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5 Life Lessons With Richard Xia, CEO and Co-Founder of Novelship

 More life lessons from some of the industries leading names.

We love nothing more than a good success story and Richard Xia's is just that. He went from two failed ventures to a business based in six countries, with $3M in monthly revenue, Richard has successfully turned his lifelong passion for sneakers into Asia’s fastest-growing marketplace for limited-edition sneakers, apparel and collectibles. Here we have his tips for success.


Lesson #1: Never take anything for granted

Never take assumptions, always verify them and always do plenty of market research before deciding on anything. I know that a lot of founders or entrepreneurs tend to have this thing called “founder’s intuition, ”I used to be a firm believer in that too, until one day I realised that many times, at least for my co-founder, Chris Xue and I, our founder’s intuition failed us. We were arguing and wasting time for nothing. So eventually we came to depend on actual data, user data, market data, rather than deciding things haphazardly. So for lesson #1, the most important thing for me, ALWAYS do your market research. Don’t take any assumptions for granted.

Lesson #2: Have an adaptive leadership style and trust your employees

Personally, from what I learnt, your management style needs to fit the situation and change all the time. Whether you're a five or two man team or even a 100 man team. Every time you reach a critical juncture or certain milestone, your management style itself has to evolve as well. The nature of our business has changed so much over the years. Subsequently, we also learnt to trust and empower our employees. Not think of them as someone who will just carry out our will but rather a separate individual partner in the business who can also come up with ideas and who can also get results. With that understanding, it became a lot easier for us rather than trying to handle every single thing ourselves.

Lesson #3: Always look at the big picture

That’s always the most important thing, right? Especially if your team is small, you tend to micromanage a lot and you try to be a perfectionist in every single area. That is a common trait among founders. But what I realise is that when I try to really focus on every single detail, I lose out on the big picture. So for me, it's a clear lesson on how to look at everything with a ‘big picture’ mindset because sometimes it really is not so much on how well you do in your particular area but sometimes in regards to how well you do relative to other players in the market as well. So it's not just about you, but rather where you stand in the entire market and of course things that sometimes you can’t control.

Lesson #4: Every setback has its lesson

To put it simply, don’t avoid mistakes, but try not to make them again. For me, what this means is that when mistakes are made, I look at if these mistakes are new and how I can avoid making them again. Instead of trying to play the blame game, which is a waste of time and not very productive. Plus it hurts the feelings of everyone involved. So rather than focusing on that, I try to divert everyone’s discussion to what went wrong and how we can avoid making the same mistake again.

Lesson #5: Unity is key

Always, especially among founders, your co-founders and business partners, always remember that unity is key. If there’s no more unity between the founders and the founding team then it’s very easy to fail because we all know that the castle always crumbles from within. Even from the first day when I started this business, I already had a good understanding of this. I always strive to have honest conversations with my co-founder and team.