5 Lessons Learnt as an Entrepreneur
Updated: May 28, 2020
Thank you for dropping by! Here marks the first post which I am thrilled to share! Many women has come to me, asking great insights on how I started up my online business that clocks 20k sales a day! Besides this online business that I am juggling with my partner, I am also a wife, mother, trainer, music teacher etc. Yes many things under my belt but I am particularly attracted to equipping women to be their own boss.
If you have been wanting to be your own boss but you're feeling unequipped to do it, this is the post for you!
I started my online business when I was 23. I didn't have any knowledge about business, neither I had a business degree or diploma. I have a diploma in music and audio technology and a degree in Communication Studies. Yes absolutely non-business related but I still wanted to be my own boss, a little dream of mine since young. I had a few small businesses when I was in school like Mobile Phone Covers glamming up and customised greeting cards which all did not workout obviously (but I am glad to announce it anyway!).
Lesson 1 - Don't wait for the right moment to start! Who says it's a wrong moment anyway?
When I started an online shoe business with my partner, I am absolutely clueless to what is even a purchase order! But I know I had to learn. "Don't know" wasn't in my dictionary and no one knows everything when they are born, people just had to learn! With this mindset, I was receptive to learning and finding every opportunity to learn new skills about starting a business. Google has been my best friend, I have read up to 50 articles of how to start a business and if I should start a business and anything business or entrepreneurship related.
Thank God opportunity came when my partner has pondered over this franchising option of Seira Elves and without much hesitation we embarked on this rollercoaster ride, not knowing what to expect. There is one thing we know for sure and that is if we work hard and work smart, our efforts will bring us somewhere eventually. Who would have guessed that our brand would have a 2-hour queue line at our event!
So here's the thing, don't feel that you're unequipped to start your own business or perhaps you're just waiting for the time when you're 'ready' but honestly, you will never be ever ready to start a business. It's learning journey, you do your best preparation and handle whatever that comes your way eventually. It's the same as being a mother, will I ever consider myself to be all ready to be a mother? Absolutely not but I am learning every single day on how to be a better mom than yesterday.
So as a business owner, you need to decide if you're dealing with physical products or service as a product. Was having a conversation with a friend previously about the pros and cons of doing physical products and service as a product:
Product Based Business
Physical space needed to store goods
High Startup Cost
Takes time to go global
Service Based Business
Less or no inventory
No physical space needed
Moderate or Low Risk
Low Startup Cost
Potential to go globally at a faster rate
Of course the list goes on and I believe there are tons of articles out there to share with you the difference of the 2 however the above are some of the consideration points if you want to start a business.
Lesson 2: (if you can) Start a business while having another stream of income coming in
For the first few years of operation, we were managing it while we were having our own full-time job. Since we have our financial commitments on our end, we decided to start this business on a part time basis (but the demands of the business doesn't allow us to do contribute a 'part-time' effort). We were juggling between our own desk jobs and this sideline and still trying to maintain a work-life balance which is near impossible. To save on labour cost, we did everything ourselves from packing to fulfilling of orders to emails response to meet up to marketing on social media platforms to EVERYTHING!
For super high risk takers and you feel like cutting your source of income so that you will do anything to make your business a success, I still wish you all the best but that's not a route that I'll take.
Lesson 3: Start doing everything on your own
Being a boss wasn't as glamorous as we think it is at the beginning. We don't wear pretty clothes and drive nice cars around. We are with our t-shirts and shorts and all sweaty and dirty making the business work. This lasted for a couple of years before we had the tiny little budget to hire workers. Definitely when we started our business, our families were beyond excited to lend a free helping hand in any way they can so do tap on it but do repay them handsomely when you have some fruits from the business!
From converting my room to a warehouse to getting a unit at a warehouse to shifting to an office eventually is a process. Be willing to sacrifice for what you want. There are times where I was literally crying while packing the orders as I was tired or I should say overwhelmed with tiredness. When my friends are partying, I am working on my business. When people are sleeping, I am awake at 530am to work on my business. When others go dating at the cinema, my husband and I dated at the warehouse. When people's hands are filled with shopping bags, ours were filled with cartons of shoes and dirt. When people are counting down for Christmas, we are consolidating the orders and generating packing list to fulfil to our customers. When people are casually opening up their social media after work, we are crafting the caption with the perfect picture to post it up so that it appears on your newsfeed when you view it.
Lesson 4: Your sacrifices made now will be paid off eventually
Are you willing to set aside time to reach your goal and fulfil your dreams? It's tough at the beginning but it is definitely worth it in the long run.
It is challenging to wear different caps now that I am a wife and mother, trying to grow Seira Elves and at the same time establish myself as a trainer and coach but every sacrifices that I make now, I know it'll be all worth it when I see the fruits of my work.
Having a schedule and know when I should dedicate my time for my individual roles plays an important part. For example when my son comes back from school at 6pm, I know that 6pm to 10pm is where I am a mother and I dedicate my time to my family alone. No work, no business meeting nor answering of calls or text during this time. I don't even go onto social media during this time because my entire focus in on my family.
Knowing that I do not have my nights to do other things, I learnt to dedicate my other task to other hours and get all done before I wear the cap of a wife and a mother. One of the adjustments that I need to make is hitting the gym at 7am so that I will not fall into the excuse of "no time to exercise".
Lesson 5: Knowing where to draw a line for family, work and play
I will be sharing more about my habits and schedule and how I make full use of my 24 hours in the other post but as a business owner, it's vital to know the different priorities you have throughout the day to ensure a balance in your life.
Wishing all women who has been wanting to be your own boss all the best, with focus and determination, you can definitely make a difference.