Are you passionate about food and itching to start your own business in Singapore? One local F&B business owner is here to burst your bubble.
Heartbreak Melts cafe co-owner Goh Yong Wei kept it real with his followers by posting a TikTok video on Sunday (Jan 8), with the aim to “demotivate” those who are considering setting up their own food-related businesses.
“Don’t go and start a business, just stay in your job, collect your salary, work nine to five,” Yong Wei stated.
He went on to point out some very discouraging statistics taken from Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) website.
Yong Wei shared how 13,539 F&B businesses were formed from 2019 to 2022, but within the same period, 9,609 of them folded.
“That means 70 per cent of businesses already failed,” said Yong Wei.
Keeping it real
He added that out of the remaining thirty per cent of businesses that are still in operation could be “dormant”, meaning they’re registered but not operating, or struggling to break even.
“One out of the 10” could be a flourishing business, shared Yong Wei, before proclaiming it to be “quite rare”.
“I know you’re very passionate and very ambitious right now,” Yongwei continued, adding a kicker to his argument.
If this doesn’t dampen that fire in your belly, we don’t know what will.
“You know the dead bodies on Mount Everest, over 200 of them? They were also very passionate and very ambitious people,” stated Yong Wei matter-of-factly.
‘You can be unique, but you’re not useful’
Besides having a “70 per cent chance of failure”, Yong Wei had other reasons why one should forsake the idea of setting up a business.
“You’re going to go into debt, you’re going to wipe out your savings, you’re going to damage your health trying to stay in business,” he shared.
Foreseeing arguments that one can be unique to stand out in the market, he countered: “You can be unique, but you’re not useful”, emphasising that in this present moment, “whatever idea you can think of, somebody is already doing it”.
And if your dream is to call yourself a businessman by setting up shop, Yong Wei is quick to burst that bubble too, pointing out that many F&B owners are “working 14 hours in [the] shop”.
“You are not a businessman, you are self-employed, you are working for yourself.
“You are only a businessman if you know how to create jobs for people, pay them salaries, and then you pull yourself out of the picture”, according to Yong Wei.
Even if the business is well-known or marketed well won’t save it from closing down, shared Yong Wei, adding that his own cafe too, is at risk.
He drew from popular examples such as dessert store Cake Spade, which announced that it would be closing in February after 10 years of operation. Friends-themed cafe Central Perk Cafe too, will be closing in March, after opening to much fanfare in 2016.
Despite Singaporean’s love affair with bubble tea, Yong Wei added that Taiwanese bubble tea chain Xing Fu Tang will soon close its last store at Northpoint.
“So unless you won the lottery, you strike Toto, strike 4D, or you have very rich parents, or you have a lot of money to throw, deep pockets, don’t go and open a business,” Yong Wei advised.
“Just stay in your job, that’s the safest option out there,” he reiterated, noting that while the average salaryman would “unlikely be rich”, “the benefit of having a job is you will not be poor”.
“Find a job that you are good at and you are comfortable at and it pays well enough, just stay in it,” he concludes.
While his latest piece of content is said to be out of the ordinary for the usually-encouraging cafe boss, it isn’t a fresh take on Singapore’s F&B scene.
In a TikTok video published last October, user Ian Tang notes the same “scary” restaurant statistics on ACRA from January to September 2022, where 2,599 new restaurants opened but 1,994 closed.
“For every eight new restaurants formed… six established restaurants shut down at the same time,” explains Tang, ending with a note to “please support our local F&Bs”.
Yong Wei’s clip has so far drawn more than 300,000 eyeballs and over 950 comments, with many agreeing with his views. “Relatable,” local influencer Titus Low wrote.
“As a local business, can confirm these are FACTS,” noted another.
Brutal honesty was also on display, with one expressing surprise at how Yong Wei’s cafe is still surviving.
Yong Wei himself had put out a video last October to rubbish claims that he’s “a big boss now” and living a “good life”, revealing that he still works as a private-hire driver at night to supplement his income.
Several commenters on his latest clip, however, shared that his data might be skewed, as it included two years of Covid-19 restrictions.
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