Sharon Goh. 义气子女.
Often in interviews, people tend to show the best of themselves for the audience. It is very hard to bring a real person out.
But during our meetup, Sharon right on the start is very direct and blunt to the point. She shared her most inner secret, fear, weakness, and suffering. I am honored and many times saddened to listen to her story. But amidst all of this, emerge a precious and beautiful flower which radiates hope, never give up attitude and a personality which is so rare, that it humbled me a lot. In comparison, my own problems and sufferings are so insignificant compared to what she had to endure.
Previously there were interviews and videos highlighted her success, but it did not do her justice in terms of telling the story of the level of difficulties she had to overcome. Let me WARN you if you are expecting to find a fairy tale and easy way to success, please do not continue reading.
It is so hard that when I am writing this blog, I wonder I should continue and not frighten readers.
She did not start with a degree and then joined a good company. She started when she was 18 to support her family. For the next few years, she had done nearly everything to survive. Working 3 jobs a day was normal. Selling person to person, door to door in old apartments, kampungs to kampungs carrying heavy bags of merchandise, she did it. In times she even had to sleep in rest houses just to save the toll and time!
It was very hard, but it was very good training. After facing so many rejections, Sharon developed a keen sense of opportunities and understanding of consumer behavior. She keeps selling after being rejected thousands of time and learned to build trust in a very short time frame in order to be able to sell.
TIP 1: If you don't give up finding ways to sell, and when the sufferings are enough, you will start to develop SUPERPOWERS in sales. This type of superpowers cannot be learned, cannot be taught and can only be endured. Sorry, there is no 5 step easy to click instruction to gain this superpower.
But she knows it was not enough with this skill sets. She sensed that IT & Computers will be a great tide of opportunity in the future. Thus without any qualifications and knowledge, she went for an IT related job interview. She impressed her first boss on her selling aptitude and was hired.
Typically in a traditional Chinese Business, sharing of knowledge was not common. Many feared that their own employees will become their competitors. Thus Sharon was instructed to focus only on sales and any access to technical know-how was limited. Soon, Sharon discovered without the on-ground technical knowledge of the details, her sales presentation could not compete with those which had such knowledge.
Thus during installation at night, Sharon often "curi-curi" went and worked with the installation team, to understand and learned the nitty-gritty details. After whole night installation, the technical team went home for rest. Sharon still had to wear her suit and went back to work and start selling again! She had no regrets, as this knowledge is very critical during her entrepreneurship.
TIP 2: Employment knowledge at times is very helpful and critical in entrepreneurship. Do not hate your job and learn and get the most out of it! Do more now is not a problem, because it is for the future! If you start your entrepreneur journey in a field which you are familiar and love, definitely you had a significant advantage compared to those which had none.
Finally, after gaining the important know-how, Sharon take the leap and started her own company. She went to source IT products from China and imported it back to Malaysia. This started her journey again going door to door in Low Yat Plaza and digital malls selling cables and display bracket.
She didn't start the business with glamour and high expectation or much capital. Sharon had to use old furniture abandoned by the tenant in a very small unit to start her business. For the first six months, it was very hard to just survive. At the worst time, she had to eat bread for a week!
Before she left her previous company, she was earning more than RM5k which was very high more than a decade ago. I asked, why not go back to employment after eating bread for a week? Simple. She was not willing to give up. Even just eating bread, she was living her life to the fullest and such satisfaction cannot be replaced by money security from employment.
But having experienced this before, she started to bring in sales and more repeated customer. And finally after the first six months "trial in fire" period, she graduated and her company started to grow.
TIPS 3: It is not a lost battle unless you give up. If you are looking for money security and success in an instance, she advised you to forget it. You had to dig deep inside your soul, and ask yourself do you want this? At times when you suffered the most, have no money with a lot of debts, you keep going. Inside you, you know you are living to the fullest moment of your life. If you are this kind of person, then just do it.
The next phase of her life was the most painful one. It is so painful that Sharon heart cannot take it anymore and she had to undergo an operation to live. When she decided to start on her own, she started with a partner. It started with a good intention only, without partnership agreement and exit strategy.
Soon the business grew. When things seem to be going well, human greed came in. The other partner started to bring his relatives into the companies. Sharon at the start didn't suspect much. But further down the road, the relationship started to break. The partner and his family relatives with same interest ganged up against Sharon. In times, even her safety was threatened.
Finally, after too much stress from her business, her heart pumped so fast at one time and she had to undergo an operation. After the operation, Sharon realized that it was not worth her life, even after all her hard work. She gave up her company and exited it without much remuneration.
This didn't stop there even after she exited. The company went downhill and could not repay the bank loans. Sharon was the guarantor of the loans! In the end, she had to negotiate with the bank many times and sell almost all her belongings to clear the debt. It was a very expensive and painful lesson on human greed for her
At this time, I just wanna share her this clip - minus the love part haha, else my wife will kill me.
TIP 4: If you want to partner with anyone in a business setup, please do not just based on words and good feelings. You must have the partner agreement stating the ground rules and the exit strategy. Don't ever underestimate that corruptive nature of money, success, and power to a person which had not taste it before.
Yet after this, she did not give up and went back to employment. She started again with IT COMP. Due to her past experience and networks, the company grew. Then she noticed the eCommerce started in Malaysia in the very early stage.
Nobody in the IT COMP knew anything in eCommerce. So she again JUST DO IT by herself. She learned to copy write, take photos and list online. She went to courses and talks to improved her capability. There was no Lazada University at that time to guide her that time!
People were laughing at that time, saying eCommerce was not possible for IT stuff like laptops to be ship to the consumer. Bad customer will receive the laptop, use it for a while and return to the seller. Some want to see how she did it before trying. At one time, a buyer complained only that she received only a rock from IT COMP and it went viral and become one of the most searched news online.
IT COMP just carried on. It was found later that the incident was not related to IT comp. The buyer went to IT comp Facebook page and explained the situation and thank IT comp for their professionalism in handling the matter. IT COMP just keep getting better and better in eCommerce. Now they are one of Lazada Legend Sellers!
However, she is not stopping now. She kept embracing new trends and changes. She is always in the front trying new stuff like her involvement in Wechat Pay. In her presentation, she encouraged others not to be afraid of change, face it and don't bother about the negative sentiment too much.
TIPS 5: If you want to try out new trends, be the leader. If you are a follower, then you lost the first opportunity to make it great. Fear is only in your mind. But you must be willing to grind and work hard to overcome the challenges. It is not a get rich fast journey.
How about her personal life?
Yes, she is still single now. Yes, She is a boss for many in IT COMP. The question Is she a tough boss? The crazy single lady boss in all those dramas?
She admits that she was a tough boss when she was young and aggressive. She is still aggressive in business now by all means.
However, the human side of her had grown out of the harshness of her life. Instead of bitterness, she learned to live life in hope. She is the frequent joker in her company that at times, her employees "beh tahan" and went back to work ignoring her cold jokes. However, when it is work, the people respect her for her tenacity and willingness to change and accept new trend. She had transformed to become a leader, not a lady boss in IT Comp.
Coincidentally, more than 10 years before, she had a tenant of a couple. The husband went to a similar event and was in the interview. They are close friends even now! At her toughest moment, the tenant even offered to loan Sharon his savings previously. Just imagine how is it possible that a landlord and a tenant can achieve such relationship?
This is the real Sharon. 义气子女. She always goes the extra mile for her employees and friends. She does not restrict her employee learning everything they can, even they might be leaving and become her competitor. At times, she even wanted the best for her employee which is leaving by discussing with them on their plans and help them achieve it!. If any employees of her disagree, write to me separately hehe.