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6 Takeaways from starting my own business

Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to start a business, well everyone does. A few years prior to Nineteen95, there was a plan in motion to start a retail shop selling consumer electronics but stopped due to the lack of motivation. Nineteen95 wasn’t always what it is today. A year ago, I also planned to start an F&B with the name of “The Big Cheese” and a year later, a mac and cheese shop opened with that same name.
Here’s the Thing:
If you are planning to start your own business, there are a few things to take note and consider. This is the knowledge that I’ve gained over the past year leading to the start-up of Nineteen95.

1. Find your Passion

Knowing what you are passionate about will guide you towards what kind of business you will want to start.

How do you find your passion?

For me, it was through the years of working part-time jobs that I discovered what I was passionate about, and what I was good at.

The thing is:

Part-time jobs are the only way to know what you’re interested in. Having been through a couple of jobs, I clearly knew what I liked and disliked about each role that I was put in. If you have never been through a task personally, you will never experience the ups and downs of a job.

2. Hard work is key

There’s a saying: “Work smart, not work hard”. This is true to a certain extent. Many Millenials are often deceived by the quote and think that the way to success is to work smart only.

This is FALSE thinking:
There must be a balance between working smart and working hard. No amount of success ever came from JUST working smart.

Here’s what I did:

Once I got the idea to start the business, I did market research, competitor analysis, and a business plan. It was tough for me as I wasn’t a very studious person and I hated writing reports. There may be moments where you lose motivation, but never lose sight of your goal.

That was not all:

After registering the entity, I had to research and source for EVERYTHING. From deciding what kind of entity to incorporate to designing and sourcing for a carpenter for our customised cart, to sourcing for beans, designing the website, among other tasks.

3. Be prepared to lose friends and make new ones

Starting a business can take up a lot of your time. You have to set your priorities right and dedicate your time to the business.

Here’s what happened:

I myself am an avid PC gamer. I used to game with my friends every night and had tons of fun with them. But when I started planning for the business, I was so caught up that I didn’t have the time to play with them anymore, coupled with the exhaustion of coming back from camp.

But fret not:

Take this opportunity to make new friends – people that can be of benefit to your startup. Keep the friends that have similar mindsets and people that can provide opportunities. As you mature and grow in the marketplace, these are the people you will rely on.

4. Network is KEY

As mentioned above, having people that can benefit you and are ready to provide help is of the utmost importance when it comes to starting up. Always be vocal about what you are doing to the people around you otherwise no one knows what help to offer you.

Here’s the thing:

I wouldn’t have been able to start Nineteen95 without the help of a few close friends and family. A close friend of mine in Polytechnic, who also has his own business, gave me advice on starting up and what kind of entity to incorporate. He is also the person that helped me with my web hosting and POS system that we are currently using now.

It gets better:

Our customised cart was built by my uncle at a heavily discounted price. Fortunately, he spent most of his time in the construction industry and had the technical know-how and skills to build the cart.Another uncle of mine used to work as the head chef of the café that we procure our beans from. He was able to pass me a contact of one of the owners and this aided us in liaising with the cafe and our overall process of bean procurement.

And the best part:

We were able to secure a deal with a Clubhouse to operate at their vicinity on weekends. This was a major stepping stone for us as through the operations from the clubhouse, we were able to break even in a couple of months and streamline our processes.

5. Take every opportunity that comes

Whatever opportunity you find, be sure to take it. An opportunity, no matter how small, is still an opportunity after all.

Here’s the important part:

Don’t be afraid to put yourself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations.

I was invited to a networking session recently. I was very sceptical about such sessions as I knew that there was always going to be ulterior motives when attending such events. Well, let’s just say that through that session, I gained knowledge I wouldn’t have if I had not gone.

6. Learn new skills

Trying etching latte art


In business school, we were taught that the bigger the company, the more you specialize vertically. The smaller the company, the more you diversify horizontally.

I experienced this first hand:

Since there was only 2 of us, I had to become the company’s procurement, PR, Content Creator, Tech Support, Sales and Marketing, Advertisement, and the overall decision maker. While Julian was the Accounts, Logistics, Bookkeeper, and Admin. It forced me to learn things I normally wouldn’t have even thought about.

For example:

I learnt how to design the website from scratch. It took me a few days to get everything down. I screwed the website up 4 times and had to start over every single time which really frustrated me. Eventually, I managed to get the website up and running a in its current condition.

The good thing was:

I was able to control what I wanted on the website and designed it to however I liked it to be.

Next up:

I had to create my own content to fill the website and to use as promotional material. Boy, I hated using Photoshop and illustrator. I had zero knowledge of how to use the software. I had no choice but to learn by watching countless videos and numerous trial and error attempts.

As you can see:

Starting your own business forces you to do things you are unfamiliar with, thereby broadening your skill set and knowledge. It requires a lot of time, effort, and days of sleepless nights. Keep going at it, do not lose your vision, and eventually you will have your own startup one day!

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Nineteen95 the Espresso Bar
Mobile Coffee Catering Singapore

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Things no one will tell you about opening a F&B

As many know, for a couple of months, We at Nineteen95 ventured on a side project and collaborated to produce a F&B. Do note that we are no longer associated with such F&B. There are many ways to set up a startup, rights, wrongs and varying experiences! However, through the experience, we have learnt a lot about opening, operating as well as all that is good and bad about your own F&B. Here are some things no one will tell you about opening a F&B.

You will work more hours than you realize

Many look to opening their own startup to escape the 9-5 life. I am going to be honest and say, that idea was always in the back of my mind when I think about opening a F&B. However, we all fail to realize that we actually clock way more hours. Just considering at operation hours, you are likely to be at your establishment during its opening hours. Aside from that, there is prep work and even cleaning up to do before and after operational hours. That is easily an additional few hours into the day!
Well, many can see or account for such work hours, but we, as owners, do not realize the amount of time spent handling backend matters outside of operation hours. Scheduling shifts, ordering supplies, meetings, interviews etc. There is a hundred and one things to do within the designated time.

It takes time to profit

Anyone who sets out creating their own cafe or F&B, at the end of the day, are in it for the profits. What’s the point of venturing out and being your own boss but not rake in any profits? Lets be realistic here, everyone needs to support themselves or even their family right?
Its easy to imagine long lines and endless revenue with our novelty ideas. In reality, it actually takes time to break even with all the initial cost. On average, it takes about 2 years to break even.
Studies have shown that within the first 5 years, 8 of 10 cafes close down. Subsequently, 1 of the 2, that survives, will close down in the following 5 years.
One must recognize the fact that it takes time to profit. If it was so easy, everyone would have and will own their own business.

There isnt time to do it all yourself

We have all heard the saying “there is only 24 hours in a day”. The meaning behind it is that one will only have a said amount of time to do what they need in a day.
If you are thinking of running a F&b, do note that running a shop is never easy and is never a one person job. Even if you are at your F&b everyday, you cannot do everything from waiting tables to preparing the food.
Learn to structure a team and delegate your work or even outsource jobs. Even the busiest and most successful companies or restaurant relies on multiple staff to get the job done. Sometimes we have to put faith in the right people to run things while as an owner or manager to take care of the back end tasks.

No formula to success

We see dozens of cafes opening everyday during the cafe boom. But what works for one shop does not always work for the next. Don’t expect to copy a successful concept or style and expect to be successful. Find your own niche and emphasize it to establish your brand as own. We do recognize that not all business ideas and plans are unique but know that you have to set yourself or your brand apart from your competitors. This is what makes your brand or industry grow as time passes.
Once you found your niche, its not the time to relax and take it easy. Like people say, “easy come, easy go”.
There is really no real formula for success, we must keep working towards our goal to ensure success. Pay attention to what your customers tell you and adapt when necessary, from the latest food trends to the next Instagram worthy cafe, that every teen has to go to, your business needs to be both agile enough to keep up yet grounded enough to know what is important to the core customers.

Embrace Competition

What is arguably the most common question in our food loving country?
“What do you want to eat?”
Think about it, when you eat out, do you eat at the same place every single day for every single meal? So, why do you expect your customers to do the same?
Everyone needs variety, customers come and go. Hence, we need to remember what your niche is and highlight it. Embrace your competitors not insult them.
Talking bad about your competition doesn’t make your brand any better. It just makes you look like a jerk. Every business has its own competitive advantage, there are things you do better while there are things your competitor can excel in.
“A rising tide raises all ships”, you do not need to be the only person that succeed, instead think about how to rise with the tide. If your ship is sinking, then patch the holes and try to keep up with the rest!

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If you are looking for mobile coffee catering services, do check out our website at or drop us an email at

Nineteen95 the Espresso Bar
Mobile Coffee Catering Singapore