I’m the founder of Woolf Works, a women co-working space close to Clarke Quay MRT. I founded the business in early 2014 as I saw a gap in the market for a calm and beautiful shared workspace for women. Prior to setting up the business I had spent five years as a stay at home mum so it was a jump for me to go in to entrepreneurship. There were five crucial steps that I believe helped me to create the thriving business and community of Woolf Works today.
1. Take it Seriously
If you have a business idea that you want to make happen, please realise that you will never be successful if you spend all day on Pinterest. You need to keep it in your thoughts from day one that you are the CEO – even if the company is still only in your head. Write it out on a piece of paper and stick it on your bedroom mirror – Your Name, CEO, Dream Company. It is no longer your ‘hobby’, it is your business. And if you want it to succeed you need to work at it seriously, like a CEO. Schedule meetings, network, pitch your idea. Get to work on stuff to make it happen.
2. Talk it Out
I’ve come across quite a few people who have a new business idea that they are so scared someone else will copy that they daren’t breathe a word of that idea to anyone else. Are they then successful? Rarely. And you know what? No one is going to steal your idea! The more you talk about your idea the better – for two reasons: first, talking it through again and again helps you to refine your concept, and secondly, it helps let other people know how they can help you!
3. Find a Peer Circle
I am pretty passionate about peer circles. We have a few different ones at Woolf Works: Lean In Circles, a writers group currently. When I set up my business I was involved with another circle – a group of women in set-up mode, who’d found each other through a Facebook thread. It lead to a monthly gathering in which we shared challenges and success and was a great help to keep me moving forward.
4. Outsource your Weaknesses
When I first started I tried to Do It All. I soon realised that it wasn’t sustainable, it also wasn’t very effective for the business. My weakness is finance and I soon reapplied it was far more sensible for me to have someone come in a few hours a month and do my accounts than it was for me to spent double or even triple that time bumbling through it. When you are just starting out and revenue is low it can be helpful to work out barter agreements or partnerships with people who can help. Maybe you can provide leads for their business or it could be a direct barter of services. Find a win-win so that you are both playing to your strengths.
5. Systemise and Automate
It took me a long time to figure this one out! I wasted a lot of hours reinventing the wheel again and again, instead of putting processes down on paper and sticking to them. When I hired my first employee it was a real challenge to teach them all they needed to do – where as if I had created processes as I went, it would have been a breeze. Same with automating – using all the wonderful digital tools available now. Some of the tools I use daily are Mailchimp (newsletter management), Streak (sales pipeline management), Slack (team communication), Dropbox (file sharing) and Todoist (task management among the team). I wish I had adopted a more systematic approach from the beginning – but am glad I’m so focused on it now as it saved me hours.
Entrepreneurship is definitely not a ride for the fainthearted or half-committed. It’s a rocky road that can eat up your life (and your money!). It can also be incredibly rewarding and allow you a certain flexibility and satisfaction. It must be done cleverly though – with a full self awareness of your own strengths and humbleness to ask for help when needed. There are so many free resources available in Singapore – especially networking events and workshops. Get out there and get hungry!
Will you take up these wonderful tips from Michaela? What other tips do you have for budding entrepreneurs? Share with us! 🙂
Michaela Anchan is the founder and director of Woolf Works, Singapore. She is passionate about women collaborating and supporting each other – and she is also passionate about helping stay at home mothers separate themselves from the domestic sphere so they can have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Michaela is mum to a 7 and a 3 year old and in her ‘spare time’ is either writing her great New Zealand novel, doing yoga or studying towards a creative writing degree.