We all love to have someone who is a screw up in comparison to ourselves, simply because it makes us feel better. I admitted that was how I viewed my younger sister growing up when I would rescue her from time to time.
That was until we got separated by a thing called marriage and I proceeded to have a kid whose life I am completely responsible for. Unlike my sister, whom I can just wash my hands off after every rescue because our parents are still around.
I was suddenly completely free from her needing me, although a WhatsApp or two still emerge from time to time.
Three months into motherhood, she came by saying she has started a business. She sells reject, branded bags with no defects on Instagram because she hates it when my Dad preaches about her spending behaviour. This is why she “would like to make her own money”.
Mind you, she was just a 21-year-old at that time, a Generation Z who cares more about what’s in her ‘Gram than her classes at uni. And so, her quest began.
Learning by doing
She got nothing to lose, so she dove right in.
She spent about two months to find bag suppliers with a good price before she can mark up the price in her Instagram shop.
I think my ears were swollen shut from hearing her complaints about how suppliers are difficult to find, and that she was having a hard time. But she did not quit.
She then found one that was good enough to resell, and learned the kind of design and Instagram layout that would catch attention. She taught herself instant design by buying all the premiere and exclusive packages in order to eliminate the need of hiring designers.
She started small, selling one piece every other day, or sometimes none at all. With her approach to eliminating inventory altogether, she does not have anything that will cost her as she just dropships everything.
Taking a risk
Then, with zero business knowledge, she started to think of ways to speed up sales and scale-up. Purely relying on instinct, she started endorsing people who have influences in the industry she’s in: Fashion.
She spent a lot of money on this one. In order to get a buzz from these so-called influencers, one Instagram story post can cost her around US$35 for micro-influencers to US$560 for those with over 200,000 followers. The money she borrowed from my parents because she believed this would work.
And it sure did work.
She started doing three to five sales a day on good days, with one bag sold for around US$70 to US$175.
Soon she got the courage to endorse bigger fish with up to one million followers. It paid off and she started doing over ten sales per day.
Unlike me, she has got no bills to pay which allows her to wiggle her way to risk-taking. There is no high stake here, apart from taking a longer time to pay back our parents and a bitter taste of failure. She is in a position to become fearless, and that is her Generation Z privilege.
Generation Z’s edges
An article in Huffington Posts breaks down the difference between those who were born in 1995 and later (my sister) with those who reached adulthood in the 2000s (me).
It says that Gen Zs are overall less-focussed with lower attention span, a better multi-taskers, a self-learner, and more entrepreneurial than Millennials.
Due to a tech-enabled world they are basically born into, they view technology not as a brand new invention, but as a necessity.
“When it doesn’t get there that fast, they think something’s wrong,” said Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young.
My sister’s lack of focus –due to consuming Instagram post day-in and day-out– in a way contributed to her being less calculating when it comes to risk. Her multitasking capability allows her to grow from one to over ten sales per day by doing it all; from replying purchase inquiry, actively posting on her Instagram shop, to collect testimonials from satisfied customers and make them presentable to keep the content going. All of these skills are self-taught and fast because she simply grew restless when it does not show results quickly.
I am not totally eliminating the fact that my sister is lucky.
She hit a home run the first time she really tried and got into entrepreneurship when most of us are not so lucky. She did it at the right time with the right amount of passion.
As a Millennial, I admit I often take too long to think and end up not doing nothing. The time I spent thinking would be used by the eager Gen Zs to place an Instagram ad on their unbranded business for the sake of moving fast.
It is necessary to think things through and weighing in all the risks, but not so much that we end up not going anywhere, not making progress.
My sister was all about progress. She did not just borrow my parents’ money to get enough traction to go by; she went and gambled it all to get a tripled result as she will not settle for less.
I think that kind of mentality works in this tech-ruled world. She is now getting ready to put a down payment for a house in cash, while I am out here killing myself every month, chipping in my salary for an overpriced house installment my partner and I have agreed on taking, so our kids will have a roof on their own.
Her method of research for scaling is simple: She goes where the buzz is centred. She endorsed the people with most views on the videos they posted, and now that she can afford it, she invested in designers to amp up her Grammin’ game, building credibility as trusted online shop.
If we are talking about startups, it is the same thing. Your startup needs to find the market (where the buzz is), and you need to spend to scale and improve (my sister hiring a designer and putting money for endorsement, the only marketing channel she can think of).
My sister has no fancy business training whatsoever other than observing other successful Instagram shops and copy their moves. My sister was touch-and-go case in her school years, and now she is the one paying for all of our get-togethers and my kid’s dream outfit.
She now says, “Just pray for me that this will stay sustainable,” each time I offer to pay. She has no long term plan aside from keeping the hustle, as hard work never betrays.
She’s still doing better than the rest of us overthinking Millennials.