Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Story of GrowingStar Sdn Bhd

One of my greatest inspirations of a successful entrepreneur in Brunei is Mr Robin Leong. He is the owner of Growing Star Sdn Bhd. The company sells Ikea furniture and household items. A year ago I’ve conducted an interview with Mr Leong for my assignment and he was more eager to share his wonderful story on how it all started.

Before venturing into the world of business, Robin Leong worked in Royal Brunei Airlines for 15 years. He was an engineer who managed to climb the career ladder until he reached up to the level of Senior Strategic Marketing Officer.

By the time he reached the peak of his career, Robin realized that it was the end for him to progress further in the organization. Furthermore, he had to work at late hours and was given more responsibility, although his salary was considered sufficient for himself and his family. He never intended to run a business at that time.

One day, Robin and his friends visited a preview of the Anthony Robbins Personal Development Program at Sheraton Hotel. Robin was very curious and decided to enroll for this program which was held in Singapore. After registering, the group flew to Singapore and took the 3 day course.

The Anthony Robbins Personal Development Program in Singapore introduced Robin to a whole new experience in self-motivation and the power of thinking big. He learned to overcome fear and was fascinated at the exciting and fulfilling opportunities of becoming an entrepreneur. He finally found his ultimate goal in life; to start up his own business and be independent.

Anthony Robbins totally changed his life. After returning back from the course, Robin decided to do something big. His first step was to quit his job in Royal Brunei Airlines. Along with his group of friends, still highly motivated and very enthusiast of the exciting program they got into earlier, Robin formed a group of consultants for business motivation and development program. Inspired by Anthony Robbins, they made good use of their inspiration’s teachings and tools to conduct their own consultancy program for LiveWire, a business development workshop sponsored by Brunei Shell, sometime in 2001.

Robin’s First Business Attempt

After some minor setbacks, however, Robin Leong decided to go for a different approach in his career. He quit his consultancy program and ventured into retail business a few months later. Being a family man, he has a passion for children, and drove him to set up a small toy store in Shakirin Complex, Kiulap, called Growing Fun.

The concept of this toy store was providing fun, safe and educational toys for toddlers and children, ranging from colorful crayons to educational puzzles. The toys were in excellent quality and did not possess any choking hazards. Along with his wife, Robin focused on running the toy business full time.

Robin also has a passion for Ikea furniture, which he regularly purchased for his house and his shop from the Ikea Mall in Singapore. One day, one of his regular customers noticed a few of these furniture while shopping in his toy store in Kiulap and they were really interested in them. Robin told them that they were not for sale.

As more customers enquired about Robin's furniture throughout the weeks, he finally realized that selling Ikea Furniture would be a great idea. He finally offered to help his clients on getting the particular furniture without the burden of having his customers traveling all the way to Singapore to get them. In return, he would have to mark-up the price of the goods ordered to pay for his traveling and accommodation expenses and an extra profit.

Eventually, Robin’s customers favor more on purchasing Ikea furniture than his toys. He became more involved in traveling to Singapore to get his clients’ orders. After several business trips, he knew what he really had to do.

The Establishment of Growingstar Sdn Bhd

No sooner when more orders came in, Robin Leong finally decided to shift his business into a new direction. With the toy business abandoned, he embarked on selling Ikea furniture in Brunei. Growing Fun was then changed into Growingstar Sdn Bhd, a home furniture store selling Ikea products, ranging from table sets, armchairs, sofas, cabinets, drawers, stools and kitchenware.

Robin set the business up in Bangunan Warisan, Mata-Mata, Gadong and rented up to 5 units to fill up the spaces needed to occupy his bulky furniture and products. Unlike his previous business attempt, the furniture business is a more profitable and exciting venture for Robin.

The concept of Growingstar Sdn Bhd is simple. Robin purchases several furniture, one each of different models for each different category, from the Ikea Mall in Singapore and displays them at his 3 unit showroom for his customers to look at. Robin also relies on Ikea Catalogues that he subscribes to show his clients the products that they can purchase from Growing Star. His clients then select the particular product and Robin will make orders from the Ikea Mall in Singapore. The goods are then delivered to Growing Star in Brunei, and he then marks-up the price as affordable as possible for his clients.

The idea here is that Robin gives his clients the ease of getting Ikea Furniture faster without having to travel to Singapore to get them. Although these products are sold cheaper at the Ikea Mall in Singapore, the cost of accommodations e.g. traveling expenses, hotels, food etc, will be incurred if we have to buy them ourselves, so there is not much difference than getting them from Growing Star. Furthermore, getting them from Robin's store saves time and effort.

The Company’s Growth

With a strong financial back-up from his good business partners and the bank, as well as strong sales over the years, Robin Leong wasted no further in registering Growing Star as a private-limited company. He was able to maintain good cash flow in the business and employed more local workers to work in his company.

Like any other businesses, Growing Star Sdn Bhd also had its ups and downs. But with a positive mindset, Robin has been able to cope with these problems and keep his company in good management.

Over the past 2 years, Robin expanded his Ikea product range. He also provided special offers and discounts during the festive seasons e.g. Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Chinese New Year. Robin believes that customer care is crucial to his business, and so he maintains his pricing at an affordable rate and provides the quickest and efficient delivery to his clients.

Now, Growing Star Sdn Bhd is one of the most popular and well-recognized quality furniture distributors in Brunei. Robin still runs his business full-time, and is currently in the process of expanding his business by setting up several more branches in the country.

Then & Now

Robin Leong is now happily running his enterprise as the Managing Director of Growing Star Sdn Bhd. He manages his day-to-day running of the business in his small office located in his showroom. He is finally independent from working for someone else and finds being an entrepreneur a more challenging and exciting career compared to his previous job as an engineer in Royal Brunei Airlines.

Although Robin still has to work extra hours and has even more responsibilities, the business is a more fulfilling and rewarding experience for him as he is the boss and all the profits made by the business go to him. He earns more than his previous job. Even though he has achieved his dream of being a successful entrepreneur, he believes that success is just part of a journey.

Blogger Templates