Meeting Sant for the first time was akin to meeting a celebrity.
He was the one that did the copy for Adam Khoo’s advertisement when they first launch and created their original marketing system.
It helped the company grew exponentially and became what they are today.
I have read and followed him closely when I chanced upon the workshops he was running.
He was focusing mainly on copywriting back then and branched out to include different types of workshops such as Facebook marketing and strategic marketing (which covers positioning, branding, business strategy, etc.)
When I first met him a couple years back, he was sharing an office in a small shophouse at the corner of Geylang.
His company has since expanded to their own premise in UB.One building at Ubi area.
Within a couple of years, he grew from a one-man operation to a dozen team members:
1. Please share a bit about what you do.
I’m the founder of Maneuver Marketing Pte Ltd.
We’re a results-based marketing consultancy and training business focusing on helping SMEs grow their business, sales and profits through highly effective marketing strategies and techniques.
2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a few different people: an actor or director or entrepreneur or teacher or detective or writer, etc. But all of them have a common denominator – to be someone who makes a big positive impact in other people’s lives.
I’m pursuing that dream now as an entrepreneur and a coach and mentor to others.
I think I’m blessed to be living my purpose.
The journey is long and there are a lot of things I need to achieve, but I’m happy to be walking on this path.
3. What were you doing before starting this business?
I have been in the consultancy and marketing business for more than 10 years now.
Before that I was involved in the self-development and coaching industry.
That was when my passion for helping others developed.
Seeing others change and transform their lives is an amazing feeling.
And before that I was doing various odd jobs like waitering, garbage collector, office boy, line cook for a Japanese restaurant, door-to-door salesman, etc.
4. How did the idea for your business come about?
There are two distinct phases of my business so far.
The first is when I was just doing marketing consultancy myself.
The second is when I started a new venture to do training for SMEs and grow my team about two years ago, in 2014.
I started doing marketing consultancy because of a few reasons:
- I was very passionate about marketing, specifically results-based marketing strategies and I thought that it would make a big difference in a lot SMEs when they can implement these strategies.
- I saw that a lot of SMEs in Singapore didn’t know about these strategies and that gave me an edge to serve them. I could help them get dramatic results within a short time.
- There were very little others who have a level of mastery in results-based marketing strategies. You couldn’t learn these strategies and techniques in any school. You had to learn it from companies that were doing it. And in those days, there were very little such companies in Singapore. So competition were also lesser. Even though that also meant that lesser of the target market knew about what results-based marketing was, it made sense to me to go into it.
I started to do business and marketing training and grow my team about two years ago because I started asking myself whether I was satisfied with what I was doing in my life – I wasn’t.
I wanted to make a bigger impact and achieve much bigger things.
I knew it was a “now or never” kind of situation and I went for it.
I should’ve done it much, much earlier. I was too comfortable and complacent for too long.
But now I’m on the path and doing my best to make up for lost time.
5. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
There had been so many sacrifices and I think the sacrifices will continue as we grow.
I had lost friends, been ridiculed by loved ones, lost money, been betrayed multiple times, gave up lots of life’s luxuries in the beginning, etc.
Recently we just had our first baby and the time away from her due to work is a big sacrifice.
Some more painful than others.
But I think there are a lot of other more successful entrepreneurs who have sacrificed a lot more and I think it’s part of the journey.
So in that context, I think I’ve been fortunate.
6. How did you get funded?
We’re self-funded so far.
We just start selling right from the start and become cash flow positive and profitable right from the start.
We’ve been very prudent with our cash flow and continue to reinvest into our business to grow it.
7. How do you go about marketing your business?
We walk our talk. So we implement the results-driven, direct-response marketing strategies that we teach other SMEs to do.
We have marketing funnels that attract qualified leads to our offers.
We use online and offline channels such as Facebook marketing, telemarketing, Joint Venture and a few others.
A lot of other SMEs are also using these channels, but they’re not using the direct-response strategies that create the big difference.
8. Could you describe your first sale and how it came about?
Ans: I can’t remember the very first sale that I did more than 10 years ago. All I could remember about it was that it was for a very low sum.
But two years ago when I started the training business, I used a content marketing strategy to get pretty good initial attention of my target market.
I further cultivated them and create a strong enough desire so that when I made the first offer I made about $50,000 and use only less than $100.
It was pretty awesome and it helped kickstart this journey.
9. Describe your typical work day?
Most of the days I’ll spend the morning working from home so I can be with my family.
I’ll be in touch with my team via our chat group.
I’ve been blessed with really great team leaders and team members who know what they need to do to move toward our goals.
I’ll be in the office in the afternoon.
I’ll either do my work, client coaching, troubleshooting campaigns with the team or planning for our next-steps.
When I go back I’ll spend a bit of time with our baby if she’s still awake, then prepare for the next things that we need to do in the coming days.
I’ll also spend sometime thinking about strategic matters, such as where the company is heading, the various opportunities that are presented to us, etc.
Sometimes, in the evening I’ll do coaching with my team to help them improve their skills.
If we have workshops, then we’ll be going to the venue and deliver the training for our participants.
10. What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
I’ve built million-dollar businesses within a short time, become a National Bestseller with a business book (which is super rare) and I’ve achieved some pretty cool things.
But my proudest achievement so far is to be able to groom some really talented team members and have team leaders who are now rising stars in the industry.
One of the reasons I decided to start this new venture is to create a platform to groom and coach young talents.
I believe that it’s possible to build highly successful business while making a big positive impact to the market we’re serving and to have a positive impact to the youth who are hungry and looking for guidance and mentorship.
It’s not the most profit-focused or cost-effective approach to building a business as there are limitations to this idea. We spend a lot of time in coaching and training internally, which is cost against the business to a certain extent.
But it’s very fulfilling to witness them grow, mature and achieve a certain level of mastery. And this coaching and training culture has become part of our company’s DNA. That’s something I’m really proud of.
At the same time, I’m also being practical and I know that not everyone is a good fit with our culture and what we’re trying to do.
11. What was the lowest point for you in this business?
There were many challenges in any business venture.
But personally for me, the lowest point was when there was betrayal from people we trusted.
I learned that we have to be more stringent with the people we want to work with and groom.
A simple mistake can mean a lot of time lost for us as we invest a lot of time coaching and training our team and partners.
12. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
Ironically, I was a pretty lazy guy when I didn’t have clarity of what I wanted to pursue in my life.
But it kinda changed when I have clarity of my purpose.
I think my mother has a big influence on me on that aspect.
She worked tirelessly, no matter the conditions, to get things done.
I saw her worked really hard just to provide a better future and opportunities for her children.
I also look up to entrepreneurs who have strong work ethics. Compared to them, I’m still pretty lazy.
13. If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him?
Decide what you want your life to be about – your purpose, whatever it is.
What are you going to dedicate your life to?
The earlier you decide that and commit to it, the more congruent you are going to be and the faster you’re going to achieve it.
There’s the saying: “Youth is wasted on the young”.
I feel that kinda described me as well.
I wasted a lot of my youth just being comfortable and complacent.
If I can have a do-over, this is definitely the most crucial advice I’ll follow.
Start early. And get the right mentor.
14. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
To rely on / trust people who have been “doing it for a long time”.
Lots of people don’t know what they’re doing, even when they’ve been doing something for a long time.
[Tweet “Lots of people don’t know what they’re doing, even when they’ve been doing it for a long time – Sant Qiu”]
15. What’s your business focus for this year?
To triple our revenue and enter a couple of new and exciting markets.
We have a pretty big plan that will take a few years to achieve, but a few exciting things are already starting to happen this year.
16. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
Plan the day and have a to-do list based on priority.
17. Is there an app or tool you can’t live without?
Telegram chat app. Our team uses this to communicate extensively.
You can find out more about Sant Qiu at:
Facebook Group: www.fb.com/groups/GrowthTribe
Facebook Page: www.fb.com/santqiu