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What I would do differently if I was 16 years old all over again

What I would do differently if I was 16 years old all over again

How does it feel to earn $30,000 in a month at the age of 16 years old? It must have felt wonderful I’m sure.

Recently I came across an article which details this 16-year-old student, Remus Er, from Geylang Methodist School, raking in $30,000 a month from reselling sneakers. My first thought was – good job! Being involved in entrepreneurship at such a young age certainly brings about value in the later stages in life.

It also led me to think deeply what I would have done different at the age of 16 years old? Even though I was working part-time at WinterTime selling winter clothes to people at an hourly rate of $5.5/hour, it was no where near this teen entrepreneur, where he buys limited edition sneakers and sells them for a hefty profit as high as 3x the price he paid.

Source: Channel News Asia

The article mentions how he source for the sneakers, find avenues to sell them, markets them on Carousell, Telegram and Whatsapp, and manages his employees. To me, these are all good traits to pick up from a young age.

If given a chance to live my life as a 16-year old again, I would have tried my hands at entrepreneurship and fail in the process, knowing that someday, the right business will come along. And who knows, maybe I would have avoided the rat race altogether.

In addition, starting entrepreneurship at a young age means that you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain given that time is on your side. Also, it teaches you things that are not taught in school. I wrote an article previously on why I think Shark Tank is one of the most interesting shows for aspiring entrepreneurs here.

These are some of the things I’ve picked up from reading the article.

A. Time Management

Juggling studies and a business is never easy. Most often than not, you have to put in the sacrifices eg sleep, time spent with family and friends, and even cutting down on unproductive activities.

However, it teaches you to prioritize your time, set strict schedules and adhere to it. There are so many things you need to do as a full-time student and part-time entrepreneur and you’ve got to focus on the important / value-adding stuff.

You will also find that time is money and most people want to get rich so that they can “buy back” time in the future. Till today, I struggle some days know that I am caught in the rat race and finding ways to leave it.

Having good time management also allows you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which allows you to have more spare time to focus  and learn other things.

B. Sourcing

A private equity investment professional needs to know how to source good deals. A sales professional needs to know how to source his / her clients.

For Remus, he has learned how to source limited edition sneakers and this can be in the form of queuing up early before new launches, finding a trusted supplier overseas, or even building up his connections so that owners / sellers can sell it to him at a reasonable price.

What I’ve learned in the private equity industry is that not everybody needs to sell something at fair value. People are willing to sell it to you at a discount if you are decisive and trustworthy, knowing that their prized possession will be in your good hands. It all boils down to connections.

C. Creativity is key

It is useless if you can source good deals but can’t find ways to sell those sneakers. You will be tied down with lots of inventory.

Hence, getting creative and finding many platforms to sell your goods is key here. In this day and age, with technology, it is levelling the playing field for people.

Carousell becomes a widely used platform and can help people to earn a side income while they sell their goods.

Having outreach in Lazada, Shopee, Qoo10 will allow you to broaden your target audience as you’ll never know where sales lead will come from.

I’ve known of real estate agents making use of WeChat to connect with their mainland Chinese prospective buyers and have made many successful sales from it.

Source: Unsplash

D. Starting early will give you have a head start. The money you earn, save, and invest, will compound faster over time

We all have came across a zillion articles showing how compounding works. If I was 16 years old all over again, I would have aggressively earned, saved, and invest those monies to let it compound.

This is one of my biggest regret of not starting early after “O” levels and “A” levels when I was already earning some part-time income.

Source: One out of the zillion charts showing why compounding is good. Business Insider.

E. Selling is as much art as science

The art is selling is not as easy as it seems. It requires a good mix of persuasiveness, knowledge, credibility, trustworthiness, and also patience.

Gone are the days where people give in to high pressure tactics and hard selling tricks.

You have to find the right balance of being persuasive, yet providing a value for people.

F. Managing employees is an important skill in life

The article mentioned that Remus has 3 employees working for him and managing his website and social media accounts.

I believe this is such a valuable opportunity because it teaches him about leadership, empathy, and teamwork. Most people are able to manage “up” (ie. pleasing their bosses), but they may not be the most effective in managing “down” (ie. motivating their subordinates to work harder for them).

Source: Unsplash

G. The value of hard work can never be ignored

Nothing comes easy in life. The article stated that Remus had to wake up at 4am to buy sneakers just to beat the queue.

Who still remember the days sometime back in 2011-2012 where The New Paper ran a campaign to collect cutouts and allowed you to redeem English Premier League jerseys? This resonated with me because I remember I was queuing up at the Buzz stores at 5-6am to collect the redemption forms, and then reselling the jerseys on Carousell.

Also, hard work does not guarantee success. However, without any hard work, there is bound to be little success.

H. You become an expert in this field

Reselling sneakers requires knowledge especially to differentiate counterfeit goods vs legitimate goods. Fake goods are getting more and more difficult to tell. I have seen counterfeit Rolex watches that look almost identical to the real deal.

Being an expert in this field when not many people are gives you an edge over others. This in turn provides you with the credibility that people look for when they are finding a seller.

I. Summing it up

If I was 16 years old all over again, I would try more aggressively in the field of entrepreneurship. I took the path more commonly travelled as I was afraid to take risks ie. going to secondary school, junior college, and university.

I do envy my peers who went to polytechnic as they seem to be able to think out of the box better.

I find that taking the path less travelled is always more rewarding in the long term.

One of the success story which I would like to share is actually a senior from National University of Singapore, where he attempted 10 different businesses before finally finding one which is successful today – Math Prodigies.  It is a classic case of perseverance and sheer determination.

What would you have done differently if you were 16 years old again?

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