'I was declared bankrupt and branded a liar' - Reuben Singh

YOU LIVE AND LEARN: The founder and CEO of alldayPA and Isher Capital on the mistakes he made.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 25 Jan 2016

As founder of 90s teen fashion store Miss Attitude, Singh was hailed as the 'British Bill Gates' while still in his early 20s, but his meteoric rise was followed by an equally precipitous fall. He lost control of his second business, alldayPA, to his parents (as well as losing his legendary yellow Bentley) and was successfully sued by his bank over an unpaid company loan he had guaranteed. Singh was declared bankrupt in 2007 with debts of over £11m. He's still with alldayPA.

I opened my first Miss Attitude store when I was 17. I used to work 20 hours a day. My father wanted to involve me in his family business, but I didn't want to be known as somebody else's son.

Sincerity and integrity have always been paramount. A banker once quizzed me for an hour on my faith while I tried to get him onto my business plan. He gave me a loan because I was a practising Sikh. He said if you're sincere to your faith, I trust you.

In 1999 I sold the shares in Miss Attitude for £1, but released a seven-figure sum in debt owed to me and my family. I also started alldayPA. We rode a phenomenal wave in the early 2000s, but unfortunately success breeds arrogance.

My lowest point came during the court case against my bank over a debt, when it refused to accept a settlement to get its money back. I lost the case, was declared bankrupt and branded a liar. Around the same time my mother died.

Everyone makes mistakes. You need humility to accept your own and grace to accept others'. I will never understand why the bank wouldn't take the settlement, but I've forgiven them.

My father stepped in when I hit hard times, and I ended up working for him after all. I'm very proud of that. When I started out I had all the adrenaline of youth - I was an accelerator. You need that, but you also need the brakes.

The business never suffered and now we employ hundreds more people. We have medical cover, flexible working and an academy for employees. Back then I was proudest of my material success, but now I'm proudest of my people.

If you sincerely admit your mistake and say what you'll do to rectify it, people will work with you. Britain is one of the best places for entrepreneurs because we're prepared to embrace people who've tried and failed.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Upcoming Events

Latest on MT

The Boeing 747 is heading for retirement

The Boeing 747 is heading for retirement

ARCHIVE: Joe Sutter, the so-called 'father of the 747' has just passed away. Here's a look at what he left behind.

Can shared leave help stop shocking rise in pregnancy discrimination at work?

Can shared leave help stop shocking rise in pregnancy discrimination at work?

So, pregnant women face more discrimination at work than they did a decade ago. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the much-hyped diversity agenda.

Brexit makes us a whole new investment prospect for foreigners

Brexit makes us a whole new investment prospect for foreigners

EDITOR'S BLOG: The FDI figures look good for now but the future is highly unclear despite the pound's slide

Brain gain: 5 things bosses can learn from neuroscience

Brain gain: 5 things bosses can learn from neuroscience

Neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart offers five ways to train your brain and get a competitive edge.

7 pieces of corporate jargon to avoid on your CV

7 pieces of corporate jargon to avoid on your CV

Management speak makes you sound smart - to other idiots. So action this results-oriented roadmap for plain speaking success going forward.

Is the EU picking on Apple with its €13bn fine?

Is the EU picking on Apple with its €13bn fine?

It may be unfair to single the iPhone maker out as a tax avoider, but mud sticks and fines sting.