I started my aesthetics clinic at the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020. It was something which nobody would have predicted and one which all of us are ill prepared for. We dipped our toes into the business world, only to discover that we are at the wrong end of the pool and at the wrong timing. Within a few days of our opening, our country went into lockdown (also known as the “circuit breaker”). Many non-essential services, including us, have to be shut down for two months.
17 months on, we went through another 2 more restricted phases (also known as Phase 2, Heightened Alert). Until now, retail business has been unstable as the footfall in malls fluctuate greatly. We count ourselves lucky that none of us have been infected and we have received our two doses of vaccine quite early on.
I have learnt important lessons during this period, and take the opportunity to share with you here.
1. Sunny days are Godsend but you will also have to live with the rain
Like everyone else, we have enjoyed a good number of prosperous years before the pandemic. Singapore was in a good economic position and we have grown up in the better of times. There was slight drizzle along the way, but never too big a storm. Covid changed everything rapidly. When it first hit us, many business owners worry about the impact it has on our economy, how long it would take for us to recover and how it would affect our daily lives. We assume the rain wouldn’t last long and it will blow over quickly in a matter of months. But one and a half years on, many of us are now weary of the wait. This will be the new norm we have to adapt and live with.
2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
This applies to most things in life. It’s always better to diversify your businesses and investments than to focus on only one aspect. Some would argue that you may end up being a Jack of all trades but Master of none. That would be a possibility. But there’s no deny that before you become the Master, you need to be Jack to find out which trade you are most capable of. Try your hands at many things but remain focus on the task that you are most good at. It never hurts to have a little extra to fall back on.
3. Spend less and save more
I used to spend a lot when I was an employee. There is a false sense of security that you will be protected with a continual source of income. Now, times are uncertain. As a business owner, I am now more wary of unnecessary spending. It is always much better to have extra cash to insure yourself against the rainy days. I also have come to realize that most of the luxury goods that I have bought have limited resale value. Unless you own a very much coveted piece, you won’t be able to sell off your used item for a higher price than you originally paid for. So save while you can.
4. Learn to accept that you cannot do it all alone
That is what a team is for. Gather people who have the right skills to help you along the way. I started out doing most things myself – from renovation, purchase of inventory, designing my own website, marketing and operational work. I realize I can’t manage it alone if I were to grow my business. I have to trust others to help me so that I can free up time to attend to tasks which matter more. If you are single-handedly tending to every aspect, you won’t be able to cope alone. It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes community to run a business.
5. You will meet friends and foes along the way
We make connections with people throughout our lives. Some connections grow stronger with time, and there are others which just doesn’t thrive. Running your business gives you an opportunity to know who your friends really are. They are the ones who will come to support you, recommend you to their friends and going that extra mile to help you with your problems. On the other spectrum, there will be people who see you as a nuisance and stop responding to you. It is indeed an eye-opening experience. Nonetheless, it is also a good time to weed out negative connections and make more positive ones.
6. Bad decisions are part and parcel of growing wiser
We all make bad decisions from time to time. One is always wiser on retrospection. But that shouldn’t stop us from learning from these bad decisions. The mistakes made by ourselves and others are part of life’s learning process. It takes mental grit and maturity to laugh at one’s mistakes, pick up the pieces and move on in life.
7. Leave bad emotions from work at work.
A bad day at work tends to affect our mental health so much that it travels back home with us. If it is at all possible, try not to think about work or business when you get home. Engage in meaningful conversations with family and friends. Find a new hobby, whip up a good meal or sweat it out at the gym. It’s never too late to prioritize your mental well being above everything else.
Whether it be at business or at work, it is important to learn that your successes or failures do not define who you are. Our time on earth is transient. Some of us may live long lives, whereas there are others whose time is up before they know it. It’s a waste of time to fret over material things which you are not able to bring along when you cease to exist. Instead, spend time to build positive memories, strong relationships and enjoy every moment in life, come what may.