Scratch Your Own Itch and Other Lessons

Being in the shared-office business, I have had the great privilege of meeting a lot entrepreneurs. My centre is not exactly in prime location and my tenants aren’t exactly disrupting the industry either, but I have seen the most enterprising people walking through these corridors.

This beautiful couple that I interviewed in the first ever episode of #BorakBisnes were definitely one of them.

Meet Suhaili and Syukri from Olathe Apothecary.

While both were studying in university, they had planned to get married. Being loving, as well as enterprising, they ventured into various kinds of businesses together to fund their wedding and starting their nest egg together. However, soon after the wedding, things took a dive for Suhaili’s health as she suffered from a condition that made her put on a lot of weight. This needed more than a healthy diet and an exercise routine. Unfortunately, all the medication and supplements she took had adverse side affects.

At this point, Syukri decided it was time to take things in his own hands. He put on his student cap and dived deep into this subject and researched everything that was needed to know about his wife’s condition. With multiple iterations and experiments, they crafted this very successful product – LuSlimLaBeb.

Here are 3 things I learnt from them.

1) Scratch Your Own Itch. And Start.

This is a phrase I picked up from Tim Ferriss, one of my virtual mentors I’ve grown to admire. He says,

Make what you want to see or use yourself. Scratch your own itch

Suhaili and Syukri did exactly just that. They couldn’t find anything out there in the market that satisfied them. So they created it. They were resourceful and proactive to research on the best ingredients and formulas.

Once the product got the support from friends, did it dawn on them that they have accidentally stumbled upon a business opportunity that provides value, wellbeing and happiness.

This is a valuable lesson for all of those who are about to start a business. The very act of starting out, opened up the path and led them to the next steps.

Find something that YOU may need that’s not in the market.

And then do it.

2) Validate and Build A Community

Kevin Kelly wroteTo be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers. To make a living as a craftsperson, you need only thousands of true fans.”

When they first started out, it wasn’t a commercial product. It was purely to find a natural supplement for Suhaili to loss weight. And it worked! She started slimming down, and more importantly, she started feeling better about herself.

Once she decided to get back onto Instagram, things started to get interesting. Her friends and followers wanted to lose weight too.

She had gotten her validation and an automatic community to boot.

As Kevin Kelly says, by having true fans who are happy, loyal and have benefitted from you, you’d have an army of marketers who’d do the selling for you.

So focus on your fans and followers.

The positive culture that the Olathe team created is infectious and it shows in their bottom line.

3) Don’t Be Afraid To Grow

As every startup would know, managing the finances is crucial. Bootstrapping is important to stretch the small capital as long as possible. Just like most other startups, the Olathe duo started their operations from home; hoping to save money on rent.

But one of the key things in managing finances is about resource allocation; to know where to spend and when to save. The Olathe couple realised this when they moved out of their living room and into a shared office space. It may have cost them a little more every month, but by separating their personal space from their workspace, they increased their productivity tenfold. The increase in revenue far outweighs the cost incurred.

Not only that, Syukri took another bold move and hired his first staff. Sure, they could do the packing, delivering, customer care, social media marketing, and office admin themselves. But by hiring help, they allow themselves to focus on their strengths and key strategies for growth and development of the company.

Many small businesses worry about spending money. But don’t be afraid to grow. Done wisely, spending at the right places, and at the right time, could set you up for future success.

1 thought on “Scratch Your Own Itch and Other Lessons”

  1. One of the points that I like about this post is that The Pejabat has used real life case studies that are applicable in Malaysia. Many entrepreneurs jump start using a western model that might not always be feasible in our environment. We have to experiment and take risks. Kudos for this post. And yes, scratch your own itch and don’t let if fester…

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