Winnie Chow, 46, Founder of Boxes & Things
I’m not the type who spends a lot of time pondering and planning when it comes to making business decisions. I usually have a rough idea of my goals and make necessary changes as I go along. I feel that knowing what I want is more important than exactly how to achieve it.
I choose to be in the homeware business because I love being at home and it’s where I spend most of my time with my family and friends. There’s no shortage of homeware products in the market, but it isn’t often you come across something that’s affordable. I wanted my business to bring in products that were not only affordable, but also functional and well-designed.
About 10 years ago, when I first wanted to start my homeware business, I attended a trade fair in Hong Kong to source for products. Some suppliers at the trade fair wouldn’t even give me their name cards because my orders were too small for them. I went back to the same trade fair again in 2016 and the sentiment was quite different, as suppliers were more inclined to work with small business owners like me. The global economy was showing signs of slowing down and business was very competitive; suppliers and manufacturers were keen to work with businesses, big and small. From this experience, I realised that there are many more opportunities for small businesses during an economy downturn.
Strong family support is extremely important when it comes to starting your own business. But even with that support, you must want to work hard at a business even before you begin. Your commitment to the business doesn’t necessarily need to be huge, and if you really want to do it, you’ll find the time.
Fear of failure is inevitable, but I always remind myself how no successful businesses has made it without facing challenges and making mistakes.
When you’re first setting up a business I would encourage you to try to do everything yourself. You’ll quickly understand how difficult it can be, and that will motivate you to work towards being able to outsource certain tedious business tasks like bookkeeping and delivery fulfilment. At the same time, you’ll also be able to understand the challenges the vendors you hire go through while they are working on your projects. This helps you find better solutions to help them help you.
Working at home might save you time in commuting and rental overheads but it means you’re going to get interrupted very often, especially if you are a mother with two young children like me; so efficient time management is extremely important. I spend a lot of time working on my business in the mornings while my kids are at school and at night when they’ve gone to bed.
I believe that for any business to succeed, the focus should not only be on making money. Too much focus on bottom line can potentially leads to bad business decisions. I feel that revenue and profits are instead by-products of a business with the right values so I focus more on establishing good relationships with both my suppliers and customers. This makes business more enjoyable and drives it forward.
I feel running a business is similar to nurturing a child with love and instilling the right values, so they grow up to become a happy and successful individual. Success doesn’t necessarily mean making lots of money because money don’t ensure happiness. It is about building all the right pillars to provide a solid foundation, and then letting go while hoping for the best.
Winnie Chow has been using QuickBooks since she started her business in 2016. Find out about Boxes & Things here. Uncover more ways to build a successful business in Singapore and discover how QuickBooks Online can help you do just that.