The Virtual Events Guy
Felix Sim - Get Out! Events
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How would you describe yourself and what you do?
My name is Felix, and I am from a company named Get Out. We do virtual events. I’m pretty resourceful in being able to put things together and make things work. I also create profitable businesses in the process.
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
What inspired me is that I didn’t want to be stuck in a corporate job, help other people’s business, or put out people’s dreams, trying to impress those who work with me.
What does ‘grit” mean to you, and what lessons have you learnt as a result?
I think it means not giving up, regardless of what happens, what’s happening in the business, what’s happening in life, what people say, what people think. A few lessons that I’ve learned is if you want to be an entrepreneur and you want to start a business, grit is by default a characteristic that you need to have. If you don’t have that, there’s no point in attempting to start a startup business or get into entrepreneurship. I think grit is a lesson that itself is not something that can be taught. Having grit is a decision that entrepreneurs need to make because, again, as an entrepreneur, you’re not answerable to anybody except to yourself mainly.
How did your business get its initial clients?
We got our initial clients through grit. I did a lot of cold email outreach. Reaching out to random prospects and just testing different email sequences to see what sticks. It was constantly experimenting and trying before finding a formula to the message that works to a specific group of people you are trying to reach. Grit played a vital role because I had to send hundreds and thousands of emails to random people, to random prospects when I first started. To get people interested in what we are offering, I also had to get into phone calls, and I had to pitch and present what I was offering to prospective clients in the past.
There were lots of hits and misses during that time. Even if you find somebody interested in what you are doing and they wanted to see a portfolio of your past clients, that was something you would not have because you’re just starting. There were a lot of things that I had to experiment with. There were a lot of ways of selling. How do you answer questions like who were your clients, who have you done this service, who have you provided this service in the past when the answer was nobody. Those were the questions I have learned how to answer.
Having grit is important because a lot of times when you have to answer those questions, you get a bit shy, you get a bit embarrassed, you’re not sure what to say, you don’t know if you should or should not say certain things, and you tend to hold back. But the only way to succeed, especially when you are just starting, is to keep pushing forward.
What is work-life balance to you?
Work-life balance is primarily organizing your time and splitting your time into certain portions. As an entrepreneur, the business portion is extremely important, but the other part that is important to me is my family, giving myself enough time to spend with family, my wife and my kids.
That kind of responsibility on top of running a business, I see that as having a work-life balance and the importance of spending time with friends who are also people running businesses. We do sanity checks, talk about random things, bring down random ideas, nothing specific to the company I am running right now.
Having that kind of reality check with industry peers, with fellow entrepreneurs, is a good work-life balance for me and Daddy duties, husband duties. Those are not exactly duties or responsibilities that I feel are like taking up my time, but it gives me balance rather than stress every day and thinking about the actual business I am working.
Do you prefer if your team works remotely or from an office?
I prefer to have my team work 100% remotely, which is how I am designing the business to move forward. Being able to function, scale and grow with purely a 100% remote team. That is the direction I am taking in the business. I think I am still taking baby steps. I would prefer that because, if a business can function remotely, I can access talents from all over the world rather than having only to hire people who are in Singapore or have the legal ability to work in Singapore. That is something very important for tomorrow’s business.
That is my preference, but the reality is, there would still be key personnel, key members of the team that need to be in an office; in my case, it is home-office, my home. A few times a week, I’ll have some team members work from my home in a study room I created for them, but they are working from their own home most times of the week. We also have a remote team based in Indonesia and based in the Philippines.
Before the virus, I really have a remote team that supports the main business. Because of the virus, everybody was forced to work from home, and the entire business changed. There was really no need to hire staff physically sitting in an office with the new business model. The virus triggered the change. The new business model made it irrelevant to have the team working physically in the office.
I have always wanted the business to depend fully in remote staff – when I say remote; I don’t necessarily mean outside of Singapore. It could be Singaporeans working for our team from home or Starbucks, from anywhere they want, can be a Singaporean who wants a three-month holiday in Bali after the virus and they want to work in a villa there for the whole three months, I would absolutely be fine with that as well. I have always wanted the team to work remotely eventually, and the virus just accelerated the plan. It is good because it created an opportunity for our business even though we are servicing our clients remotely.
How do you keep up with news and trends?
I keep up with news and trends by talking to many people by meeting a lot of people. The best thing about now is that, because everyone is so used to Zoom meetings and meeting remotely, for one day, you can meet with ten different people rather than having to attend meetings and only have three sessions in a day that is in Singapore. Another good thing is because of the pandemic. I think many people worldwide have become more open to meeting new people in exploring new ideas and collaborating, so I see a lot more information sharing worldwide.
With all this increased openness from people, whether they are from the same industry like mine, which is events or completely different industries like training, coaching or sales or marketing, I usually have many overseas calls. We talk about the industry, talk about trends, and talk about what is happening outside of my industry to see if we could identify new opportunities before they become mainstream.
I don’t usually get news and trends from literally news and media online because I feel like it is already written and published somewhere, then it is not news anymore. I see it as yesterday’s news. I prefer to get my updates and do my research on trends from the great vine the most traditional way possible, which is talking to people.
How do you respond to negative feedback?
I get a lot of negative feedback because I have been in the business for a long, long time. Interestingly the negative feedback that I always get is not from clients. It is from observers from people around me who see what I do. I always tell my team that they should take criticism seriously, but they should not take it personally. We do not ignore negative feedback that we hear, that we get, but at the same time, we do not take it personally. We do not ignore it because sometimes you have to appreciate that there is no smoke without fire.
If there is a chance for somebody to give you negative feedback on something you are doing or something you have said, then maybe there is something there that they can catch, which you missed when you were planning your marketing. I think it is important to take negative feedback seriously. Still, at the same time, if you want to grow a business, you need to put yourself out there, you need to tell the people who you are, you need to be a real person, not just someone hiding behind the company logo or company email address.
I have learned this over the years, the more you put yourself out there, the more negative feedback you will attract to yourself because people know who you are, they know how you look like, they know how you speak, they know what accent you use, you need to be ready for those. The advice I always tell myself and my team is not to take it personally.
One point to add about this question is about responding to negative feedback. There are two types of responses; one is an external response where you literally respond to that feedback, and another is internal in regard to how you respond to that feedback. I’ve touched on an internal response to feedback. With regard to responding to negative feedback, my take on it is a lot of times, I don’t respond to it.
Meaning, if somebody gives negative feedback to me, whether on a public forum like social media or by email or by phone, I normally just don’t respond. I just take as they pass me a message, and they are not opening a discussion. It is a feedback that they have given to me, I will take it seriously, but I would not see a need to respond unless it is from my client and my client expects a response, then I will. If it is not a requirement to respond, then I will not.
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