Starting a business is always intimidating, more so in starting a food delivery services, something which the older generation of businessmen considered not profitable due to its very limited avenue of clientele, very mundane, labour intensive and being localized in a ‘small’ city such as Alor Setar where distance is not a problem.
But this is not so for budding entrepreneur, Jeffrey Lai, who owns a successful food order business called Order Delivery. He is riding on the new generation of people with their ‘new culture’ of being in situ and wanting to taste the best the place could offer mentality. A culture deeply associated with the advancement of computer and smartphone technologies where everything is within reach by the press of a few keys on a keyboard in the comfort of their air-conditioned homes and offices. A culture of virtual realities.
Order Delivery, a local home-based company delivers almost everything from food to valuable items such as cash. In Alor Setar, Order Delivery takes the niche which big companies such as Grab and Food Panda do in big cities like Kuala Lumpur.
“We aren’t exactly like Grab Express, as I sometimes personally deliver the items especially when it comes to valuables. We do everything from food delivery, office runner, and courier service. It’s all combined. But the difference is that I build a personal relationship with the customers which in turn, causes them to trust me to help them deliver very valuable items,” Jeff explained.
He recalled incidents where customers trusted him with big amounts of money. He went on to relate one such incident:
“I was given 5k in cash to bank in. The person only knew me through WeChat contact. What surprised me was he didn’t even jot down my I.C number, nor ask for the place I operate. When we met, he just passed me the money and what’s more amazing was I told him I would do it only in the afternoon and he agreed! He must have patiently waited until it was done. The reason I believed why he trusted me so much, was that he saw the integrity in me. I think that this is a very important value that I had picked up growing up in a church. And that is also the thing that prompted others to stop and ask me about my faith at times,” Jeff explained.
Jeff added that as his business boomed, he was entrusted by clients to bank in a lot of cheques in big and small amounts. But he explained that doing business wasn’t always smooth sailing for him. In fact, this was his third business venture.
“In 2009, I started my career in business. It was an event organizing company. Initially, things went very smooth. It was good. My income was literally in five figures. During the apex of my successful period, I had a lot of time and being a practicing Christian I was convicted to dedicate my time and talent in serving the Lord. I am musically inclined and what’s best to serve in the music ministry so I decided to go to a Hill Song conference in Australia to be inspired. Yes, I was so inspired and charged up at the conference. I began to dream of the many things that I could do for the Lord with my money and time. But the going wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The moment I was determined to surrender to God, the testing came,” Jeff explained.
STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN.
Jeff elaborated on his ‘testing’ which is still ongoing. A series of unfortunate events happened the moment he returned to Malaysia from the conference.
“I found out that my dad’s oxyacetylene gas supplying company was in financial difficulty. I had no choice but to put aside my event organizing company and went in to help my parents’ business. But unfortunately, it did not recover and in the end, the company sank,” Jeff said.
In order to repay the debts my parents’ company had acquired, Jeff explained that they had to refinance their house. “Even after doing so, we still had a huge sum to repay. It affected me badly, up to the point I couldn’t service my car loan and the bank had to call in the re-possessor to have to get it pulled in. It was an embarrassing experience for me. Thankfully, there were church friends and relatives who stayed by us and helped a bit,” Jeff added.
THE SECOND TIME AROUND.
“After three years of financial wilderness, things started to stabilize and I tried my hands on a cafe business with a few partners. We started small. Things went very well until the country’s economy began to stagnate and the cafe’s business started going downhill. When it reached rock bottom the shareholders’ so-called trusted partners decided to call it a day. So this was my second failed business venture,” Jeff explained.
While many would have given up on doing business altogether, Jeff stayed strong. He explained that one of the major reasons which made him keep pushing on is God.
“Every time I have this problem, I would be very down. But I would reassure myself, that the Lord had put me on this road, He will bring me back. I always reminded myself not to give up on God especially in hard times. Such is the time I always talk to the Lord making this prayer, ‘Lord I am not sure why you put me through this but I am sure you will pull me through’,” Jeff explained.
To find out what happens next, read on in Part 2 of An Order Of Integrity (Click Here – Part 2)
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