Three Things I’ve Learnt As a New Business Owner

It’s been over three months since I left my first job, and to do the unthinkable to most – “take a break”. Basically that meant I had quit without a job, and while I would like to think I’m being paranoid, people would give me rather judgemental looks when I delivered the news.

That or had very snide remarks on how I am being a “tai-tai”, which essentially means women who married rich men and was leading a privileged life. And trust me when I say, the term usually comes with a somewhat-negative connotation as the stereotype of these women would usually be them busy shopping and spending their husband’s money, having high-tea, and going for massages.

I felt very unjust when people would do either of the above – but who was I to fault them, when it was the partial truth. And even though I was busy with the planning of the wedding for two months after I quit, there have been many women before me who had juggled their time with the wedding planning and full-time jobs. I do feel privileged that my then-boyfriend-now-husband supported me in my decision, and was also appreciative of the efforts I had put in during those two months. But I guess general consensus from friends was I had too much time, and would usually poke fun of me being a “tai-tai” and ask what I do everyday – brunch sessions, shopping, facials and massages etc.

Here’s the truth – in the two months before the wedding, I never questioned my decision and truly enjoyed the break, having the time to DIY items for the wedding and all the necessary preparations; but when we came back from our Perth honeymoon and D went off to his in-camp training, I started to get bored in the first week.

I was too used to having a check-list and running about doing errands, or basically just making better use of my time. And I felt so unachieved during that week, which led me to ponder how else I can better make use of my time during this hiatus from proper employment. So when W approached me with an idea to help her out with a business idea, I was intrigued.

Being a typical women who has succumbed to the temptations of online shopping, I’ve always wondered how perfect it would be if I could start one myself – imagine all the clothes I would have! And at a cheaper prices too.

But what W had in mind was for a different target group, and it wasn’t an area which I had much knowledge in. But we did some research and started sourcing for possible items to bring in, and that was the start to our partnership.

It has only been about a month, but here are some lessons and personal reflections which I have learnt as a new online business owner:

Lesson One: Importance of Rapport & Trust between Business Partners 

In this short journey, there have been mistakes made – some forgivable, and some so careless we ought to be shot for. But the important thing is not to point fingers and put the blame on each other. Mistakes made should be taken up upon equally, and neither of the parties should be forking out more than they should. Operating like a business entity should mean that taking up equal responsibilities, and the consequences that come with it.

Although our personalities may be different, the important thing is to come to a consensus on issues. Lucky enough, most of the time we are usually on the same page. And when we have differing opinions, we trust each other to be fair and hear the other out.

Lesson Two: Importance of Support from Family & Friends

W and I agreed that customer service is very important and where possible, we should go the extra mile. That includes accommodating our customer’s schedule for self-collections where possible, and making deliveries to nearer their homes when it is convenient. And while that has been well-received by our customers, the flip side is the inconvenience my family has to bear with when I use the family car to make these deliveries and self-collections.

In the long-run, this is definitely not a sustainable model, and we aim to work towards a more structured process and to find more cost-efficient delivery methods. But meanwhile, being a new player in the market means having to build up our reputation and trust in our customers. And find out more about their needs and get feedback to better improve our business.

Of course, we are very also appreciative of those around us who has taken a bit of their time to find out more about we are selling, and in turn share it with others whom may be interested in our products.

Lesson Three: Constantly Review & Stocktake 

The venture started out as an idea from W to bring in products for the festive season, and use it as an opportunity to test the market and the interest in our selection of products. There were products which I had initially thought would appeal to the market took some warming up, and required a bit more marketing efforts.

Aside from the insights to better our curation of inventory, W and I also discussed the things we need to work on if we were to continue this in the long-run; from managing customers enquiries, storage, to delivery.

And it only gets more interesting from here, as we strive to do better with the insights we gain or intend to. I’m not sure of the scale we intend for our new venture to be in the next 6-12 months, but at the end of it, I am certain we will gain experiences and skills which we won’t be able to get elsewhere.

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