N & S tips for small businesses – especially if you have small kids
When I started n & s back in 2013 my children Isaiah and Dimi were very young. Isaiah aged 4 and Dimi aged 2. The business was truly un-intended and I had been pushed by my family and friends for at least a year to give the business a try. Why did I refrain for a year, the main reason being FEAR.
What does FEAR mean to me you might ask…
1. A fear of embarrassing myself
2. A fear of rejection
3. A fear of making mistakes
You see I am a perfectionist at heart, so any self-doubt typically means I will shy away from the opportunities. This is a downfall for me, I know this and realise the setbacks it carries with it. Over time I have nurtured this weakness, mainly with the help of family, friends, mentors, businesses who have opened my eyes that failing also brings along with it experience, insight, development and more. So FEAR, as uncomfortable as it is for me, has now become my friend.
I tell you this because I know that many of you are also afraid of taking the next step. The next step for you might be initiating the business, it might be reaching out to other businesses and asking questions. Your fears might be the same as mine and I know how uncomfortable and almost self-defeating it is to carry the weight of those emotions. And at times we want to cry, we feel that no one else would understand, or that we can’t even talk about it. I know this feeling if you are having them and I need you to know that you are not alone.
I wanted to start this conversation with you for many reasons. One because I know there are many of you needing help. Secondly because I feel responsible to be a good role model, mentor and advocate for you. I want to see as many businesses succeed because this industry on all different platforms should have support and personally there wasn’t much out there for me when I started. Or maybe there was and I couldn’t find it. Nonetheless, I am doing this now and hope that what I can offer you is some reassurance and guidance to help you take those next steps. To put your FEARS and self-doubt aside and to just start.
Business Ideas…Taking the Next Step
I will be talking you through how I went about N & S and how you even go about taking the next step.
We need to discuss my previous work history, experiences and things that I love because these are really the fundamentals and foundations of my story. Everything I have learnt and experienced applies to how I operate now. And I think that your own personal and work experiences can be applied as well.
As many of you would know, my background is Greek and I am married to a Singaporean – hence the surname Khoo. This information is important to my story.
A lover of art…
From the moment I remember, I loved art. My earliest memories of picking up a paint brush were when I was 4 years old at kinder and I loved it. Growing up, I loved making things, from pom poms, friendship bands, writing letters and decorating them with glitter – anything art or craft I loved and gravitated to. In primary school, I was always to be found in the art room, and my art teacher was an amazing man who was so passionate about art that it really impacted and influenced me and my own love and adoration for it.
However as the years progressed and electives in high school became the focus, my parents steered me away from photography and art subjects that I deeply desired and showed so much potential for, requested I study politics, history, mathematics, literature etc. because they were immigrants who came to Australia many years ago with only a suitcase in hand. They struggled to build a life so only naturally they wanted what they thought was a better option for me.
Whilst I did actually enjoy those subjects – my heart was always connected with Fine Arts. As I progressed through high school and then attended University, I studied Politics and International Relations but on completion of this degree would require traveling to third world countries and at the time Nick (who is now my husband) were planning to get married (something we needed to do as being Greek my parents requested, moving out of home and travelling were not options for me unless I was married – (long story).
So on completion of my degree, Nick and I got married. I started working in the footwear and hand bag industry. However prior to this, since age 15 I worked in retail with Kmart as a retail assistant and worked my way up to Duty Manager whilst studying at University. This role obviously had many commitments attached to it and I was responsible for a large team, working across the whole store and its operations. I believe from an early age I have always been interested in learning about all facets of a business and I think Kmart really highlights this as I worked in every single department before becoming a Duty Manager.
Footwear and Handbags ….
In footwear and handbags, this is where my understanding for colour became so prominent in my work and has played a big influence. I started to understand design, details, construction of the pieces, the processes involved to get items made, shipped and delivered. I was an all-rounder at work, working with agents, suppliers, retailers, accounts, customer service, photography, you name it I was involved in it. I loved being involved on all levels of the business because it gave me insight to be better at my job, to understand the business on a far greater level. I loved every aspect of it. And I was so fortunate that both businesses allowed me to learn and be mentored. Both owners I believe saw the potential in me to grow and develop and they harnessed that and challenged me to be better and do better. They believed in me.
In the background, my entire family are in the science sector, as you can imagine the conversations at the table were always based around medicine. My family saw the potential in me to work in this field, to earn more money but also be challenged in a way that was completely out of my comfort zone. The medical industry at the time needed people who were great with building relationships, could cope with difficult situations, problem solve and much more. So I decided to give this a go and within 3 months secured a position with an amazing American company who trained me to be the best in the field. I might add that this was a gruelling process of three months plus one month’s worth of exams and role plays overseas which literally broke many applicants. No one was guaranteed a job unless they reached top marks. With no Science background I was unsure I could do it – but at the same time I truly believed that anyone can do anything if they work hard and put their mind to it. You just need DEDICATION and DISCPLINE.
Dedication and Discipline gets you places. When you put your mind to something and you focus on it so much, I believe you can make anything happen. The key is to keep going and not give up. At times things are going to feel difficult, it may be family issues, sickness, unexpected commitments that require you and your attention. But you need to be able to find that happy medium in that point in your life where you are able to give some dedication to the goal. It may be 30 minutes of the day but that 30 minutes needs complete focus and attention and by disciplining yourself to do that every day for 30 minutes with no interruptions is how you to start to make progress.
You are your own timeline…
You are not on anyone’s timeline. I think many of us make this mistake where we feel we need to be a lot further than where we are, most likely based on assessing ourselves against other businesses, people and their successes. This is a BIG NO NO. We must stop comparing ourselves to others and simple focus on our own goals, objectives and what works for us in our own households. Everyone’s experience is going to be different and everyones situation is going to be slightly different. I bring this up because I really believe that the dedication and discipline component tie into this. We need to work out what time available we have to give to the business and focus on doing it really really well rather than worrying and feeling defeated because of our own interpretations of what other people are achieving.
What does your RESUME look like…
I want to brake this down into resume like thinking because I feel that if we look into our skills, it helps to develop an understanding of what we might be missing and how we can improve and further develop our skill sets. It’s an important process we need to do and I know it may feel a little daunting but it will enable you to tap into your weaknesses.
Example: My Work Experience Skills Sets I developed in my previous job roles included:
- Collaboration is one of the main skills here especially in today’s society where team effort has become much more emphasized and our successes are also based on
- Time Management is crucial, multi-tasking and being able to deliver deadlines, understanding priorities, knowing when to delegate is important.
- Good Work Ethics as mentioned above, Dedication and Discipline are so important in progress.
- Good Communication is critical in how you convey yourself and making your point and how you relate to people and build trust.
- Problem Solving and the ability to think outside the square.
- Confidence in yourself, the decisions you make and how to present yourself to others.
- Handling Pressure and the Ability to be Adaptable to different things that arise.
This is the beginning of the blog posts and I will be update the next one with information that starts to tie into the developments of n & s.
Layer 1 - Before nectar and stone, an insight into the life of Caroline Khoo.