23 Singaporean business leaders give advice in new book Why You Should Fail

Grace Lin and Vincent Ng decided to write the book to help people be more prepared in dealing with the challenging start-up scene here.
Grace Lin and Vincent Ng decided to write the book to help people be more prepared in dealing with the challenging start-up scene here.PHOTO: BLACK BOX PHOTOGRAPHY

Graduates Grace Lin and Vincent Ng hope to remove the stigma of failure with their book Why You Should Fail, which contains advice from 23 Singaporean business leaders

Failure is not such a bad thing.

That is the message two recent university graduates have for aspiring entrepreneurs in their new book, Why You Should Fail.

Launched last Friday, the selfpublished book by Grace Lin, 24, and Vincent Ng, 25, consists of advice by 23 Singaporean business leaders on how to build profitable businesses that last.

The entrepreneurs, whom the pair interviewed over the past year, include Mr Marcus Tan, co-founder of online marketplace Carousell, and Mr Lai Chang Wen, co-founder of logistics company Ninja Van.

The book retails at $25 and has sold more than 400 copies through pre-orders on its website.

Ng and Lin received some financial support from the LearnSG Seed Fund, given out by the Lifelong Learning Council, and from Maybank Singapore.

They decided to write a book to help people, especially their peers, be more prepared in dealing with the challenging start-up scene here.

"Many young people think that starting a business is very glamorous and are unprepared for the challenges. We hope to help minimise start-up failure in Singapore," says Lin, a Singapore Management University graduate.

They also hope to "remove the stigma of failure", she adds.

Both writers have been part of failed business ventures.

While in university, Lin formed an event management company with her friends, which failed after only four months due to their inexperience.

Ng, who graduated from National University of Singapore two months ago, has been an entrepreneur since he was 16, selling sweets to his friends in school for extra pocket money.

He has been part of multiple failed businesses since then, including an e-commerce company, which have caused him to lose thousands of dollars.

Writing a book was not initially on the cards for the pair, who met through a mutual friend. They were seeking a business mentor, but "didn't have any networks as university students", says Ng.

A chance meeting with Ms Christine Sim, chief executive of private business club The Entre Club, led to her becoming their mentor and, later, adviser for their book.

Ms Sim also introduced them to former Member of Parliament Leong Horn Kee, who founded The Entre Club, and together, they helped open doors to many of the entrepreneurs featured in the book.

Ng says: "At first, it was just us having conversations with these CEOs, but after talking to them, we realised a lot of our friends could benefit from their advice."

But starting a business is not just about making profits. Ng and Lin are both interested in social entrepreneurship.

Lin is the owner of Cornfessions, a gourmet popcorn business, and hopes to be able to hire people with special needs in the future.

She is now teaching her 28-yearold brother, who has special needs, how to make the popcorn.

Ng is using his proceeds from the book to start an "alternative university" in Singapore, to help people find out what kind of lives they want to lead.

He says: "When I was younger, I thought being an entrepreneur was about making more money. But now, it's more about social impact and how business can be a force for good."

•For more information or to purchase the book, go to whyyoushouldfail.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2017, with the headline 'It's okay to fail'. Print Edition | Subscribe