My first venture into entrepreneurship came right after completing my degree. I’d just submitted my final year project to a business plan competition and managed to win the second runner-up prize. Landing a high rank in that competition gave me the confidence to jump into entrepreneurship. And that was it, that was the turning point. You’ll hear people talk about a key event that changed their life, and for me, this was it.

But that journey didn’t come without its challenges, and my main concern was needing to satisfy others–from my customers’ and investors’ expectations to my employees’ needs and requirements. It took me 20 years to realize that if I wanted to shine and succeed in what I was doing, I needed to be proud of my day-to-day achievements and focus on being my true, authentic self instead of constantly changing myself just to fit the expectations of people around me.

That was the only mindset that gave me a true sense of belonging and validation–a feeling that I consider most important because it’s at the core of passion.

I highlight passion because, in my opinion, a company run without passion is a cold and boring one.

I’m often asked what inspired me to start Signature Market. And the answer is pretty simple: I wanted healthy food, but couldn’t find affordably priced options in the market. So we created our own–to connect the everyday consumer with healthy food and snack alternatives without having to pay an arm and a leg for it.

That’s also why we chose the D2C (direct-to-consumer) business model which allows us to send freshly roasted nuts directly to our customers. At the time, no one else was establishing that sort of experience and it was an instant hit among our customers. It also allowed us to avoid using any sort of preservatives just to maintain the freshness of the nut–and elevated the flavor and texture of our products significantly which made us an instant favorite with our customers. But I couldn’t have done this alone.

Apart from learning to trust myself and my instincts, I also learned the importance of having a dedicated team around you. The team that started with us when we first launched Signature Market has played an incredibly important role in our journey. We were support pillars for each other through the early stages, all of us emotionally invested in making this venture a success. And we stuck together, through the ups and downs of launching a fledgling company. That’s why we established the Employee Share Scheme (ESS)–to share the wealth of the company directly with the people who worked with us to achieve our dreams.

I highlight passion because, in my opinion, a company run without passion is a cold and boring one.

A key factor in our success is our mindset–mine and my teams’. We manifest success and abundance through everything that we do, from focusing on providing the best value to our customers and paying our suppliers promptly to encourage strong and healthy relationships, to treating every single team member at Signature Market with respect and encouragement.

We’re constantly asking ourselves: How does our work impact the world and contribute to society? I’m a firm believer that success is directly related to how we give back to the communities around us, and the more value that Signature Market adds to the world, the bigger we deserve to become.

And our business is so much more than a simple entity. It’s made of creative individuals and everything we do here has a personal touch and some of our characteristics. My co-founder loves shopping, I’m into tech, and we both love delicious, healthy food. And all these strengths combined have made Signature Market unique–no other company is doing things the same way as us. For instance, our Gratitude Journal. I’m a big believer in the law of attraction after I learned about it over four years ago. I started to share my newfound knowledge with my friends who now see me as their sifu for all things related to the law of attraction.

How does our work impact the world and contribute to society?

I have found it incredibly important to combine my strengths and passions in everything I do, and that stems from a belief that work is an integral part of life. If I can do what I’m passionate about during work, and it brings value to the company, then I should find new ways to bring my passions to the workplace. Because of this mindset, I’ve found that work no longer seems like an obligation and I actually look forward to getting back to it every day.

If I could say something to my younger self, I think I would’ve told him to be prouder of his accomplishments and to embrace his imperfections. To stop comparing himself to others and stop doing things just to please the people around him.

I’ve learned to invest time in creating things that I actually want to create and that positivity naturally attracts like-minded people to join the journey. But we’ve also got to learn to relax, take it easy once in a while, and enjoy the process. My mantra is that if something is too difficult, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but that the frequencies may be off. So I’ll take a step back and work towards my goal from a different angle.

Persistence is very different from stubbornness – one helps you work towards a goal, utilizing different methods and getting input from the team around you, while the other stays stuck on a single mechanism. I have a choice, and I choose to persist.

Persistence is very different from stubbornness.

But I’ll admit that it’s taken me years to get to this mindset. And so my advice to budding entrepreneurs who might be doubting themselves or running into bumps in the road is this: Always be true to yourself and tell your story through the products and services you offer.

Combine your strengths and passions, pull from the talent and input from those around you, and whatever you’re doing, make it unique. It’s part of you and your story. Remember, you want to create something that adds value to society and encourages people to gravitate towards you. And above all else, follow your heart and create a brand you can be proud of.

There are days that are hard and no great thing happens without its challenges, but it was all part of the journey that led me to where I am today. And if I could wind back time, I wouldn’t do a single thing differently.

Edwin Wang is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Signature Market, author of Gratitude Journal by Edwin Wang (2021 & 2022), and Co-Moderator of The Gratitude Movement (Clubhouse).

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