The other day, a taxi uncle (in Singapore, all elder males are affectionately called ‘uncle’ and all elder females, ‘auntieeee’– yeah, drag the ‘eee’) told me:
“One generation makes the money; One generation maintains the money; One generation squanders the money; Your generation, miss, is at the 3rd cycle. You all just want to be spoon-fed and live the good life with your mind up there…don’t want to work hard… useless! Lazy! Vain! Possessed!”
He continues, revealing the source of the middle-aged angst.
“My daughter asked me for money to start a business. I tell her she is xiao ding-dong (barking mad)…20 years old want to start business?! Sure fail.”
“So, did you loan her the money?” I asked.
“OF COURSE NOT! How can I follow her XIAO? That’s uncle’s savings you know! I tell her… finish school, get a job… or get a husband.”
From this we learn a few things about Singapore:
- There exists a generation still fundamentally opposed to entrepreneurship, as it does not give you an “iron rice bowl” – what we use to describe a life-long stable job.
- It’s still pretty patriarchal. Young girl? Starting business? = Lesbian Joke.
- We speak funny.
So I say, besides having a sound idea and a good business head, in Singapore, having family support is the real half-a-battle won. Cinddie Teo (pictured above), 28, owner of www.kindofwonderful.sg an online retail store, unabashedly shares how lucky she is to have the blessings of her mum.
“My Mum has been very supportive, financially and psychologically… I started with my savings and an initial capital injection from her… and now I’ve messed up the house to the point we hardly have space to walk… Love you mummy!”
It all started when she was in school, way before the online retail in was established in Singapore. She dabbled in Ebay and Yahoo! auctions and realized she enjoyed the thrill of being able to turn a dollar into two or more. With the help of a computer-and-camera-savvy boyfriend, friends who supported by shelling out cash without questioning quality of the product, and herself who likes to pose (that’s right, she has to model ALL her clothes, and assures me of minimal photoshopping) she set up her shop.
“We’re constantly benchmarking ourselves against our competitors in terms of traffic, fanbase and reach. I have a rough evaluation of the market size and know where we are in terms of market share. The growth we’ve experienced has been encouraging considering how young the business is,” Cinddie says.
Looks like her 2 years as marketing executive in, I quote, “the dog eat dog world out there” before this stint helped her with the jargon! In other words… I guess she is doing well…? *ker-ching* The pipeline includes designing her own apparel and selling it in her own online shop!
As for her thoughts on entrepreneurialism– she says John Gardner says it best.
“Keep a sense of curiosity. Discover new things. Care. Risk failure. Reach out.”