Phuong Nguyen is a familiar name in Vietnam’s startup and corporate environment. If you’ve been following her on LinkedIn, you surely have read her opinion on sustainability (both locally and globally) and up-to-daete initiatives highlighting women and fashion. Of course, you wouldn’t miss her critical analysis of how businesses should embrace true “sustainability.”
A visionary with a unique approach to entrepreneurship and success, Phuong has carved a path for herself in the world of startups — from being the CEO of Vingroup JSC and Be Group JSC to launching her own business, Piktina.
Piktina is a social commerce platform for fashion lovers in the country. With its team of tech gurus and planet-caring individuals, Piktina’s goal is to connect people and fashion while reducing its negative impact on the environment.
One aspect that sets Phuong apart is her definition of success. To her, it’s all about setting clear goals and striving to achieve them.
“To me, success is when we can achieve the goals we set before doing anything. Therefore, it’s important to define end games clearly and always aim toward them.”
Phuong understands the importance of personal growth and development, spending at least four hours a day reading and dedicating one full day each week to thinking and reflecting. She believes this self-reflection is critical for success, especially for someone driving a startup company.
The CEO explains, “As a founder, I think it’s imperative to be critical about our ideas and constantly grow ourselves before we can think about growing our company.”
With a passion for solving problems in the market and creating sustainable value for society, Phuong approaches each idea with a critical eye. While she may face criticism and rejection along the way, she believes in the importance of being realistic and wise with her time. As they say, “It’s ok to have a dream and be determined about it; it’s another thing to be foolish. Our time to build is limited; use it wisely.”
Although the exact steps of launching a business may vary depending on the type of business and the industry in which it operates, here’s a list of Phuong Nguyen’s insights every aspiring entrepreneur needs to know when building one’s empire.
Be someone/something customers will remember
When starting a business, it's important to find a problem in the market that is significant enough to be worth solving but also one that you are capable of solving effectively. With the high level of competition in today's market, simply being another player in the industry is not enough to stand out and attract customers.
To succeed, you need to be the best at solving the problem you have identified. By delivering the best possible solution, you will establish a strong reputation and create a lasting impact in the market. This is critical to the success of your business and will help you to build a loyal customer base and achieve sustained growth over time.
Timing is everything
One essential factor that distinguishes successful companies from those is not their ideas or market, but their timing. The timing of entering the market and introducing your product or service can make all the difference in the success of your business. Remember to avoid hype, as building a successful business is quite similar to investing; you want to enter when people are fearful and get out when the market is excited. As a result, it will allow you to take advantage of market conditions and capitalize on opportunities that may be available.
Begin with the end in mind
Having a clear vision of where you want your business to end up can significantly improve the chances of success. Starting with the end in mind means clearly understanding your goals and objectives and working backward to figure out how to achieve them. This approach helps you stay focused on what is most important and avoid wasting resources like time, people, and capital on unproductive activities.
By being mindful of what you say “no” to, you can prioritize your resources and make the most out of what you have, leading to a more efficient and effective business. You've heard the saying, “it's 1% idea and 99% execution,” so starting with the end in mind will give you a better understanding of the steps required for successful execution.
People, people, people
When starting a business, it's necessary to prioritize people over money. Building a solid team should be the primary focus, and use time wisely, as it's a more valuable resource than money.
While fundraising is important, it shouldn't take up the majority of a founder's time. You’ve heard stories about founders spending 90% of their time doing fundraising before, and I know it’s important, but trust me, it’s much more important to spend time building your company than selling it.
Track the right metrics
The importance of tracking the right metrics cannot be overstated. The top-line growth or revenue generated may seem like the most critical metric, but it's not always the case.
For a business to be successful, it is essential to have customers willing to pay for its products or services. At the end of the day, whatever products you build, the customers who are willing to pay are what matters. So, whatever you need to do to find them, do find them.
Get more with less
This tip highlights the importance of being resourceful and efficient in business. Based on experience, the most common mistakes that we founders make are adding people to the problem or adding capital to scale, which often don’t work. By figuring out how to get more with less, businesses can be more sustainable and resilient in the long term.
Keep an eye on the cash flow
“Watching your cash flow” means keeping a close eye on the money coming in and going out of your business. Keeping a positive cash flow is paramount to ensure that you have enough money to run your operations, pay your employees, and invest in growth. On the other hand, negative cash flow can lead to financial difficulties and even bankruptcy if not appropriately managed.
As a founder, it is crucial to understand your cash flow, plan your expenses carefully, and take steps to improve it if necessary. Cash flow can be the founders’ most giant friend or enemy; the choice is yours.