5 Lessons That Hui Mathews Learned When Her Startup Failed

Nobody is born successful. Some are born with a silver spoon in their mouths while some are born without even knowing what a spoon is. But despite this, everyone is still entitled to their own hardships and efforts to succeed.

Failure is sometimes inevitable, but during the hardest failures, the biggest and most important lessons are learned. If we just focus on the lessons and stand up and continue, we will go a long way.

Our point? Take ash be nimble for example, an activewear label that was founded by Hui Matthews in 2014. Her company’s mission is a good one and it picked up fast from the moment it was launched.

ABN 1
PHOTO CREDIT: ash be nimble

However, a few months back, they announced that the company will be lying low starting in January 2018.

For those who were confused. Hui sheds lights on the dark moments and leaves us with 5 lessons that she learned from her failed startup.

1. Depersonalize

When you have so much going on, it will be hard to function properly. Hui says that you have to depersonalize a little, but make sure that you are still vulnerable and functional. Putting less emotion on the fact that she will be closing her business gave way to new ideas and clearer direction for her new endeavor.

“It was when I started being less sentimental and emotional and dared to think about closing the business as a real option, and became less afraid of talking to people about it, that’s when I got more clarity, ideas, and input of the new direction of where I wanted to take the brand!”

2. Growth

In 2017, when she thought about the person that she had become, she didn’t like it. She found light when she started to become a better leader and started focusing on the growth of every individual on her team.

“People are the most important part, and people make all the difference.”

3. Stress

She realized that paying for her team can be very stressful. But knowing that you have to do something is more powerful. She realized she had to risk it and spend their money wisely, and then she used all their savings to bootstrap her company.

ABN 2
PHOTO CREDIT: ash be nimble

“At that point in time, I had about RM622 left. The reality hit hard when I wanted to send Asha to playschool in 2018 but realized I could not even pay for a term of fee upfront.”

4. Big picture

Looking back to when she first started ash be nimble, her goal was to earn at least 70 or 80 percent of her corporate salary in 3 to 4 years with a lot of time to play with her daughter. But in reality, there she was, four years after, just earning 25% of her last corporate salary, she barely has time to run once a week, and she never has time for her daughter.

“I also realized I’ve been swept up in the startup hype in KL. When I started ash be nimble, I wanted it to be a ‘lifestyle business’ that was self-sustaining after 3 to 4 years, could replicate 70 to 80 percent of my corporate salary, and free up my schedule to have kids and run a lot more! Four years later, I’m earning 25 percent of my last drawn salary, barely get time to run once a week, and sometimes am too stressed to give my baby the attention and love she needs. You need to ask yourself what kind of business you want to have!”

5. Don’t be afraid to fail

Lastly, she told people not to be afraid of failure. Because failures do not define you as a person and it doesn’t make you a failure. It is a lesson that is meant to teach you or guide you in a direction where you will be happier.

ABN 3
PHOTO CREDIT: ash be nimble

It will be painful, but you have to stand up and continue on your new path.

“Yes I am sad that this chapter has come to an end, but it’s like pulling off a band-aid: either you do it quickly and excruciatingly, or slowly and painfully.”