Like Minds

Find­ing The founder of the Busi­ness Women’s Netwo r k , Aus­tralian MICHELLE MCFAR­LANE, tells Ex­pat Liv­ing what she feels it takes to suc­ceed in busi­ness here.

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Life & Family -

Mov­ing to Sin­ga­pore was equally daunt­ing and ex­cit­ing, but when my hus­band was of­fered a role here we de­cided to take the plunge and em­bark on a new op­por­tu­nity with our two chil­dren. Once we’d set­tled into a daily rou­tine, I be­came a lit­tle lost on what to do for my­self. I started to ex­plore my old hob­bies – draw­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy – but I knew I needed some­thing more to stim­u­late my busi­ness mind, and de­cided to keep the hob­bies as hob­bies.

My first busi­ness was greet­ing cards, which are very ex­pen­sive here, so I started Af­ford­able Cards, an on­line busi­ness that I can man­age around the fam­ily. This busi­ness is still in op­er­a­tion and my cards are now listed on Red­mart.

At that point, I recog­nised that I really missed in­ter­ac­tion with peo­ple – some­thing that helps keep me mo­ti­vated and in­spired. Over the years I have worked in many dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and places, from a tele­vi­sion sta­tion to health ser­vices, forestry and event man­age­ment; I even owned and op­er­ated a Latin dance school and dance shop!

So, I scanned Face­book for net­work groups where I could meet other ladies who were op­er­at­ing a busi­ness. Af­ter at­tend­ing a few group meet­ings, it be­came ap­par­ent that there were many ladies in Sin­ga­pore just like me: look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties, start­ing up busi­nesses and with many ques­tions to be an­swered.

That was the in­spi­ra­tion to start a group to share ideas, learn more about dif­fer­ent cul­tures, cel­e­brate and em­brace busi­ness growth and cre­ate a sup­port net­work and plat­form. What be­gan as a small meet-up in my apart­ment in 2014, quickly be­came the Busi­ness Women Net­work (BWN).

BWN has de­vel­oped a fan­tas­tic cul­ture and brings to­gether women from across the world to share, sup­port, col­lab­o­rate and suc­ceed. It’s not all busi­ness though. In Jan­uary 2016, the BWN pulled to­gether to as­sist the el­derly com­mu­nity, giv­ing a makeover to an HDB flat and its needy res­i­dents. Net­work mem­bers and their fam­i­lies do­nated their time, clothes, fur­ni­ture, house­hold items, money and more, to give those less for­tu­nate a chance to live and ex­pe­ri­ence a more com­fort­able home. I’m or­gan­is­ing some­thing sim­i­lar for 2017.

One of the first ladies to join our group in 2014, Priya Naik-tai­lor, al­ready had a job, but wanted to pur­sue her pas­sion for in­te­rior de­sign. With the sup­port of BWN, Priya has made over a dozen busi­ness col­lab­o­ra­tions with ladies within the net­work, and has been fea­tured in mag­a­zines and on­line. She is now well re­spected for her ex­quis­ite style and in­te­rior de­signs. Priya is just one of the many BWN mem­bers who have made con­nec­tions within BWN and used our net­work and plat­form to their ad­van­tage.

What have I learned? No mat­ter what net­work group you are part of, as long as you are con­nect­ing, build­ing re­la­tion­ships, learn­ing, con­tin­u­ally grow­ing your busi­ness and be­ing around pos­i­tive peo­ple, you will achieve and suc­ceed in your field. Op­er­at­ing a busi­ness takes hard work with many sac­ri­fices – es­pe­cially in the ini­tial set-up phase. For me, op­er­at­ing sev­eral busi­nesses and man­ag­ing the fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties can be a challenge at times. I don’t have a full-time helper, so or­gan­is­ing my time, pri­ori­tis­ing tasks and be­ing pro­duc­tive, rather than busy, is im­por­tant.

• To es­tab­lish, build and de­velop your ca­reer, or test a ca­reer change • To pro­mote and ex­pand your

busi­ness • To in­crease your knowl­edge and aware­ness, and en­sure your skills are rel­e­vant • To test out con­cepts when

start­ing up a new busi­ness • To cre­ate a sup­port group, find a

men­tor or be a men­tor • To meet peo­ple you can build con­nec­tions and de­velop stronger re­la­tion­ships with

And I have some ad­vice. There are many op­por­tu­ni­ties out there, but it all comes down to how much you want it, and how hard are you pre­pared to work for it. In­vest­ing time in your­self and im­ple­ment­ing what you in­vest is the key. If you can find the right peo­ple or per­son to help you achieve your re­sult, that’s an added bonus; con­tinue to grow with them and let what they do and teach be a guide to achieve your goals.

In­vest­ing in your­self, and al­low­ing your­self the free­dom to do so, sends a pow­er­ful mes­sage and makes a big dif­fer­ence in how you look at things, and how you achieve them. To all the women I say: pur­sue your pas­sions, be fear­less and give it a go.

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