WHY START A BUSINESS “As a mother, starting my own business was a no-brainer because I wanted greater autonomy over my time and to be able to dictate what I did. I started Mums @ Work, a service-based social enterprise that champions flexible work options for women, in 2010. No one seemed to be pushing this for mums, and it was a problem I wanted to solve.
“Asia’s Beauty Secrets is an online store I established in 2014, which sells traditional Japanese beauty products. It grew out of a passion for beauty products and a concern for what I was putting on
THERE FOR MY KIDS “Being my own boss has been great for my family. Despite the time crunch, I am still physically there for my children because I work from home. Being in charge of my schedule also means that I’m able to volunteer at my kids’ schools during the day. When my kids see me work, they pick up new skills, too – they observe how I manage my time and deal with people over the phone, for example. Sometimes, they even accompany me to work events and help me pack beauty products for delivery.
I wouldn’t be able to teach them these skills if I worked in an office.”
STAYING AHEAD “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but other people pretty much copied Mums @ Work, which pushed me to make my business stand out more. As an entrepreneur, you cannot start a business and expect it to sell itself; you have to think ahead and find ways to outdo the competition.”
HOW TO STAND OUT “Marketing was a challenge I faced, particularly for Asia’s Beauty Secrets. It’s important to see what you need to do to get your name out and drive sales. Part of this is understanding your customers, and also knowing where and how you advertise to them. I learnt quickly that reaching out to the right customer base is half the battle won.”
WORK DOESN’T STOP “As an entrepreneur, you’re going to be working around the clock. This is where drawing clear boundaries comes in. For instance, I still check my work e-mails when I go on holiday, but not 24/7. And time with my family is just that.”
TIPS FOR MUMPRENEURS “Singapore is a great place to start a business. The set-up is fast, seamless and transparent. There are also a number of grants available, such as Isprint, which is good if you want to automate any manual processes for your office, and the Internationalisation Capability Development Programme, which can help you develop capabilities such as branding, design, manpower, intellectual property, franchising, marketing, and so on, for overseas expansion.
“There’s also the ACE Startups Grant, which provides funding support to entrepreneurial Singaporeans who want to take their first step in starting up differentiated businesses. All these grants are definitely worth exploring.”