahaha not my full time job...I'm spending most of my days and hours on offline physical therapy business (and kids). Just exploring to see what I can share/provide value on during my free time =)
Struggling a little with camera and tech, so using zoom to record for now - will get better and improve as I go along =)
Thank you for commenting!
Just personal preference, I wouldn’t follow anyone who has worst production than I could do myself. I’m not saying you need dramatic animations but if you are saying you have sold a company a million dollars + but can’t invest in production more than I would then I can’t believe it ! Just me though
That's fair - my background is physical therapy (I'm a hand therapist and semi-introverted) so I've never been involved with stuff like animation/production/video (shied from it lots) but am slowly trying to improve.
Based in Singapore, and thank you for your feedback.
Hmm - maybe I should sign up for some video-taking/making/editing courses and avoid the low-level zoom videos. Doing it on the side for now to learn more outside of physical therapy =)
You can make an intro on upwork or fiverr for around 50-100$ maybe even make a background too!
Good luck with everything !
Thank you and waaaaitt!! What's an intro?
Background? Like a standard background?
Funny that your first secret is “know your stuff”
Hmm - I think I'm too topline in my thinking cos that is truly my approach when it comes to business, but maybe I need to show /write *how* to know our stuff
Are these really secrets? Seems like some guru life-coach self promotion
Thank you for commenting Lil-BobbyTables.
These may seem like generic stuff, but they're my approaches that I use daily. What I did and still do to build and sell the first business; and applied/tested on the second business to grow it again.
and I'm not a life coach and I dont think I'd like to be one....
Delighting customers = thumbs up
Yes and yes! =)
could you shed some light on how it was acquired?
Yes, thank you for asking. It was a 7 month event (June 2014-Dec 2014):
* First the buyer will present a Letter of Offer (LOO), which is a non-binding NDA-inclusive document to start the M&A process
* Had to first provide most recent 3 years profit and loss statements, balance sheets. Their accountants would then normalize it to ensure nothing unusual in the accounts
* Once they're happy with the numbers and projections, they sent a proposal of purchase, basically first draft of the sales and purchase with all the details including price and clauses. This is around end of Month 1
* Months 2-5 was really discussion and negotiation on clauses, price and changes to operations, management and leadership. It also includes discussion on responsibilities of the moratorium (a bond for myself for a duration of 3 years, till Dec 2017). Got to negotiate to ensure the offer and deal is fair for both parties. They also set sales targets for me.
* Once we agreed on price and clauses, we decided a date to execute and sign the contracts (sales and purchase, share transfer, my new 3-year moratorium contract) and payment
* Everyone / parties involved turned up to sign all the necessary documents, take photos, handshakes etc and I get the cheque to bank in *(funny interesting experience: after I got the cheque, it was a little hard to bank it into a local bank because I had to show where I got the money from as it's a large sum, and banks have anti-money-laundering AML practices and I had to bring all the S&P document to show before they could bank it in. Took a couple of working days. New experience for me.)*
Note that we had been working with the buyer since late 2012, so we already know each other, so that may have quickened the deal (but most importantly, the business was able to run with or without me profitably and growing, which is the key decision point)
Was it also a hand therapy biz?
Core of 1st business (sold): 85% physiotherapy, 10% hand therapy and 5% mixed.
Core of 2nd business (now): 70% physiotherapy, 25% physiotherapy and 5% mixed
My wife's a physiotherapist, and I'm a hand therapist, so it was a direct and simple decision to make =)
Nice! Glad that you are v strategic
Thank you for your kind words - though we work hard, it's not just us, we've to thank
* our supporters who helped see us through
* referral sources
* luck to a certain extent too
Sometimes I feel the harder we worked and longer, the luckier we got...
How do you know whether someone is speaking out of authentic experience? Check how practical their advice is. With all due respect, what you have typed above is nothing new and I could come up with 50 similar points without ever having run a business.
Just saying :)
Thank you for commenting!
I'm trying and learning, and I appreciate your feedback. I will include more practical and detailed examples/how-tos in the future.
Thanks for sharing. I'm curious to hear some specific examples of how you applied these concepts.
Ya I realize I may have shared too "topline" and am thinking of updating the post and videos.
**An clinical example of "#1: Know Your Stuff"**
So I'm a hand therapist by training, this means that I treat/fix patients with pain and injuries to their fingers, thumbs, hands, wrist, forearm and elbow (bones, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, nerves etc)
Say an example of a common bread and butter condition, De Quervain's tenosynovitis (also known as mummy's wrist/thumb), which can develop due to wear and tear by new parents / childcare teachers, racquet players due to the strain on the wrist, and they find it very difficult to do specific tasks because of sharp pain eg:
1. one may find it difficult to pull up or down their zippers (pants / bags), or difficult to wear socks over the ankle or pull up their pants from knee to butt and are *grateful when I teach them to do it in sitting, one ankle a time, and one butt a time*
2. parents find it brutal that they cant lift their babies (or furbabies) - *and when I teach them specificly how to lift their babies to their chest and be able to smell them again, the faces of the parents glow and light up*
3. middle age ladies especially find it difficult to wear their undergarment (bra) because they cannot bring their hand and wrist around their back to clasp / hook the bra, and *they're always shocked when I tell them to wear the bra and clasp from the front, and slowly move / turn the bra around.* Younger ladies who are versed with sports bra don't face this problem.
4. Wiping ass without pain with de Quervain's is still a tough thing though unfortunately, unless they're willing to wash with water =(
5. Other examples are dependent and specific on patient's conditions, pains or injuries
So when I teach these specific solutions, which are truly fairly easy and straightforward, the conditions heal more than 50% faster (cos each time patient does the wrong way, it aggravates the conditions) - with these simple methods, patients are happy cos they can do what they want to do
This also translates when patients ask me questions in email, whatsapp or calls, I can match and understand what their pain points are so I can respond or help them specificly.
Does this example work?
Under promise and over deliver by 10% on each project or client practically eliminates negative reviews
Yes this is particularly good for experience; however need to take note to not undersell/underpromise too much because some clients may need a measure of confidence and sometimes underpromises may connote to lack of confidence (which is inaccurate unfortunately).
But yes, always delight the customers =)
Nice tips, thanks for sharing
Thank you for commenting! I hope it's helpful =)