By Adam Gale Thursday, 26 November 2015

'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.

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.

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