On June 20, 2011, I was invited to be the Panel at Sembang Sembang, a casual gathering for entrepreneurs, brought by US EMBASSY and organized by Warisan Global Sdn. Bhd.
This was my sharing on my reflections as a woman entrepreneur:
If I were to start all over again to get to where I am today, I would still do the same with a lot of fine-tuning that would result in a shorter path. The reason is only one – if I have not gone through the joys and tears, it would not have moulded and shape me to the person that I am today. Everything that I have experienced – through the trials and tribulations – are my lessons in life, to make me a better person and as a more stable and steady entrepreneur.
Going back memory lane, as a young lady, the word “entrepreneur” never crossed my mind. I only wanted to find a good husband, get married and live happily ever after (doesn’t this sound familiar to you?). I found one. After we got married, we went to Melaka because my husband had a housing project there. When I was in the family way, I stopped work to be a good mother. SIX months was all I lasted. Domestic life was not, and still is not my cup of tea. And no big company wanted to engage a married woman – too many strings attached. To get me off his back, my husband proposed that I start my own business with his financial support. “Anything that you want”, he said. At that point of time, I had an all-consuming passion to lose weight and be really tweed slim – like Twiggy (a famous London model who was skinny). I was only 104 lbs or 47 kg then and still felt fat. So it was only natural that I chose to open a slimming centre. I had no experience in the beauty industry. I only had four years in a corporate sector. But the passion was so great, to own a slimming centre, so that I can be slim led me to eventually have a franchise with SLENDERLIN. Within one month, we recovered half of our capital of RM100K and by the 3rd month, all our capital was back.
After 3 years, the franchisor sold the business to me and I own 100% of the company. During these 3 years, I went to Melbourne, London and Paris to equip myself with knowledge on slimming, beauty, fitness, modeling and grooming. The reason: I was very young then at 24 years old and often bullied by professionals engaged by our company as they did not respect me because they felt I knew nothing about the business. Looking back, I am very thankful to two women in particular, our first manager and first beauty therapist in our center, who made life very difficult for me, running me down infront of my clients and staff. Because of them, I have grown to be very strong on my technical knowledge, leadership skills and to be an assertive entrepreneur. I learned the art of “tai-chi” with my staff.
After 16 years in the trade of slimming, fitness, beauty & modeling, and with my children settled in their higher educational pursuit, I took the next challenge – starting a centre in the then prestigious Suria KLCC.
In Suria KLCC, my centre was called SKIN ESTHICS. The visibility was great for business. But the rental and overhead were not. I thought history would repeat itself and I would reap the rewards in three months. How naïve I was! It took us 3 years to manage the overheads only. There was no profit. Something had to be done. My partner and I decided to do “franchising”. Afterall, we had been 20 years in business and the way to go is franchising. With this thought, and adamant to bring back the fruits, we went ahead to get the services of an international franchise consultant, against our better judgment. The signs were all there but we didn’t heed the signals. We went ahead with our franchise plans. The franchise consultants bled us with their exhorbitant fees before we could even take off. We were so “gang-ho” that we did not read the fine lines of the contract. That exercise caused us an arm and a leg. We decided to cut our losses and stop all plans of franchise as we almost had a legal embattlement with our franchise consultants.
By that time, our corporate image training business had tripled and I had to let go of some business because I couldn’t do all the trainings. We sold our KLCC business at a loss, place the care of our clients with another center and focus all our energy on building new image consultants to assist us in our trainings, as the demand for our trainings grew every year.
2 years later, we sold off our Melaka business at a good price. What we did was ensure that the business was doing well to give it more value.
From the time I went into corporate image training and consulting in the year 2000, our company has trained more than 130 companies and 40,000 people. I personally have trained 104 companies todate and 30,000 people, locally and internationally.
A lot of my clients and friends asked me “Don’t you get tired?” The answer is “NO”. In my days of running beauty centres, sometimes I felt a little burned out when I had challenges with HR problems.
Since I started corporate image training and consulting, I don’t feel like I am working. I am doing something good for the world. When I meet a participant or a client who has taken my image tips to enhance his appearance, project poise and confidence, or have that extra suaveness when dealing with people, it gives me a sense of fulfillment that money cannot buy. My clients told me that they are inspired by me. In actual fact, I am much more inspired by the transformation that I see in them or in their life because of what they have applied after coming for my program. What gives me more satisfaction and fulfillment than this in life? I am here to share, to love and to beautify. Every morning I wake up early, looking forward to who and how many I can touch that day, and staying late at night to prepare the next day’s program or answer to those who need me.
Isn’t that beautiful – to have the ability and opportunity to touch and transform peoples’ lives?
From what I see, there will be challenges if you do business only using your head. We must use our head and connect with our hearts.
I wish to go auto-pilot 5 years from now – wherein I have groomed a steady fleet of highly motivated and responsible image consultants who can go on to touch and transform more lives, while I continue to guide them to empower, educate and equip people with the right tools in their own image development and branding – and to be their authentic self.
My advice to all who wish to be entrepreneurs today, is to find out if the business you are in, is truly your passion – whether what you want is your heart intention or ego intention. To give first (with your heart) and then you will receive. Trust and Allow.