5 Critical Startup Lessons

What I learned about moving to a foreign country and founding a bikini startup.


Ever wanted to move across the world and start your life all over? I’ve done this several times. I went from living and working in one tropical paradise to another: from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Sao Paulo, Brazil… By the time I got back to Malaysia, I’d had enough of the slew of corporate careers I’d experienced. I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

5 Critical Startup Lessons

It seems clear to me that the more diverse your experience and the less straightforward your path, the greater the exposure and insight that you will pick up along the way. Just going through the experience of that bungee jump you foolishly agreed to in New Zealand, or that moon party in Thailand you can barely remember, can somehow lead to something productive that gives back to the world. Rather than connect dots A-to-B, the more dots you gain, and the more that leave the boundaries of the page, the less linear and predictable –and therefore more special and intricate– the final drawing will be. And, who knows, those extra dots may even help you earn a nice living in the process.

As soon as I landed in Brazil, I was in love — and not just with the beautiful Brazilian men. I took to the Brazilian beach culture as if I was born to just lie on the sand and look fabulous in bikinis. Brazilian-style bikinis are not only the most beautiful bikinis that I’ve ever laid my eyes on, but they’re made to attract attention. I remember going home for Christmas with a bag full of Brazilian bikinis for friends, and they all loved them. But being a bikini Santa was not enough. I had a masterplan to become a bikini tycoon!

5 Critical Startup Lessons

So far, it made sense and was a pretty straightforward way of matching the dots. However, there was one obstacle that I would have to overcome. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country, with the majority of the population being practising Muslims. So starting a bikini business, and a Brazilian bikini business no less, would likely ruffle some feathers. That’s why I called my company Fit Rebel.

Here are the five most important lessons I’ve learned about how to start a successful company:

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Avatar of Nadia Hasbi

Ex-corporate suit turned fitness entrepreneur. As a person who leads an active lifestyle, Nadia enjoys yoga, weightlifting and running. Decked in active wear almost all the time, she understands the pains and joy when it comes to shopping for movable and breathable clothing and vows to offer exquisite and affordable apparel through her company,

Reader Discussion: 55 Comments

  1. Avatar of Ashley Thompson

    Adapt! Overcome! Improvise! These would take any company startup to a stable business in no time. Just follow these tips.

  2. Avatar of Stefanie Tyson

    I’ve always wanted to be a fashion entrepreneur. It’s very intimidating to think of leaving my job and investing so much money into something that could fail. Thanks for giving me hope!

  3. Avatar of Anna Kaplan

    Anna Kaplan

    I needed a loan to startup a small business in my town that had a specific need, but I had not yet gotten a high enough credit score to qualify with my bank. However, thanks to this website, I did a little research and found a local entrepreneur who regularly sponsors small businesses he thinks have a shot. Now, thanks to my angel investor, I am up and running.

  4. Avatar of Celine Carter

    Celine Carter

    It takes a special person to try to make a start up business work. They are creative and they have ideas, but like the article talks about, the one thing they lack is financing. Sometimes, speaking from experience, it can be a challenge to figure out where to turn to to get the money you need to take your ideas and make them work. It’s nice to have an article like this where a lot of ideas are compiled on one page. Even if some of the ideas are common sense ones, just being reminded of them from time to time is a good thing.

  5. Avatar of Teresa Tanner

    Teresa Tanner

    Very nice, well-rounded list. Too many people think that you need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a business off the ground. That may be true in some industries, but some types of small businesses can make do with the basic credit card. Once the income starts coming in, it’s not too hard to expand.

  6. Avatar of Gwen Keaton

    Gwen Keaton

    The thrill of running a startup is offset by the challenge of finding funding. The well-developed array of nontraditional lenders and types of funding for a startup along with practical advice make this a must read for entrepreneurs.

  7. Avatar of Janet Roper

    Janet Roper

    This is an excellent resource for those who are just starting to think about funding a startup. Of course, we’d all love to have angel investors but your information is useful in the event that we don’t.

  8. Avatar of Monica Collins

    Monica Collins

    Great tips! All I can say is the absolute most important thing you can do before you start any business is to have a business plan with at least a 1, 5 and 10 year goal.

    • Avatar of KYLE


      ….and find a great location. A really good location dictates how long or how quickly it takes you to attain those goals.

  9. Avatar of Gerry Carlton

    Gerry Carlton

    The art of getting people talking about your brand can be the make or break for any start up. Many remain low lieing for many year because not enough time is invested in getting this right abd yes correctly said it’s not confined to the Internet…. alone… great piece

  10. Avatar of Brenda Nelson

    Brenda Nelson

    I have always advocated for the importance of a unique ‘Idea’. Innovation happens only one time and cannot be repeated. This is the reason why people remember the one who scores first position and not the one who is second or other. Strive for greatness and just use these tips. I found the insightful and complete. Thanks for sharing wisdom ?

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