Pat Law, early 30s, founder of social influence agency Goodstuph
Pat's aim when she started her branding agency in 2010: for the company to be in the black within three months. Turns out, it was never in the red to begin with.
Sure, she saved on rent, thanks to a good pal who had kindly extended her office space in his own agency for free.
But Pat also ran the company single-handedly for six months, doing everything from paperwork, making follow-up calls, networking, graphic design and writing copy for campaigns - no surprise that instant noodles became her best friend.
She stuck it out, only hiring help when she was sure she could pay her staff for at least a year.
Today, she has eight employees - all paid above market rate ("I refuse to run a sweatshop") - who dream up campaigns for big names like Sephora, United Overseas Bank, Ben & Jerry's and Nike.
Pat has even opened an office in Bangkok recently, and is set to open another one in Hong Kong by June.
- Need help? Ask!
"I'm terrible at numbers, so I hired an accountant on an ad hoc basis. If you've never run your own business before, get advice from someone who has. If you're not a natural salesperson, then don't bother with the cold calls and stick with existing clients."
- Don't behave like a newbie.
"Run your business like you're one of the big boys. Just because you're new doesn't give you an excuse to make mistakes like not replying to an e-mail or not sending out an invoice."
- Learn to say no.
"Don't bite off more than you can chew. In the early days, I had to reject a big bank as a client because I knew I would not be able to deliver the results the bank wanted."