As the year comes to a close, I’m sharing the 18 things I’ve Learnt in 2018. This is a little longer than our usual episodes, so I’ve made it ad-free for your listening pleasure.
This is Fempreneur Secrets where Business Babes Reveal Secrets. Since the year is coming to a close, I’m rounding off with 18 Things I’ve Learnt in 2018.
1. Nothing ever comes easy
Business people almost never talk about this. The success stories we’ve read, watched and heard are almost always liken to a fairy tale. Sometimes, even the wrecks to riches stories have been perfected to seem, well, perfect. The truth is that nothing ever comes easy in the world of entrepreneurship. It’s 110% hard work.
Even when you have a billion dollars, it is still a lot of hard work to see a return on that money. Heck, even hiring someone is hard work. Nothing ever comes easy, but it’s how confident you are in yourself and your business that matters.
2. There is always a choice
Running a business is a choice I’ve made since I left university in 2011. I knew it won’t be easy, but I stuck my guns on this choice. I knew that working hard now would mean a better future for me tomorrow. This year, even more than ever, I made the bold decision to purchase my first home ?. This would never have been possible if I did not stick to my guns about being an entrepreneur.
3. It’s okay to live moderately
The success stories you’ve read, watched and heard mostly represent success as material wealth: a billion-dollar property, a few expensive Maserati and the freedom to fly on your own jet. While all those is nice to have, it’s completely fine to live moderately as well. Instead of choosing a 5-room flat, I chose a 3-room instead because that is all I need right now. That savings I made between the 2 can be contributed to other forms of investment. It also means that instead of eating out every single day, I took pleasure in utilizing the kitchen I now own to prepare home-cooked meals for me and my family.
4. Pick the right clients
There are two things you’d do when you’re growing your business:
- you’ll accept any clients that walk through the door;
- or you’ll pick the right clients you’ll work with.
When I made the decision in January to only work with clients that valued our worth and artistic style, we started to get better clients. There was a drop in number of clients compared to last year, but this year was zen. We enjoyed working with them, and we learnt so much about the industries they’re in.
I learnt the hard way that when clients don’t value your worth, they’ll squeeze you dry and you will end up feeling extremely burnt out. What you’d want is to feel is being in control. You chose to run this business, so it’s completely fine to choose who you’d want to serve as well.
5. When things don’t go according to plan, strive on any way
I think 2018 was probably the year when a lot of things didn’t go according to plan. I wanted to have 18 products launched every 18th of the month for the year 2018. Sounds nice right? I partnered with fempreneurs I know. But somehow, almost all of them didn’t materialize because of one thing or another. This is a classic case of it’s meant to happen, it will happen. If it’s not meant to be, it won’t be.
So what did I do then? I took all those partnerships out of my plan and made a note that we’ll try again when the time and space is better for us. Instead, I focused on developing Fempreneur Secrets. I redesigned the whole website, rethink my offers and launched Fempreneur Secrets Podcast on 1 Dec 2018.
Hey, you’re listening to one episode right now!
6. Mindset matters
In the beginning of 2018, I started it off with lots of “what ifs”. I don’t normally do that, but I was feeling anxious about the most important year to me. You see, my birthdate is 18 June. I’ve always loved the number 18. And since it’s 2018, I wanted the year to feel special to me too.
That anxiety was really, unnecessary. So, I chugged that aside and focused on thinking “this will work” at everything I did. One shift and I started getting a lot more opportunities. We’ve lined up Q1-Q2 of 2019 with interviews of amazing Fempreneurs. I kept going on. Fempreneur Secrets Podcast is my greatest achievement in 2018, and I’m so honoured to have you listening and celebrating my joy with me.
7. Always make time for self-care
This year, I went to the doctors at least 5 times. That’s like 2.5x more (actually the correct term should be double) than I did last year. The only reason was I didn’t spend time taking care of myself like I should. I was so focused on getting things up and running for my future, that I forgot to care about myself in the present. Always make time to take care of yourself. Because if there’s no you, there’s no future in the business you’re trying to push forth.
8. Make time for your loved ones
Since we’re at the topic of time, I learnt that I needed to make more time for my family. You never know that they need you until one day you learnt that you weren’t around for some of their critical milestones. I knew I had lost time when I saw how grown up my nephews and niece were. So, make time for your loved ones. You only have one life, and one of that special person(s) in your life. Make time for them.
9. Always be grateful
This is probably one of the biggest takeaway for 2018 for me. It’s normal and natural to want more than what you have now, but let’s not forget to be grateful for what we already have. I may not have the luxury to eat all my meals at a restaurant, but I do have the luxury of cooking healthy meals for me and my family. Being grateful opens your heart and soul for better things. It also helps you ease your heart into accepting what your current state of life is. When you wake up tomorrow, remember to be grateful that you’re able to wake up – because there’s people out there who can’t get out from bed when they wake up.
10. Always upgrade yourself
This year, I spent a lot of money on personal development. In Singapore, our government have contributed $500 to every citizen for skills-upgrading. It’s called Skillsfuture Credit. The system is there so that we constantly upgrade ourselves and our skills. When you upgrade your skills, you are paving way for yourself to have a better future. Future here doesn’t always equate to better careers, but to me, refers to better opportunities in life. Upgrading your skills would mean you see the world in another point of view, and you understand what it takes to be part of that world. Don’t be ashamed to take classes, courses and workshops to upgrade your skills. If you prefer to do that online, we have something coming up in Q1 of 2019 for you!
11. Give back, even with as little as a smile
Living in a cosmopolitan city, we’re often too busy to pause our lives. It is great if we could just take one second of our day, and smile at the uncle distributing flyers. If you want him to end his day earlier, take one flyer. Don’t ignore the busker singing near the train stations – smile and enjoy their song. You don’t even need to “viralize” their music by recording them sing. They just want you to appreciate what they do. Lastly, it’s as simple as giving a smile to your neighbor as you pass them at the walkway. Give back, even if it’s with as little as a smile.
12. Go for what you need
Being minimalist have always been something I’ve strived for. It’s not easy, considering how much equipment I have for my video production company. If you’re a Malay like me, you’ll understand the struggle of owning new pair of traditional garment called Baju Kurung, every single year. Now, where shall I put them then? So, for 2 years now, my husband and I have stopped buying new traditional clothes for Eid. We will just wear what we already have and make do. If anyone has anything to say, I’m sure it’s not “I thought you already wore this last year?” Trust me, no one remembers.
13. Don’t give up on your dreams
A few years ago, I went on a re-discovery trip with my friend. We spent the day by the beach talking about what we should do with our lives. I strived that I will get FempreneurSecrets.com up and running so I can begin to inspire many lives. It took me almost 2 years to setup Fempreneur Secrets, but I’m proud to keep the momentum going. My dream is to educate as many women interested in business and entrepreneurship as I could, making it possible for you to have a side business as a start. This helps you get things going in your life, even if it’s just as a backup, for when things don’t go your way in your current full-time jobs. Because of you, I’m holding strong to my dream. And I hope you hold strong to yours too.
14. Ask for help when help is need
Here’s the thing about our ego: we tend to not ask for help thinking we can do whatever it is, on our own. So, one day, I booked a Grab – for those of you who don’t know what that is, that’s Uber in Singapore that bought out Uber – but I input the wrong location. I was at a university’s campus, and I wasn’t sure if I got the correct pick-up point. So, I asked help from what seem to be a student. I asked “Hey, can I check what is the usual pick-up point you put into Grab?” Of course, the millennial would look at me like I’m an ancient dinosaur who doesn’t know how to use the app “Um, you can assign your location and select the closest?” Then, she walked off. Of course, that wasn’t a nice help. So, I went down to the security post and asked the same thing. His answer was the best yet “I don’t take Grab, I can’t help you.” Okay, moving on. I practically gave up. I called the Grab Driver and told him where I was. He told me to snap a picture of where I was. I sent that to him and he said “Oh dear, it’s at the other end of the campus. It’s okay, I’ll come right by.” I went in and I felt so guilty for wasting his time. And all he could say was “Everyone gets lost. It’s okay. I’m glad you’re taking a ride from me. Other drivers would have bailed on you.” And he was right. It’s okay to ask for help. So don’t be shy to ask for help.
15. People’s lives move at different speeds
This is probably as personal as I can get when it comes to sharing anything online. You see, that’s why I created Fempreneur Secrets. I wanted you to know that the struggle is indeed real, and you’re not the only one that is going through them. Being an entrepreneur isn’t always easy, but know that – wherever you are in your life, you’re meant to be there. So what if your friends are moving faster than you? Maybe faster to you, isn’t good enough for them. So what if people around you are having their 2nd or 3rd child, you have yet conceived your first? Maybe it’s just not the right time for you yet. People’s lives move at different speeds. Stop comparing and start living.
16. Put Your Phones Down
This year, I told myself that if I was on a public transport, I will only use my phone for 2 main reasons:
- Talk to my mum, or
- Learn something via audio
I try my best to keep my phones in my pockets and replace that need to hold a device with a book. At least, I am learning something instead of being overdependent on my phone. Why? I strained my thumb and my ring finger one day because I was holding my phone for too long. It strained so much that I was unable to sleep on my side. I’m a side sleeper so that was such a turn-off for me. Lesson: Put your phones down when you can, else your body will repel it for you.
17. Delay gratification
Previous years, I would spend my profits on vacations. I love to travel, but it isn’t always easy to leave work behind. So for the past 3 years, the vacations I took haven’t really been vacations for me and my husband. They have usually been related to work. This year, we delayed gratification because of one important reason: getting our house is far more important than anything. We got our own place and now we’re working our way to clear the mortgage as much and as fast as we can. Delay gratification, because some goals are stretched for a better tomorrow.
18. Goals can be delayed
Being an organized and goal-driven fempreneur, I know first-hand that when you’re unable to hit your goal, you feel really sour. But here’s the thing I learnt this year – my goals and their deadlines aren’t set in stone. The deadlines can be delayed if it’s not realistic enough for me to achieve them. Some things like aren’t in our control, so it’s best to let things flow naturally.
So ladies, those are 18 things I’ve learnt in 2018. I believe that 2019 will be a great year for you, and that you’ll be steps closer to achieving your dreams. We’ll be with you every week, guiding you towards starting, growing or scaling your own business. So now, comment below on what you think are your top 3 lessons for 2018. I’d love to know what they are, and what’s your number one goal for 2019. I’ll see you in our next episode – this is Fempreneur Secrets, where business babes reveal secrets.