Alvin Boey – Arrow Tyres

Alvin Boey (right in picture) is one of the three proud owners of Arrow Tyres, a supplier of quality and branded tyres, rims and batteries. Fresh from school, he set up the company with two friends barely a year upon graduation. And in a short span of less than two years, the trio has set up a second branch of Arrow Tyres.

1. Describe Arrow Tyres!

Arrow Tyres supplies customers with a wide range of quality tyres, rims and batteries. It also provides a 24/7 island-wide onsite service for vehicle owners stranded in emergency situations. The company believes in no-nonsense, ethical business conducts, and swear by superior customer service.

2. When and why did you decide to become an entrepreneur upon graduation?

I was inspired by many people, my dad most of all. He always encouraged me to learn and climb the corporate ladder of a prestigious company, which I tried (for a moment at least). But ever since I stepped foot in the corporate jungle, I felt 'trapped' due to the limited scope of vision that I was allowed to see and meddle with. Let's face it, you can't help mould a business in a company you're working for, even if you had the ability or wanted to. But of course I'm talking about major changes to the company, like its goal, or the way the business is run – and not where the paper basket should be placed so that more colleagues can access it.

Running a business gave me the freedom to have a say, and to make radical changes to the company. In a way, it gave me, the artist, to craft my own art.

I'd very much like to mention the attractive returns of a huge successful business, but chances of dramatic financial losses are equally likely in a failed one. And if you've read articles of successful businesses, some do not get returns for years running! Two sides to a coin yes? But challenges...? I LIKE!

3. What are your reasons for choosing to do business in this particular industry?

I love cars. And I believe passion is the main driver for most successful businesses.

4. How did you put together all the resources needed to start your business?

We started from scratch. Zip. Nothing. Okay, we had a little bit of savings to begin with but it didn't make starting up any easier.

Most of the knowledge we needed to run the business was learnt the hard way, and we made all kinds of mistakes. In general, we learnt to do everything ourselves: hiring staff, accounts, sourcing suppliers, inventory tracking, marketing, operations and et cetera. Getting our hands greasy and carbon-dust-filled nostrils are all in a day's work.

5. What are some interesting stories you have in starting up the business?

I was exposed to "The Blue Ocean Strategy" during my college days and was eagerly trying to implement it to every single business idea that I had. I discussed it with my partners and we came up with some ridiculously funny strategy to make our business unique. After what seemed like years of debates, we decided all the ideas were rubbish and scrapped all of it.

6. What are some of the challenges you faced in starting up?

We faced a million and one difficulties in terms of capital, cash-flow, low initial income, unprofessional staff, staff leaving, stock unavailability, competition, insufficient product knowledge and trade-related techniques, family commitments and et cetera. They are like hurdles that we cross with each phase of the business. Having gone through all these problems, it helps make future obstacles seem a tad easier.

7. How did you overcome these challenges?

There was once our shop was broken into. We lost a fraction of our inventory and some other valuables such as the 32" LCD TV and video console in our customer lounge area. It was quite a blow to us psychologically as we were never prepared for such incidents in the first place, and we were only months into the business. Cool minds and our insurance helped us climb out of the pit, and we were up and running in no time.

8. Can you remember your worst day in business or a time when you felt like giving up? What happened that made you feel that way and how did you triumph over it?

Juggling family and business is the toughest. When you work 24/7 for the business (literally, because we are open 7 days a week and offer 24 hours on-site emergency services), time management and sacrifice of leisure activities are crucial. When things started falling apart both at home, I felt lost and the importance of the business becomes seemingly superficial. Support from the ones who matter to you will prove to be the most valuable.

9. What are some of your proudest business achievements to date? And why are they so important and meaningful to you?

Since we're in the service industry, we feel a great sense of achievement when we receive compliments and referrals from our existing customers. Nothing beats positive feedback to remind us that we are on the right track.

10. What advice would you give young people who want to start their own business?

I like cheese, and the cheesy phrase "When times get tough, you get tougher" is my rule of thumb. So if you want to make things happen, then strive to make things happen.

Last but not least, I believe this applies to most young people who always had the "idea" of starting a business, or those uncertain ones who are waiting for your capital to "accumulate enough" or for your income to "stabilize" – they will never be, so stop procrastinating. Draw up a workable plan and go for it!

Related link: Arrow Tyres
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