Mr. Eddy Lee: Converting Challenges Into Success
Enfinitive Pte Ltd
Mr. Eddy Lee’s foray into entrepreneurship was not without the proverbial bumps on the road. In fact, when he and his friends set up Enfinitive Pte Ltd as a compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion company in 2008, they hardly knew they were off to a rough start. The years ahead saw them persevering towards a great finish. Here’s the story of their entrepreneurial journey and how they managed to convert tough market challenges into success.
Staying On Track Amidst Challenges: A Lesson On Foresight
In the beginning, the CNG conversion business in Singapore was touted as a sunrise business. Investors were nodding towards its direction with thumbs-up in the air. Eddy had thought he was steadily driving to a bright future. But it wasn’t long before CNG conversion meandered to the slow lane. That was only two years after they started the business. “The market forces caused CNG to go down. We had to change our business structure almost overnight. All of a sudden, there were no cars for conversion,” Eddy recalls.
It dawned on him that he had to face challenges head on. “We decided whether we want to continue, what kind of business we can venture. Nevertheless since we decided this is our expertise, we said will stay with it. The challenge of course was that we lost some of our investment during that time.”Despite these setbacks, there were no regrets for Eddy, only learning. “The company started a bit over optimistic. We started a bit slower than we would have liked. If we started earlier the impact would not have been great; we would have had a few profitable months.” From this experience, Eddy learned that businesses need to have better back up plans. “Now we plan ahead. We plan more for the future.” Part of that plan is to expand Enfinitive’s services and to secure more contracts. “Right now we just secured some contracts. We have a car dealer we are working with on the workshop side. We plan to grow more on the project basis,” Eddy says.
Eddy and his co-founders at Enfinitive lost part of their investments in the beginning. But this did not sap their enthusiasm for the business. “No matter what happens, everything is a challenge. We were not successful at the start, but we managed to push through. We know we can still do a lot better. Right now, I see us a small enterprise. What we envision is a lot bigger,” Eddy says with his entrepreneurial fire ever burning.
Keeping The Entrepreneurial Fire Alive: Meeting Daily Challenges With Creativity
For Eddy Lee, the best part of being an entrepreneur is that every day is like driving on a new road and staying on track despite obstacles that may come your way. “When you are an employee there are certain decisions you do not make. You cannot propel yourself to greater heights. As entrepreneur you see more things, learn more things, and learn from more people. Hardships come, but you learn from them and then you live a very inspiring life.”
Eddy derives inspiration from two of his entrepreneur friends. Prior to setting up Enfinitive, he joined a friend in his retail business and has seen him handle all the birth pains of a new business. In fact, it was this friend who had the foresight that CNG business will bloom, but eventually it will wither away. Another associate also gives Eddy inspiration. “They started off offering audio systems for new cars. He did that and from there he grew. He had a foresight that the local market was going to be bad. The COE is going up. The number of new cars is going down. So this friend of ours does 70% of his business overseas despite his family being in Singapore. Now his business is strong. Foresight is key,” Eddy ponders.
Every day, Eddy jumps off his bed excited. This zest for the job is something he rubs off on his staff of 10+, who he treats as family. “We are more than company. Generally we are more a family. Still we have to maintain employer-employee distinction. At the end of the day, we are small and easily manageable. We are more comfortable so it feels more like family.”This is the way Eddy has instilled the same values upon his workers. They come to work driven to see Enfinitive grow to its fullest potentials.
Advice To The Rising Entrepreneur: Go For It!
“I think a lot of people want to start up. The main problem is work. We simply need to get it done,” Eddy is point-blank as he identifies the problem with most starting entrepreneurs. “Frankly a lot of my friends come to me with pretty good ideas. We go into a lot of discussion. At the last minute most will back out. They cannot move out of their comfort zone. If you think your idea is workable, do it rather than talk about it.”
For someone who has lost time and money when starting his business, this advice is rooted on sheer determination and true grit. Eddy Lee knows setting up and growing a business is not easy. “One thing we always believe is that no one is indispensable. So it’s always important to review the company structure so that despite market forces causing some changes, the company can move on.” In fact, one of the most satisfying moments in his life as an entrepreneur was when he managed to overturn the situation from bad to promising. “A lot of people might just give up. The market factors in the first two years were pretty bad with a lot of hardships, struggles money, time, everything lost. Still, the most satisfying part is our journey towards the growth.”
Beyond growth, Enfinitive is on its way to being a huge success. “For me success is to be able to manage both work and personal life. For a lot of us, working takes so much of our time. If you don’t have a balanced life, you can’t be successful,” the easy-going CEO concludes.