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Why Success Can Lead To Failure And Other Things You Need To Know About Business

Setting up a business in Singapore and the ins and outs of the event planning business.

Nick Oxborrow: "Setting up a business in Singapore from a logistics perspective is easy. The key to any good business is knowing when you’ve reached a stage and when to grow… plus a really good accountant."

The event industry for most people I know is a lifelong passion endeavour. Enjoying the overall look and feel of the final project is what gives us so much satisfaction after all the hard work is done. Setting up Fabulation is one of the best things I’ve ever done as it gave life to my dreams and I’ve been able to create and deliver some special and fabulous events. I am all for encouraging anyone setting up a business and letting their imagination unfold.

Setting up a business in Singapore from a logistics perspective is easy. The key to any good business is knowing when you’ve reached a stage and when to grow… plus a really good accountant. Most people plan to survive when they start a business, not to thrive. So imagine in one years’ time your business is a hit and the projects start rolling in – are you ready too scale up? I work with new businesses and talents all the time that set up and become successful but then see how they can suddenly start struggling with the weight of their success. The number one complaint I often hear is that processes have gotten out of hand and they need help, but no plan was made on how to add to their team. Plan to succeed, but also have a plan to scale up when your success rolls in.

The event industry is not regulated by any formal body. That means anybody can set up a company, print some business cards with the word “Event Director” and start hustling for business. The story behind the business card is the one that counts. Every event professional I’ve worked with in Singapore that is successful has the experience and the knowledge in their area that they work in. Before I set up Fabulation, I’ve run a small business, I’ve managed event projects all over the world and I’ve had the education up to Masters level in Hospitality. When I hit rough spots, it’s the experience that I’ve had in the past that I draw on to manage the issues on the table today.

The event industry is filled with both creatives and administrators or as I call it, left and right brained people. The left brained of you keep everything super organised and efficiently running along and the right brain allows the creativity to flow. The people that know who they are and stay in their lane are the successful ones. The worst case scenario is a right brained person trying to deliver left brain functions and vice versa. I see situations like this all the time such as a creative that doesn’t process invoices and worse, the most efficient administrator on the planet making decisions about colour and style. Let’s face it, the only people crazy enough to take on the events industry are ones that have a healthy ego – so knowing your strengths and who you are allows you to deliver the best of who you are and stay in the game.

When I think about an event, when you strip it down to its bare bones, it is all the same thing. A group of people coming together to enjoy, be entertained or educated and more often than not, given something to eat. I was once asked if I had any experience launching a ship. I said yes, except for one thing, I’ve never launched a ship. The event required an invitation for the guests, a marquee for the ceremony with a stage, microphone and good sound. We needed to write the program and serve food and beverages as refreshments. A lion dance was organised and a band entertained the guests whilst groups were escorted on to the ships at pre organised times. There was nothing particularly special to this that required any prior experience we didn’t already have except for one thing – the mechanism to smash the champagne on the hull. It took less than a day to find the right man for the job and thus the experienced ship launching service was born. The event and the design of the event is in the creative approach and the planning, the small nuances that make an event individual are just differences that need arranging as part of the big picture. The best people are the ones that know how to build the right team for the job and place their best foot forward.

The sky is the limit with the event industry. Everything and anything is possible but it all comes down to budget and resources. For us, keeping it fabulous is at the forefront of our work. When working with our clients, giving them solutions that deliver on their fantasy whilst taking into account the limitations is what we can do for them. In the same way we go to a lawyer for legal advice and a doctor for medical needs, our service, whilst it isn’t brain surgery, is about seeing the big picture so we can give them something so much more than they imagined. I see us like swans paddling furiously below the water but staying graceful on top. We are the event professionals and we know what is possible.