That's E for entrepreneur. More women are ditching the nine-to-five grind for a new kind of challenge - starting a business. But how does one succeed? Five savvy women share their secrets.
Sherry Ang, 29, founder of Sushi Burrito
When Sherry came up with the idea to sell burrito-sized sushi rolls, her friends tried to dissuade her by reminding her how competitive the food industry is. Still, believing there was a market for healthy fast food, she and her partner pooled $180,000 of their savings to open Sushi Burrito at 100AM shopping mall. She broke even within seven months and today, turns a monthly profit of $15,000 to $20,000.
In April this year, Sherry opened another outlet that's just a five-minute drive away from 100AM. It sells burritos that are prepared and sent over from the original outlet. This extended Sushi Burrito's reach into the CBD to hit the office crowd without the need for a new kitchen. "Some prime locations lack crucial features like a water source, so this was a good way to get around that limitation," she explains.
Moving closer to her dream of becoming an internationally franchised chain, Sherry reveals that the brand is expanding to Indonesia at the end of the year, and she's entertaining queries from potential franchisees in Australia, the Middle East and the US.
Kuik Shiao-yin, 37, co-founder of The Thought Collective
It started with a simple vision: to teach students about the world. After observing how many youngsters seemed to be self-centred, Shiao-yin and her two partners started School of Thought, a learning centre offering tuition in General Paper - a subject they felt would expose students to current affairs.
Though the venture was a success - they went from 20 to 100 students within a year - the partners diversified and branched into publishing as well as the cafe business. "We wanted to reach out to kids who weren't our students and the general public," she explains.
Today, she and her partners preside over The Thought Collective, an umbrella organisation of several businesses: School of Thought; Thinktank, which publishes Broader Perspectives, a current affairs magazine for junior college students; Food for Thought, a cafe supporting community causes like Give Clean Water; Thinkscape, which organises heritage trails for students; and Common Ground, which works with partners like the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation on educational projects. The Thought Collective employs 150 staff and made $10.6 million last year.
Surprisingly, Shiao-yin, who is also a Nominated Member of Parliament, reveals that their expansion was not consciously planned. The team simply seized opportunities when they came across them and made swift decisions based on gut feelings. "Everything happened so quickly.
Many times, we were just like, 'Oh, there's an opportunity. Let's go for it'," she laughs.
For example, Food for Thought was started because the partners felt that compared to a classroom for School for Thought, having a cafe in a newly-leased prime location along North Bridge Road would be a better use of space.
1. To read the rest of this article, get a copy of the October 2014 issue of Her World, Singapore’s No. 1 women’s magazine. Her World, published by SPH Magazines is available at all newsstands now.
Also, check out the November 2014 issue for these stories: