Test Your Ideas with Strangers – And Other Tips from Our CEO, David Liu

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[3-minute read]

Introducing David Liu – Truevo’s founder and CEO. David’s experience in the FinTech and banking sector goes back over two decades. His vision to “grow Truevo into a multi-billion dollar company with a global reach” has given him the impetus to get through some seriously tough times. And here’s something you may not know about David – he is passionate about defending animal rights, so as an investor for his family office, he focuses on supporting philanthropic causes that really make an impact.

At Truevo, we’re working hard to become a resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs. To that end, we’re exploring topics that will help our audience to do better business, from marketing basics to customer retention strategies. We sat down with David to get his tips for small business founders, gleaned from the lessons he has learnt over the last 2 decades.

David, what inspires you as an entrepreneur?

“I am driven to create and build something that didn’t exist before. I have had many proud moments watching how our clients use our products and how Truevo has made a difference. I have seen our staff grow, start their own families, buy houses and cars. As a business owner, I never forget that my actions and decisions have a direct impact on the lives of others. Being a leader has been a humbling experience.”

What, in your opinion, are the qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

Perseverance: If your instinct is telling you that you are onto something good then never give up.

The belief in doing what you love: You can only persevere through the hard times (believe me, there will be many) if you are doing what you love. For any other reasons, you will give up.

Long-term thinking: Play for the long term, invest in long-term gains and don’t just focus on what you will gain in the next month or quarter.

Win-win deals: people do business with people they like so do deals that will allow both parties to win.”

What do business owners need to bear in mind when raising money?

“Choose your new investors very carefully. If you have a good business then it won’t be a problem raising the money, so be very selective about who you bring on as investors. Choose people who can contribute and help build your business. Do your due diligence (checks) and verify whether your potential investor can do what they claim, don’t just take their word for it. If you make a bad choice then you are stuck with them for many years. Half of the value that an investor can bring to the table is in the value-add, the other half – if not less – is the cash.”

What are your tips for small business owners?

“Test your ideas with strangers or potential customers, not family members, because family members will be biased and sometimes they will give you the wrong advice with good intentions because they want to protect you. If your idea can survive the opinion of strangers, then it’s got a shot. Don’t wait to perfect your idea or product – get it launched and iterate as you go along. As the saying goes, ‘build the plane as you fly’.”

What are the building blocks of a successful business?

“The right people. With the right team of people on board, you can do anything. In Jim Collins’s book, Good to Great, he talks about “First who, then what – get the right people on the bus”. It’s a must-read book.”

How do you win a marquee client as a small business?

Make them a crazy offer that they have to ask you to repeat twice and explain three times 😁

Here’s a true story: In my previous business, we had been trying to convince a major airline to use our instant bank transfer product for over a year. After going through different departments’ scrutiny like finance, customer service, ancillary services, marketing, etc. we got to a meeting with all these department heads so we could make our final pitch. Long story short, after an intense hour, all departments had no objection for the airline to put in our new payment method, but the CFO still wasn’t totally convinced. This was a make-it-or-break-it moment, so I made him an offer: “if after 6 months of using our product, you are not happy, we will refund you all the fees you’ve paid us in the previous 6 months – every single cent.” He had to ask me to repeat what I said twice and explain it to him in three different ways! We won them as a client, and even today after a decade we still have them as a client.

As a small business, you can make a crazy offer on the spot and win the customer that you want whereas in a big business, you’ll need many weeks to get multiple approvals. Use your small size to your advantage, be faster, more nimble and outsmart your bigger competitors.

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