It is hard to build a successful new business these days, and people are afraid of making it with new ideas. If you’re considering making your own business, please read this article carefully. The Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed Lee Jun-ho (CEO, Diners Korean branch) founder of a cosmetics company and snacks made from tofu and pine nuts in Gapyeong, Korea.
|▲ Lee Jun-ho (CEO, Diners Korean branch)|
Q. How did you come up with the idea for a snack made from tofu and pine nuts?
The idea came to mind when I visited a tofu factory a few years ago. The owner was really old and he had been in the business for over 50 years. Although he was good at making tofu, he didn’t know how to promote and sell his products well, so I started to think about how I could change this.
Q. What is needed when people come up with a new business idea?
People usually think an idea has to be innovative and creative. However, I do not think this is true. Nowadays, people are so diverse and smart that there is nothing they haven’t tried, so it is difficult to succeed with a unique product because if it has not already been introduced, there is usually a reason.
Q. When you started the business, how did you get background knowledge about the process of production and distribution?
I learned it through hands-on experience. Of course, I went through many periods of trial and error because I hate to get information by just reading a book or through the internet. Therefore, I wanted to have direct field experience and learn
with a hands on approach.
Q. People are usually afraid of starting a new business. Did you experience any fear when you first started?
I think, everyone faces fears in their lives. Employees fear being fired and college students are afraid of the future. The point is, fear isn’t only a problem you face when starting a new business, but rather it is something that impacts all facets of
Q. Were there any hardship you faced when developing your new business?
I had a hard time twice. The first time was just last year. Someone told me investing in an IT business will be helpful, so I invested 5 billion won in it. However, I was rash and ended up losing my money. Actually, I didn’t have any knowledge or experience in IT, and I ran too short in my experience of investing. I already succeed many times before this happened, so I assumed this time would be no different. I realized I was wrong when it was already too late. I didn’t think IT as a new platform. I should have studied this field more before investing. My losses were a result of my own arrogance. The second one occurred when I was 25 years old. I had 20 billion won worth of debt. Now I know in my heart that humans have to be cautious and modest. However, I didn’t realize that at that time. I had made a contract with an American company, but I didn’t read it carefully. There was a clause in it that said, if the product wasn’t delivered within a specified period, my company would have to pay a large cancellation charge. The container had to go to New York in the U.S., but because of an airline mistake, it went to the Malaysia. It took about 4 to 7 days to chase down the container and as a result when the airline finally sent it to New York, it was after the deadline. The American company returned our products and said that they expected due process according to the terms of
Q. Since managing a business is not an easy thing, and society is suffering from tough economic times, many people look negatively at launching a new business.
When you started your company, did you have people trying to dissuade you?
When I told people that I’m going to start my own company, most people said, “You know nothing about it, so what makes you think you can do it? Even people smarter than you fail.” Despite what they said, I did everything I could do to succeed at that time. I thought that it was the only way. I woke up at 4-5
a.m. every day to get to work. My parents supported me with everything I needed. I also sought out the advice from others who succeeded in business development. Therefore, my advice is think positively about everything, as if there were no end. Then, you can make the breakthroughs you need to be a success.
Q. Is there anything people have to be careful about when starting out?
I can’t generalize it. Establishing a new business has many facets, and they all have different parts you need to watch out for. However, I can say this with confidence; whatever it is, study your industry with thorough market research. You have to know what the market is asking for.
Q. Is there anything you want to say to Dankookians?
Fix your goals with your environment. You have to make your goal clear, not just seek out glamorous things. Find something fun and something meaningful. Do everything you want to do and try everything you like. It is much better to go outside and experience the world than spending your days just sitting in a chair.
Establishing a new business does not require a lot of money, or grandiose ideas. Establishing a new business is mostly something people do to earn money, so most people do not have money when they start. If you are trying to start up a new business, remind yourself that if you don’t move you will make nothing, but when you start moving, the amount of money you can earn will be much different. This is the appeal of being an entrepreneur. You have to remember that only your effort can bring about great results.
Lee Do-hyeon,An Hee-jin firstname.lastname@example.org