WHILE many entrepreneurs harbour dreams of great success, few achieve such heights. Some of the key speakers at the recent Star Outstanding Business Awards coaching event (SOBA Lab) held at Menara Star provided insights into what it takes to gain access to greater success.

Among the speakers were Vitality Boost Sdn Bhd (Boost Juice) managing director and founder Dr Soraya Ismail, who shared her experience in carving a business based on her understanding of her product and the market.

Soraya, who is the master franchisor of Boost Juice Bars in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei said, despite operating the same business in the neighbouring countries she had to adapt to the different markets as each did not share the same tastes.

She added that in the case of her business it was also important to have a location with good visibility and heavy foot traffic which meant expensive leases, making the need to understand customers in different markets even more crucial.

“We have managed to grow from our first store in KLCC to 80 stores in the country today. We always trusted in our brand from the start,” she said.

Another speaker well received by the attendees was Sirius International (M) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and founder Anne Tham who owns and manages the private school Dwi Emas and its sister facility Sri Emas International School.

Her inspiration was from her own childhood memories of having no recollection of teachers who made teaching fun.

Now she makes sure the teachers in her international schools attend drama classes for better student engagement during lessons.

She said it was time the schools cater to the future demands of the workforce instead of falling back to the old ways of teaching. Her schools also place importance to entrepreneur skills.

PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd chief marketing officer Kuan Eu Jin, who was part of the panel discussion for a talk entitled “Technology – The Engine of Change”, said the company’s success is due decided to embraced technology.

“My CEO and managing director Datuk Michael Tio felt fighting against technology was a regressive move,” he said.

“The company now makes non-confidential announcements through our internal Facebook group instead of sticking notices in the office,” he said.

The company also encouraged housewives in the neighbourhood around the company’s location to work for the company on a part-time basis. This has enabled the company to reduce employment of foreign workers.

“In PKT Penang we have zero foreign workers,” he said.

Digi’s business division chief business officer Eugene Teh Yee said business opportunities were endless if entrepreneurs exploit the benefits of the digital world.

“Going digital allows the business owner to focus more on what they are passionate about in the business and technology gives them the platform to share that passion with their customers,” said Teh.

Meanwhile, RHB Bank Bhd group transaction banking head Chung Chee Kai said businesses could actually benefit from digital developments such as mobile payment as Malaysia advances towards becoming a cashless society.

Chung said the cost for companies to go digital, to set up e-commerce sites, for example, was a lot lower than the cost of handling cash.

Participant Alice Boong from SkillsOn Dot Com Sdn Bhd said her biggest take away from the event were the words of wisdom shared by Soraya of Boost Juice.

Boong was also impressed by the insights shared by Kuan from PKT Logistics about the importance of embracing technology and enlightened human resource policies.

“I will certainly share all that I learnt here with my workmates. This event was an eye-opening session for me,” she said.

Melisa Francis from OSL Projects Shipping Sdn Bhd, who helps with the family’s logistics business, said she was most inspired by the entrepreneurs who pioneered their own businesses and took their products to the next level.

“These entrepreneurs challenged the odds and reached success. She was so down to earth when she shared her story too,” said Melisa.

Another participant, Foo Chee Thong, said he enjoyed listening to the speakers but was looking forward to more smaller discussion groups in the future.

Others who were part of the panel discussion were Digi’s business division chief business officer Eugene Teh Yee, RHB Bank Bhd group transaction banking head Chung Chee Kai

The panel was moderated by Malaysia Retail Chain Association council member Raymond Woo.

Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) vice-president, SME advisory and marketing, Jenny Hoh shared an overview of the alternative funding options for new businesses to support growth.

SOBA 2018 is organised by Star Media Group with Digi, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) as co-sponsor, Matrade as official trade promotion partner and New World Petaling Jaya Hotel as official venue.

It is endorsed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO with 988, SuriaFM and dimsum as official media partners.