Starting your own shop

Rodney 1 comment
Starting your own shop

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Helena Tay, who recently left her position as an Art Director for Malaysian Design firm, Bates141 to start her own design work, centred around gift related products.

Little Mo & Friends, represented a shift from working for someone else to self employment - and all the risks and rewards that such a move entails. Readers were encouraged to ask questions about what Helena's motivations where and how things are working out. I sent these questions to Helena and asked her to give us a little background on how she got where she is and how things are going.

Here are her responses.

"How did she know it was time to strike out on her own?
Was she happy in her original job? Or was this an "escape?"

From the beginning I always knew that I wanted to start up my own business and work on my own.

I was mostly happy with my original job as I was working in an art/design related field but over the years, I grew a little anxious about my business plans. The desire for me to run my own business was really growing to a point where I was consumed with thoughts and ideas about it.I guess I can never say for everybody when the right time is, but when I decided to leave my original job, it felt like the right time for me. It was all I could ever think about and a part of me believed that if I tried, I could really make it work. So I took that leap of faith and jumped into it.

"I have been running my own business since 1987 and I am 41. It has bought me 2 houses and a relatively good lifestyle. Did Helena have a business plan?"

Yes. I had a rough skeleton plan about my business plans prior to leaving my job. After I left my job, I used all my free time to properly plan and research. Then it was just a matter of slowly marking off all the things on my long ‘to do’ list for my business. Any mistakes I make, I learn from it. And while I keep marking off my ‘to do’ list, I still continue to add a lot into the list!

"i started my own business nearly 8 years ago and while it was quite daunting at first ( and sometimes still is ) was exciting at the same time."

Yes, in truth it’s one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever faced. Just the thought of not being a part of a normal work force or a proper ‘9-5’ job makes you feel like you are a complete different being on this planet! And it makes you feel like you’re entirely on your own now. But yes, without a doubt so exciting at the same time.

"I am currently developing a company and have already got a business plan with two other buddies of mine. Basically we already have met and presented to our client and they are very positive about our future product. I am currently in a 9-5 situation as an engineer for a very reputable and multi-national company doing an Oil and Gas project for overseas clients.
Basically I plan to quit this 9-5 if our product kicks off. I want to ask when would be the right time for someone in my situation, and is it wise doing so? How did she weigh out the risks, etc. Was her investment in her own company worth it? And finally, does she have more free time, or less, and is she enjoying her work now?
By the way, I am from Malaysia too.
Thanks a lot!"

Like many independent business owners will tell you, there are lots of risks involved in running your own business; money is one for me. Over the years, I’ve put some funds aside for my business so currently most of my investment is tied up in my products. In a business, you have to invest a bit of your money to make a little extra money out of it. If you’re lucky, you can get back your money and profit pretty quickly or it may take awhile. I think if you are prepared to work hard and be persistent, you can make your investment pay off. We can’t all expect to hit the jackpot overnight:)

As for free time, I do find that I am constantly working on my business and that I put in a lot of dedication and time to it. More so than my original job. I honestly don’t mind this as I really enjoy working on my business.

"Welcome Mo to the seedy world of self employment. I've enjoyed the ups and downs for several years now and only the last few did I take on an extra day job for starter benifits. My first business was well before the web and consisted of repairs to air cooled engines many of which were VWs. Presently I have two main businesses one being a web with products like yours I design, make and sell to agents plus my summer peak business of motorcycle tunes, tires and colors."

Yes, I think one should always be open to changes in their business plans. If today I felt like I really needed some extra money for my own business I would take an extra part-time job for starter benefits just like you. I don’t see anything wrong in it. I just see it as an extra investment of my time that will go back into my own business.

Some may say ‘but I quit my 9-5 job just so I could be my own boss and not work for others, so why do I have to work another job’? But when you are your own boss, you have to be open to changes. If your business has a problem, you need to be open to different ways to fix those problems, you need to change your current lifestyle and work attitude. You can’t be the same person as you were when you were working for your old boss.

"Two interesting books people wishing to start their own business- The E myth by Michael Gerber and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Both straight forward and both great reading. cheers nnfc"

Thanks! I will check them out!

"I was wondering if the current economic crisis had any bearing on your decision and timing?"

When I left my original job, it was before the economic crisis. It was only when I started my business up and running that the economic crisis hit the country. Personally it didn’t affect me so much because I was going to get my business up and running regardless of what was going on out there! And if things were tight, then I would take an extra job. I wouldn’t give up on my business. Now that my business is really up and running…after all these years I’ve been dreaming of it, I hope to continue to make it work successfully.

Thanks very much to Helena Tay and everyone who asked questions. It's probably not too late to ask anymore so if you're interested in starting your own business, feel free to throw a few questions to the group.

Not a Member!

Naomi Fairfax

Tuesday 3rd August 2010 | 10:37 PM

What a great collection of advice on running a business! I'm going to add to the pile and say that aspiring entrepreneurs would do well to check out the franchise opportunities available at, which include listings for major chains like Subway.

Add a comment

Login to Rusty Lime

Not registered? | Forgot your Password? Cancel Login