Lessons from an Aspiring Entrepreneur: My first taste of failure! How I lost $300 :(

For the last few months, I have been working on some business ideas. On a completely unrelated project, a certain huge dance festival in Singapore was coming up and when given a small opportunity, I decided on impulse to try and sell something on the day of the event.

I was convinced that it was something that partygoers would love, and buy. I was sure it would be something in demand.

OK, I’ll tell you what it is – I wanted to sell glow-in-the-dark body paint for this dance event.


After 5 days of searching for glow-in-the-dark body paint in Singapore (I traversed costume shops, Spotlight at Dhoby Ghaut, and a number more shops etc but to no avail), I FINALLY found a supplier who was selling a small bottle at $19. Because it was so hard to find and I finally did, I bought a few bottles just for fun, for my friends and I to use at the party.

On the morning of the event, a Singaporean student (Student J) told me that he was helping another company to sell something else at the entrance of this event, and almost straightaway, I offered him a commission per bottle of body paint that he sold if he helped to push my product along with what he was selling.

He agreed, and I called the supplier straightaway to arrange urgent purchase of MANY more bottles.

I trust my judgement in people and I also trust the student that I got to work for me. I don’t think his sales skills was the problem, but the problem was just with reality… And a few more things.

I had used glow-in-the-dark body paint before in other countries at other similar beach-themed or night-time parties, and I adored it. It was pretty popular at these parties and among the party people.

I convinced myself that it was a great idea – I would buy it, my friends who I spoke to said they would buy it, so why wouldn’t other people buy it?


My best friend advised me to only execute it IF the supplier would give it to me on consignment (whatever I can’t sell, I can return at no cost to me). However, they did not agree. My best friend and my Dad said to forget it, but I went ahead and did it anyway.

When you believe in or want to do something, no one and nothing will stop you. Risks are like a pair of old spectacles that you wore in Secondary school – You don’t see risks clearly. You think you’re smarter than everyone else. You feel invincible.

It was a great feeling to outsource everything from the pick up of the glow paints, to the selling of it. I did nothing but constantly kept on the phone through Whatsapp with him.

He tried to sell my glow paint according to my sales strategy – the aim was $30-$35 per bottle to older party-goers especially Caucasians or Internationals, $25-$28 per bottle to Singaporeans/Chinese. I’m not racist, but it made business sense to profile customers and adjust costs accordingly. Student J caught on quick.

He called me to update me that he had put a bit of the glow paint on himself and his friends, to attract more attention. He called me later that the sales were going too slow – he had only managed to sell 3 bottles in 2 hours. He told me that he changed the strategy, and that he was now offering to paint partygoers for $5 but he was using as little of the paint as possible. I told him great job, and to go for it.

4 hours later, Student J had to leave the scene and almost 80% of the bottles that I had purchased were still left. I was stuck with stock.

I lost $300 that day, $300 that was really hard to earn and quickly lost. I feel like kicking myself!


I don’t know Student J very well, but I was fortunate to have met him at a random event and he struck me as a go-getter. He was young, but had a certain hunger and good attitude about him that I picked up straightaway. I gave him my number and told him to keep in touch. Even though this was only my first time getting him to work for me, I was really impressed with his quick-wit and performance in this exercise.

I definitely want to groom this one and I think he has a lot of potential ahead. If you need a part-timer to help with a project, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.


Should I have bought stock that I couldn’t sell? No. Did I know what I was doing? No. Was my cost price too high and the selling price too high? Yes and yes.

I learnt a valuable business lesson that day. No matter how much you are told or you think something may be a good (business) idea, it doesn’t matter – It helps to try and test the idea in on a smaller scale (Instead of going full steam ahead, I should have just tried selling a few bottles and then estimating the demand and circumstances).

I should have done more industry research and figured out what I was really doing.

Don’t be delusional or a dreamer like me – Testing any business idea is SO important.

At least, and at last, I finally stepped out of my comfort zone of “thinking” and moving into “doing”. I moved out of my world of “talking” and into the real world of “action”.

I finally tried to do something.

I failed, but nonetheless, I tried.

And so, this is how I learnt an important first lesson in failure that money can’t buy. Unfortunately, my failure cost me good money!

zoukout glow



Show Me Some Love

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s