Chong Han San, 36, Founder Q MENSWEAR
“I feel reading theoretical business start-up guidebooks is never going to be as effective as speaking directly to entrepreneurs whom you know. They will be able to tell you about realistic on-the-ground issues that you will face and that is the advice that will help you to avoid spending lots of unnecessary time and money.
“How difficult it can be to get customers is something that I feel many overlook when starting a business. You might have a great product or wonderful idea, but if you don’t have effective marketing to attract the right audience, you’re not going to get enough business. When I started I was confident that I had the skills to produce good products; but besides the few customers I already had, nobody else knew about the business. If I had to do it all again, I think I’d definitely have relooked my marketing plan.
“On that note, just using social media to market your products services is not going to be that effective. It’s important to have a plan that has both online and offline elements if you’re looking for a wholesome marketing plan that will produce results.
“Tailoring is an industry that’s been around for centuries and has one of the simplest business models in the world. But sustaining such a business is difficult. Truthfully, the main difference between me and another tailor is the level of customer service. Anyone can make a suit – creating the right fit is a technical skill that can be learned and perfected, but that human interaction between me and my customer is really what decides if they come back again.
“I’ve been in the industry for over a decade and I still try my best to spend as much time as I can interacting with my customers. But I think like most small business owners, at least half of my time goes to handling other aspects of the business, like accounts and administration. We’ve recently expanded our business to China and that’s definitely adding to the load as well. I’m constantly looking for ways to effectively outsource as much of it as possible to focus on the work that I really care about.
“Running you own business is hard work, but what I think is great about it is that you have the power to personally make a change in the world. It can be small, but you actually have the chance to make an impact on the people around you and the business. And it’s not just your customers – you also play a big role in the lives of your staff and employees.
“The ability to impact a person’s life is really what keeps me satisfied with work every day. I’m always happy when I get a chance to see a customer putting on a final product, their expression when you manage to make them look great in a suit and how confident they become. It really isn’t about money. Because if I quit this job and went back to work in the corporate world, I know that I’d definitely be able to make a lot more.”
Chong Han San has been using QuickBooks since 2007. Find out more about QMENSWEAR here. Also, uncover more ways to build a successful business in Singapore here, and discover how QuickBooks Online can help you do just that.