Wednesday, August 19, 2015

8 Facts about Taitrepreneur

It has really been hectic for the past months, and I finally have some time to pen down some thoughts!

Concerned friends ponder over what I am doing with my career now, but some filthy mouth spew untrue gossips saying I've started an events agency to despicably trying (too) hard to have a foot in the trade. Not too sure of the authenticity of this piece since it was a hear-say thing, but owning an events company is the last thing I want to do cos' that's as good as selling my life away for a 24/7 job. Nothing against friends who run one now, just saying I'm not cut-out to be an events company lady boss; I'm simply too work-life-balance centric.

I've left my full time job in early 2014 and started to take in freelance events works from various agencies on the go. At the same time, I started For The Wedding with an events girlfriend (she went back to full time after a while) and aim to bring its name to a brighter ground in one year's time, in preparation for my Taitrepreneur journey. I strongly believed that being a Taitrepreneur will allow me to have more time with my kid in future, managing a business at home while having full bonding time with my child. Sounds pretty awesome isn't it? Like an entrepreneurial SAHM (Stay At Home Mum). I gave myself one year to build the name, and most fortunate enough, I got pregnant the second year (that's now!). Everything seems to fall in place nicely so far. The business is growing fast, and I've to put in conscious efforts to keep it within my managing capacity. It's not my intention to grow the business too large scale, because I'm not an entrepreneur, but a Taitaipreneur *wink!* I'll definitely crave for my "Me Time", overseas trips and family times. I reckon this scale is by far the best to work with, at least for now.

So what exactly is "Taitrepreneur"? Well, it's just a Singa Slang for "Tai Tai" (wealthy married woman who does not need to work - every girl's dream to be one, but in Singapore, I guess it just means 'no need to work but won't die of hunger') and "Entrepreneur".
Piecing the two together = Turn passion into business while you still enjoy your high teas and holidays.

Sounds pretty cool isn't it! I'm still holding on to my very positive thoughts about Taitrepreneur, but like all entrepreneurship, there are mind boggling issues that you need to fight on your own. 

Weeks after feeling down in late 2014, I'd gotten over that nasty taste and got on my feet for more challenges ahead. Fast forward to 2015, I see the need to pen down the thoughts and set reminders for self, and probably other aspiring Taitrepreneur, that nothing comes by easy. Even for the easiest job in the world (I really thought marrying passion and forte is easy), there bound to be hair pulling times and self doubting sessions. 

So here are 8 insights about Taitrepreneurship, the good and bad. You decide if you want to be one:

1. Flexible Working Hours

The immediate pro that come to my mind = wake up naturally every morning (睡到自然醒)! Well, sometimes I wake up earlier to prepare breakfast for my entrepreneur husband (co-founder of 360 & 5 branding agency), and I got to enjoy peaceful mornings without the need to commute with million of others during the a.m peak hours.

Working from home is a convenient option, having myself periodically popping into the office/warehouse/workspace (however you call it) when I need to craft for upcoming projects. I sit myself at my cosy working desk, dressed in singlet and FBTs sometimes, liaise with the world at my very personalized comfort zone, literally. I get to cook/bake more often for my family, and if I manage to clear work quick enough, I can even high tea with my sisters.

Of course, the trade-off will be working on the go after 6pm or occasionally when I'm overseas. Well, I don't mind that since I get to travel more often now (without the 14 annual leaves constraints). Sometimes life is all about give and take. I'm still swooning over this unique trait of Taitrepreneur, probably the greatest draw to the profession.

2. The Discipline Issue

Yes, with the flexible working time, it also mean you tend to let loose a bit too much at times. I used to wake up too late and high tea too much with my sister. I was slow in getting my website up and procrastinated over work details.

It was until the first job kicked in last September when I got myself a proper routine. Finally reconnected with my contacts, visited their workspaces, had in-depth discussions with working partners, got my logo done, depicted corporate colours, set up emails, got a warehouse, printed my name cards, selected materials and kept samples for customers viewing etc.

Being your own boss gives you leeway in being disciplined at work, and this very excuse often leads to procrastination. Discipline is something that will haunt you in the course of Taitrepreneurship, forever. I'm still learning to upkeep the disciplinary at work and not slack off too much or get myself out of the radar too soon.

3. Paper Works are Real

I got consumed by paper works really badly. From setting the contract templates, to getting the  excel formulae right, get in touch with the right bank and register the necessary official documents. Top the chart of most hated paper works definitely goes to ACCOUNTING. The P&L, inventory sheets, balance sheets etc seemed foreign after clearing these compulsory modules in polytechnic almost 9 years ago. It gets even more intense when income tax filing is near. When I started out on FTW, I sure have overlooked this devilish side of a business, but paper works are real. Very real.

4. Multi-Tasking

I used to think that paper flower backdrops mean sitting at home cutting papers, beautify the boards with paper blooms and that's all. The only challenge I foresee was the tight set-up timeline between each weddings.

When I finally set my heart and soul into doing this wholeheartedly, I realize I'm battling against time for everything. I maintain relationships with vendors, meet up with clients, close deals, do up presentations, spin ideas, order goods, be around during goods delivery, upkeep marketing efforts, draft corporate and consumer profiles, update social media, double up as photographer for our portfolios (albeit an amateur one), oversee paperworks and temp staff allocations, venue liaison, material sourcing, pay up for rental and to collect rent from my sublet, invoicing & make payments to trade vendors, track cheques status etc... The list just goes on and on.

It can be daunting at first. I was totally spent in the first operation year, often finding myself overwhelmed by the never ending to-do lists. Stepping into our second year, I got a hang in dealing these tasks, and eventually find joys in handling them. Multi-tasking is a valuable skill set that Taitrepreneurs gain overtime, but not to fret over it, the multiple holidays and break sessions help to sooth your nerves pretty well;)

5. Prioritize Better 

On top of my task list, insistent trips and rest times, I learnt to say "No" to requests and demands at ease. Evaluation on opportunity costs come into play more often, for everything we choose to do plays a vital role in losing another potential deal, be it monetarily (business), physically (events participation) or spiritually (holistic recuperations). For me, family above business principally, health over everything essentially. If I'm too jaded at work, I'm no longer shy to reject meet ups just so I can catch some breath at somewhere serene; if I haven't been spending time with my family, I will politely turn down gatherings or some jobs for a short getaway with them. If I am thirsty for social life, I'll date the buddies out for mindless catch ups. Also, I feel less obliged to attend meet ups in a haste of time if there are tight deadlines ahead. You will soon learn that it's difficult to please everyone / everything with just a single You. It's then you're forced to learn the art of prioritizing.

6. Self Doubt

I can't even find the proper words to describe the kind of fear I was struggling with back then. I fear for things that are not even before my eyes. "What if the business fail?" "What if the business gets too overwhelming that I can't handle the growth?" The "What ifs" get a little out of hand after some times when in actual fact, everything seemed smooth sailing. With all the trusts and assistance given by trade or personal contacts, I can't help but feel more responsible for the things I need to deliver. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I'm trying to cut corners for deliveries, but you know, when people shower you with trusts and good words, you get compelled to deliver above-expectations job.

The mental stress of delivering a "superbmazing" job is killing me, as if I'm not good at all. I lost appetites, lost sleeps and even lost my mirth. I felt pretty alone most of the time at work, and felt like I need to take on a lot more responsibilities in every aspect of the works since it's my baby business. Close friends took extra attention on me and some commented I lost weight, the negative way (looking frail and distraught). This definitely was not something I see when I wanted a Taitrepreneurship.

No one could tame the demons in me, except myself. Afraid that there won't be business? Then work on the marketing and USPs. Afraid that you can't finish the job on time? Then hire more helpers. Soon, I realize that there WILL be a solution to every fear I have. Having plan B helps, but accepting my plan B helps even more. My advise, be receptive to alternate plans and not resent the activation of your backup plans. Sometimes, your unknown internal struggles of not able to fulfill plan A manifests into resentments and that's what eat you up.

Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who pretty much guided me every single time I lose my directions. I took quite a while to walk out from the gloom, but once I'm out of it, I feel 10 times stronger. It's then I look back and think, yay success (whatever scale it is) is sweet. I'm glad that I did not throw in the towel back then.

7. Appear to be a Bummer

I recall this friend who outrightly asked me during a gathering "Hey are you still doing nothing now? Erm, I mean not looking for a job?" I forgot what my answer was, but this got stuck in my head for quite a bit.

Everyone thinks it's easy to go "jobless" (if you only considered being employed as having a job) and be a bummer do something you like. At least they will think that you're probably the "most free person on earth". It is just difficult to put across how busy we are, as we seem most willing to be in this state than another and appear all cheery about life just because we manage our time better now (after ironing out the paper work procedures). I guess it's a happy thing to look carefree! Going overseas more often than you could as compared to full time employment, spent shorter time working on things you used to do from 9am-6pm, have lunch with your mum more often than when you were schooling, attend certain brand sales before lunch time and get hold of better items before lunch crowd sets in... Do the above while you're still working on your business growth, you just feel more satisfied, intrinsically and extrinsically :)

Taitrepreneur is a bummer job? Then be a damn positive one who earns your own living.

8. A more Appreciative Being

When you decide to start a business, any business of any scale, hardships ensues. You understand the concepts of hard earned money better, and capsuled that "Tai Tai" mindset. Taitrepreneurship encompass compassions and that makes you treat your fellow vendors even better, enjoy more while you are enjoying, and work harder while you are working. Truly living the moments anytime, anywhere. You know good days are not owed by anyone, and you have the ability to make your everyday a good one, its all in the mind.

Though I totally sounded busy, I'm actually not that busy either as compared to the full time events days. I would think I learn to love myself better in this race, and appreciate more than I ever do. I find life being a treasure trove of quirky gifts where you uncover happiness from the little things you do everyday. Be it new flowers I'd come up with, new dishes that I discover, a stranger whom we smile to each day, another client who appreciates our work, reunion with long time friends, impromptu meals with family or simply a tickle from the baby inside my tummy. Every ounce of these makes life a little sunnier and rainy days a little more bearable.

I'm most fortunate to have friends of similar frequencies who agree that our friendships are not measured by the number of hours we see each other, but pride over the quality conversations and updates we do from time to time all thanks to technology. We do not drift too far away from each other as we understand the different priorities at various life stages. The late 20s are building up their career portfolios and giving it all to the projects under their wings; the 30s have either settled down and getting used to the newborns / family life or actively connecting with the potential partners in hope to tie the knot in the next few years. We come together to celebrate nothing these days, for we just gather to rejoice every little things in life.


Tough it may sound at the beginning, the ability to persevere is virtue. The returns so far, are rich enough to keep me going,  contentedly in the mind and soul. I adore the state that I'm in now, even though I think I can shed off a few more pounds lol.

If you have the ideas, make them into a reality as best as you can. Cliche as it sounds, "you'll never know till you try". I guess I would rather live fully in "At least I did it..." than regret on the "what if I had done this...". My handwriting is bad, my drawing sucks especially 3D ones, my sewing and stitching never made it to anywhere near 'presentable', but I have ideas. I built castles in the air and thought I'm just good at day dreaming, but hey I turned one of my castles into reality, at least^-^ Paper flowers are Chanel inspired. Putting them together onto backdrops, arches, bouquets and pavilions (soon in stock btw!) falls in one by one when the calling comes. Not sure if this is sustainable in the long run, since I'm just into the second year, but well, I'll keep trying:)

One step at a time, as Taitrepreneur advocates a healthier balance of work & life.

Taitrepreneur at one of the set ups, beaming amongst the paper blooms

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