by jasmine lim (smu)
I remember when at the age of 7 or 8, my mum asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I replied, “I want to be rich so I can buy all the Barbie dolls and the Barbie doll house that daddy didn’t want to buy for me”. My mum rolled her eyes.
Today, when people asked me what do you want to do? My humble reply to them is, “Er.. Probably work in some marketing/ advertising firm”. HEY NO… THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT TO DO. I hear an inner voice crying out loud. “I want to be able to do whatever I want and work wherever and whenever I want to, travel around the world, indulge in materialistic pursuits, the list goes on. The bottom line is I want to be rich and earn big bucks (okay, definitely not to buy Barbie dolls now though).
Being a young and shrewd entrepreneur at the age of 12, I made friendship bands, small ribbon rose bouquet and crystal beads ‘staples’ bracelets, and I sold them off to my friends. I sold the crystal beads ‘staple’ bracelets at 2 bucks (U.P. $3) to a guy friend. I told him, “If you buy this and give it to XXX, I am quite sure she will like it and be your girlfriend. I can help you with that” I even told him that he can come back to me if the bracelet spoils; I would fix it back for him for free. Since the age of 12, I knew how promotional marketing works, what good customer service is and how to expand my business. Soon, I conducted classes to teach my fellow friends to make these handi-crafts and sell them to other friends (I didn’t charge them though, OOPS!) I ‘employed’ my sister to be my salesperson, she would bring them to school to sell them, and of course there will be remuneration for her; 60 – 40, haha and yes 60 for myself. Luckily for me, I was never caught by the teachers. Today that I look back and think of the various ‘business ventures’ I had, I feel apologetic to all those who were ‘hurt’ during my young entrepreneurship experience, however, sadly to say goods sold are not refundable.
Things became different when I grew up. People resist change and fear rejection. And I am guilty of these too. However there’s one thing that I learnt, believed and held on to dearly is ‘the law of attraction’: your feelings and thoughts are the creators of your life. It is important for us to focus on what we really want and not, what you do not want. Our life is the manifestation of our thoughts. Just the other day, my friend asked why is it that I happen to have friends who are setting up their own business. I thought to myself, could it be that? Having positive thoughts allow us to attract positive people and positive events.
My ex-boyfriend together with a couple of his friends set up and registered an event company. At that time, I was experiencing the same things as what Hong Zhuang mentioned during class. From weekend movies, dining at restaurants to no movies at all and dining at home. We experienced the cynicism others had of us and of the business, we were afraid of failing and disappointing those who supported us. To the extent that, I was unwilling to meet up with my friends because I did not want them to ask me how the business is getting on because everything seems to be at our dismal. The only thing at that time to keep us going was, to prove those who don’t believe in us wrong.
I helped him with the simplest stuff starting from thinking of the company’s name, designing the logo for the company, name cards, drafting and sending out of emails, generating ideas, vetting and preparing for business plan presentation for funding. Along the way, we had some good and bad experiences, and I couldn’t agree more with Professor Pamela Lim on how sometimes it is easier for female and young and entrepreneurs because people are willing to help us more. However, some would take advantage of our inexperience and ‘ripped’ us off. To help my boyfriend (at that time) was one of the main reasons for me to take this course, Technological Entrepreneurship: Opportunity and Identification. I was eager to learn the know-how and tangible aspects of setting up a business. All the things that we were required to do for the module seem so familiar to me and I wished I had taken this module earlier so we would have steer away from the avoidable and unwanted hassle. We broke up eventually and the business however keeps the friendship strong. It’s strange how some would rather say that business breaks relationship but in my case, the business is one which ‘maintains’ our relationship. Not before long, I was roped into another company that a friend had set up and with our expertise in different areas; I hope to grow the business further.
We have now come to the end of the term, accomplished the business plan and learnt the tangible aspects of a business (startup, funding, strategies and exiting). Others may probably think that they have just completed a compulsory TE module in SMU. For me, to be honest, I think this is just the beginning, and with the know-how, I am more confident of my entrepreneurship journey now. It’s never too late or too early for anyone to start a business. But if you start early, you have got lesser to risk (e.g. little/ no family financial burden) and more chances to fail and learn (you will learn through experiences). Never worry about having nothing, no money or no idea to begin with. I would say start with nothing and out of no way, a way will be made.