It’s almost become a running joke now in Singapore that some of the best business networking events are women only. In fact, the results from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study Women’s report 2012 showed that in Singapore, there are more women starting businesses than men, with Thailand being the only other country showing this trend.
As a father of two daughters, I am excited to see a shift towards more opportunities for women. However, as a citizen of the world, I can’t believe we are still having this conversation in 2016. Yet we are, and in the course of the work I do, I get to meet some very inspirational women entrepreneurs, so I decided to get their thoughts on entrepreneurship.
Gina Romero, Managing Director of Singapore-based women only network group the Athena Network Group, shared with me how she has managed to build a business and brand she loves:
I think entrepreneurship is a fantastic way to level the playing field. I’m a school dropout without any corporate experience, so entrepreneurship has probably given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I had taken a different route. Entrepreneurship is really all about relationship building, resourcefulness, and tenacity…
Being an entrepreneur has also given me the flexibility to have three children while running my various businesses, and travel with my husband without having to give up work. For women in particular, the flexibility of entrepreneurship means we can design a life that works for us, aligned with our own priorities whatever they might be.
Gina adds some important advice for anyone who wants to set up his or her own business.
Don’t quit the day job just yet – get out there and talk to anyone and everyone who will listen to your idea and get as much feedback and advice as you can. Then dip your toe in the water and test the market – play with your idea. Have fun with it. It’s so important not to get ‘analysis-paralysis’ and spend months and years thinking and planning without getting anything done. Just be prepared to make mistakes and learn along the way – that’s a big part of entrepreneurship.
Another great entrepreneur is Kareen Lai. Kareen founded her own business in Singapore, ‘Mums In Sync’, targeting mothers and mothers-to-be to help them regain their fitness and strength. Whilst she was keen to run her own business to get more flexibility in her life after the birth of her twins, Kareen has some valuable advice to share on the perceived flexibility of running your own business.
Many people yearn to run their own business because they think they can have the flexibility to schedule work around their kids or family. But without a unique business idea that can be supported by a sustainable business model, leaving a full-time job would be akin to being reckless, involving high opportunity costs.
Many women want to start their own business after they become mums, thinking that they can better balance family, work, and passion with the flexible working hours. I would like to caution these women that this is a misconception because to build a really successful business, you still need to put in the same hard work like any other business person. Especially in the first few years, it can be tough and lonely but if you’re brave and surround yourself with good mentors and a great business network, you will thrive.
For those who have no family commitments or duties, go forth! Follow your heart because it will bring you further than you can ever imagine.
In both cases, great advice from successful entrepreneurs. Who happen to be women. Hopefully by the time my daughters are playing this game they will be recognized as just entrepreneurs and not defined by their gender. On the plus side, they have some great role models to look up to!
This article originally appeared at: http://sbr.com.sg/