Humble beginnings to exponential growth
July 28, 2023

Humble beginnings to exponential growth

My journey building LanciaConsult in Asia-Pacific

A 'Leaders at Lancia' post written by CS Lim, Executive Director, APAC

Every successful journey starts with a single step. 

As the founding team of LanciaConsult, we embarked on a mission to build a remarkable brand from scratch in the bustling entrepreneurial landscape of Singapore. Our path has been filled with both successes and struggles, teaching us invaluable lessons along the way. It is my first time writing about this, but let me share the highs and lows, lessons learned, and secrets behind our growth as we transformed from a team of two to a thriving company of 50 in Singapore and pushing 100 employees globally. Today we are the fastest-growing management and technology consultancy headquartered in Singapore. 

The early years: Working hard to win trust and partnerships 

We were an unknown brand in a competitive market in the early years. We had to rely on our networks and partnerships to secure projects. Every client was precious to us, and our reputation hinged on delivering exceptional work. We went the extra mile, surpassing expectations and building trust with every engagement. Excellent work became and still is, our calling card, opening doors to more opportunities and establishing our brand's credibility. One day, Jeff (Our CEO and co-founder) asked me what do we actually sell? Trust!

Valuing people: Investing in team growth and retention 

We understand the importance of nurturing our team members. Our commitment to doing the right thing for our employees remains steadfast. We prioritize their growth and provide them with a supportive environment. We have created a culture of loyalty and dedication by investing in their development and well-being. Our team members became ambassadors for our brand, driving our success further. 

Lessons in resilience: Overcoming client collapse and diversifying 

In 2019, we faced a significant challenge when a large client, who contributed significantly to our revenue, experienced a management team exit, leaving us vulnerable as we entered the pandemic year. The lesson we learned was clear: diversify our client base as soon as possible. We adapted swiftly, spreading our wings, leveraging our reputation for delivering quality work, and we actively sought new opportunities. This experience reinforced the importance of agility and preparedness for unforeseen circumstances.

Always try, fail, and get better: Embracing a growth mindset

In the thrilling journey of building our company, we discovered the incredible power of embracing a growth mindset. We learned that success comes from something other than consistently hitting the bullseye on the first try. Instead, courage comes from taking risks, trying new things, and learning from failures. We understand that not every shot we take will be perfect 100%, but every attempt is an opportunity for growth and improvement. We celebrate our successes, but we also celebrate our failures, as they are essential stepping stones toward greater achievements. We gained valuable insights, adjusted our strategies, and became more resilient with each loss. So, remember, never shy away from taking that shot. Embrace the mindset of continuous learning, experimentation, and improvement, for it is through these experiences that we flourish.

Embracing local leadership with global experience 

The preference for local businesses is strong in a growing economy like Singapore. We understood that having a local leadership team with global experience would give us a competitive advantage. We hired individuals who genuinely wanted to contribute to Singapore and Asian businesses, combining their international expertise with a deep understanding of the local market. This approach has allowed us to build strong relationships, adapt to cultural nuances, and deliver customized solutions. In 2018, we started our first internship program, which evolved into a robust training program. Our first intern is still with us today and leading some of our most complex delivery projects. We build our own!

Be prepared to manage cash flow wisely: The hawk-eye on financial planning 

Another crucial lesson we learned along the way is managing cash flow effectively. As a founding team, getting caught up in the excitement and becoming overly optimistic about the future is easy. However, having someone with a hawk-eye on cash and P&L planning from the get-go is essential. We learned this lesson the hard way. Being too aggressive and allowing costs to run wild without financial discipline can put your business at risk. So, prepare early, keep a close eye on cash flow, and ensure a healthy financial cadence to sustain and grow your business. Cash is king!

Marketing magic: Perception and fun 

In the business world, perception is key. We have always aimed to display our capabilities and expertise. We leveraged strategic marketing techniques to establish a strong brand presence and gain credibility. Additionally, we believed in the power of fun. We created an environment where team members and clients enjoyed working with us. People gravitate toward those who exude positivity, energy, and enthusiasm. Fun became an integral part of our brand identity. It still is! 

Building LanciaConsult from a team of two to a thriving company of 50 has been an extraordinary journey marked by successes, challenges, and invaluable lessons. Our early struggles taught us the importance of trust, reputation, and valuing every client. We weathered storms and diversified our client base, ensuring resilience in the face of uncertainties. Sticking to our vision while embracing evolution allowed us to achieve exponential growth. With a local leadership team supported by global experience, we forged strong relationships and catered to the needs of the Asian market. Finally, we recognized the impact of perception and the significance of having fun in our business interactions.

As we reflect on our journey, we remain committed to pushing boundaries, embracing innovation, and unlocking new opportunities. The entrepreneurial spirit that drove us from the beginning continues to inspire us to dream bigger and achieve even greater heights. Through our story, we aim to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs and demonstrate that with determination, resilience, and a dedicated team, building a successful brand out of nothing is not only possible but also immensely rewarding. 

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