Lifestyle

M’sian bosses on their big business crisis resolution strategies

[This is a sponsored article with Red Bull.]

Entrepreneurs who have run their businesses for several years, even decades, are not one to shy away from the challenge. In fact, it is not uncommon for daily operations to involve some business difficulties.

However, when faced with a major crisis, something out of the ordinary, it requires a whole different level of perseverance and dedication to their work.

Red Bull, with their slogan “Mara Kita Membarachallenged us to find entrepreneurs to learn about their worst crises in their entrepreneurial journey and how they overcame them.

Losing a core member when starting a business early

To kick things off, we spoke with Izumi Inoue, founder and CEO of Bereev, a death preparation business that helps you plan for what happens after you go, guide and comfort your loved ones.

He mentioned that his big meltdown came very early in the business, when his co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) left because personal circumstances made it difficult for him. continue.

However, unlike previous challenges, the co-founder’s departure means he has no one else to turn to, especially on technical issues.

Worse yet, it came just weeks after raising their first round, which meant he was under extra pressure to rectify the situation so as not to dent the confidence of new investors. mine.

Image credit: Bereev

Izumi emphasized, “It was extremely painful. In fact, it was the first and only time I cried during this journey. I find it very difficult to shake off the thought that my dream is going to end before it even begins.”

However, despite the difficulties, the thought of giving up still did not appear in his mind.

Instead, like the spirit of Red Bull Plus’s tagline, he persevered through and started looking for the right candidates for his company’s CTO mission.

Image credit: Bereev

Eventually, Izumi found someone who was the right fit and could resonate with his business, as he had experienced a similar personal loss before. Since then, Izumi mentions that things will get better pretty quickly.

After that experience, Izumi learned to stay calm even under extreme stress, not overreact and not let emotions dictate her actions.

Almost his entire product line was destroyed by natural causes

Boey Tze Zhou is the founder and CEO of both Eko Agro Biotech Sdn Bhd and Fungitech Sdn Bhd. He produces edible mushrooms, mushroom supplements and mycelium biomaterials for eco-friendly packaging.

Boey shows off her mycelium eco packaging / Image credit: Boey Tze Zhou

Boey’s big business meltdown occurred in 2017, exactly one year after his mushroom farm went live.

Although they grow mushrooms all year round, they do not rotate crops due to poor management and outdated mushroom growing technology.

Crop rotation is a process by which different crops are grown on the same substrate, in order to maintain the productive capacity of the substrate.

Their outdated way of doing things has left about 70% of their production affected by diseases and pests, and it was a problem that lasted for a year with a lot of loss.

As a new entrepreneur at the time, month after month of financial losses took a toll on Boey’s mental health. He was forced to reduce his salary by 70%, which was just enough to maintain his basic needs.

Unlike other challenges he has faced before, this particular crisis is more complicated, as no case study or company has experienced something similar to his knowledge. at that moment.

“I thought about giving up, until my wife became pregnant with our first child. Since then, I knew I didn’t have much time left, and I started to feel financially stressed,” he expressed.

(Left): White oyster mushroom (Right): Inside the white oyster mushroom farm / Photo source: Boey Tze Zhou

Then he found out that someone in Sepang was using a specific mushroom growing technology that could solve his problem, so he had faith and drove more than 13 hours from Penang to Sepang and back. Fortunately, the technology was able to fix the problem he was having.

On top of that, with some of the improvements he later made, such as installing evaporative cooling pads and switching from gray oyster mushrooms to white oyster mushrooms (known to be resistant to disease and better pests), his company began to divert profits.

When asked what the main takeaways from the whole challenge were, he said: “Before that crisis was resolved, I (and almost all the mushroom growers I met) always thought that growing mushrooms It’s a tough industry.”

“After that crisis, I felt that growing mushrooms was a leisure business, although it cannot generate high profit margins, the demand is sustainable and is evidence of a recession,” he continued. .

Toxic company culture almost ended her startup

Image credit: Cadence

Cadence from Emery School of Coffee, a business that offers barista courses from leisure to professional certification, says their business crisis happened not long ago due to negligence.

More specifically, she said: “For a while, I went to work on a number of projects abroad and focused more on the training aspect of the business, ignoring the personnel and organizational management. of the cafe.”

The Coffee Room at Emery Coffee School / Image Credit: Cadence

“It started with a senior employee having difficulty working with one of the managers due to a personal grudge. Company culture becomes very toxic when silent treatments, small talk, and back-and-forth become the norm,” she continued.

Having said that, she felt so exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally that she lost weight because of the constant anxiety of having to multi-task.

Also, this happened at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult to spend large sums of money to find the right candidate for the job. She also had to clean up classrooms that had been left over due to previous mobility restrictions.

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Coffee Lab at Emery Coffee School / Image Credit: Cadence

She even considered giving up the business at the coffee school to move into a business with less human involvement.

But instead, she found the strength to focus all of her attention on making her business work better, while also making the work environment and work culture pleasant. than.

The crisis started to take a turn for the better when she hired enough employees that fit the business and the culture.

To prevent this crisis from recurring, Cadence said, “Whenever we detect a teammate is not going in the same direction as us, we become more assertive and quickly take corrective actions.” necessary treatment.”

Cadence also adapted the company’s hierarchy to a vertical organizational structure with more responsibility for each level of the organization, instead of a horizontal and flexible structure that gives more autonomy to each employee. pellets.

After going through this period of crisis, she says, “I have become calmer and more indifferent to any issues I face at work. Now, I can see them simply as a by-product of entrepreneurship.”

“I’ve learned to see and deal with them effectively in a gentle way that doesn’t take up too much of my time and energy.”

His entire supply chain is down

Finally, we have Raymond Tea, founder of DTS Group, who opened Nelayanku, a restaurant specializing in fish meals, in Bukit Jalil in December 2021.

DTS Group has been in business since 2001. They started by supplying meat shrimp to hawkers before expanding into an end-to-end supply chain for aquaculture and seafood supply in Malaysia.

Raymond expressed that the biggest challenge in their more than 20 years of business is the COVID-19 pandemic. The nationwide shutdown in 2020 has brought critical processes like production and shipping to a halt for at least two years.

Furthermore, as they participate in a large part of the seafood supply chain from farming to transportation, movement restrictions have resulted in the DTS group facing huge financial losses.

“I can’t stand having my employees lose the money they need to support their families,” Raymond stressed. I also wonder how the company will sell processed products. “

It also affects his physical and mental health. He has trouble sleeping and has no appetite as this crisis has severely affected their business and their lives.

Wanting to do something, they started researching and developing ready-made meals derived from Barramundi fish. This later led to the founding of Nelayanku.

Since then, the business has grown slowly but surely back on track, and on top of that, Raymond claims that market demand for seafood is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

Some of the many dishes served at Nelayanku

“We believe we have grown stronger since the pandemic. It has increased our stress tolerance and our desire for change,” reassures Raymond.

The proof of this lies in the way they have developed new business ideas, launched new products based on what has been researched and developed during the pandemic, and established new sales channels.

They even turned fish collagen into flavored jelly that can be eaten

– // –

Overall, a common theme from interviewing all of the entrepreneurs above is that persistence and perseverance are important qualities to have when running your own business.

I also learned that a lot of things can make or break your business, be it your own team, lack of expertise in your field, unforeseen circumstances etc.

It is important that they do not feel sorry for themselves or blame external factors for the unfortunate situations they find themselves in. Instead, they recognize their own mistakes and take the necessary steps to overcome their crisis, even when they are at their lowest. .

It is with that attitude that they can strive to overcome difficulties, which Red Bull Plus wants to remind all Malaysians that they can too.

Whether at work, when playing sports, when playing games or studying, Red Bull Plus aims to inspire Malaysians to keep striving and believe that one day they will achieve greatness. grand.

  • Learn more about Red Bull’s Mara Kita Membara here.
  • Learn more about Red Bull Plus here.

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