The Most PR Savvy Mumpreneur
Singapore is a great place if you want to be both a mum and a business woman. You can be head of the household and head of your own company without even removing your Ergo. In fact, being knee deep in looking after a little one has, for some women, led to inspiration striking and sole proprietorships starting. Recently, this dual role was celebrated in the Singapore Mumpreneur of the Year Awards 2014. Among a pool of successful nominees, 7 ladies were selected as leaders of the pack in various categories. Here, Michelle Goh – Founder of CompleteMe, a boutique dating agency, and winner of Most PR Savvy Mumpreneur – shares some expert mumpreneur tips…
Congratulations Michelle! Can you tell us a bit about your background?
After graduating, I was in the rat race for 10 years before I started my own business. Through various roles I was able to accumulate enough experience to eventually strike out on my own.
My first job, as an events executive in a research think-tank, was where I learnt about running events. I handled groups of 20 to 400 people, including some notable VIP’s. Working as an analyst in a car park management company, I clinched a contract worth $14m and this helped me hone my project management skills. My last job before I left the corporate world was in Business Development for an IT company, focusing on the acquisition of companies.
I left my job to spend more time with my son (he was 1 at the time and is now 2 and a half) and it was then that I hatched the idea for CompleteMe.
So, how did you get started running your own business? Where did the idea come from?
When I was in the corporate world, I had to leave the house while my son was still sleeping and I often didn’t arrive home until 7pm. This meant we had little quality time together. My husband and I came to the conclusion that it was more important for me to be available to my son. Meanwhile, I had started a singles group on Facebook back when I was single myself, and this had grown to a few thousand people. Members were flooding me with calls and messages to hold events where they could meet others and this is how the Facebook group evolved into CompleteMe.
Was it important to focus in on a unique selling point and stand out?
Definitely! I knew I had a captive audience with my Facebook group but I needed to offer something that was different to what else was out there in order to make a successful business. I studied what was available in the market and who my competitors might be. I tried different dating formats and decided to specialise in 1-to-1 speed-dating rotation events. These events are held at restaurants / cafes with a romantic and comfortable ambience.
Tell us how you went about setting up the business – was it a difficult process?
I was already running events, but changing from a hobby to a business involved a shift in mind-set. It became very important to have a good number of participants at each event. I realised that my newsletter needed to become more effective in order to achieve the take-up I needed. I also had to spend a lot of time individually contacting my database until things got established. Till now, a portion of my time is spent replying to and dealing with queries. But, word of mouth has grown and so has my database of users. Not long ago I hosted the Largest Gokon Gathering inSingapore, with 126 partcipants and that created a record in Singapore Book of Records. This Japanese concept is the ultimate dating event!
What are the pro’s and con’s of being a mumpreneur?
Like with all things there are upsides and downsides to running your own business. I really enjoy being able to plan my own time and fit work around my commitments to my son. And it has been a great learning curve to own and manage CompleteMe. Having said that, it is all down to me. If I don’t work, things don’t happen. There is a loss of benefits that come from being in the corporate world too: medical benefits, CPF and pay rises are things of the past.
What would be a normal day for you in balancing the business and home-life?
I take my son to and from pre-school and I tend to do administrative work in the morning. In the afternoons I go for occasional meetings and check out venues. In the evenings, I have designated time with my son. Once he is in bed, my husband and I have time together and I get a bit more work done later in the evening when he goes to bed too. We have a terrific helper, so I have the flexibility if I need to leave my son with her at a moments notice.
What has been the secret to your success?
Passion is the secret to my success. Participants at my events feel that I am genuinely trying to help them find a partner and hence, continual support. Technology has played an important role too. I use an events management platform to organise all my events, which frees up more time from the administration. Since the birth of CompleteMe in 2012, I have successfully matched 3 couples where it has led to marriage!
What advice would you give to other mums looking to start something of their own?
- Pursue something you are passionate about. Once you have passion, the money takes care of itself. Don’t be driven by monetary rewards in your planning.
- Have determination and perseverance. The initial stage, when you are marketing your product / service and people are unfamiliar with what you are doing, it can be very tough and you’re prone to doubt yourself, but with perservance, eventually the sales will come in.
- Word of mouth is very important so it’s important to treat every customer/client well. When they are happy, they will recommend you to their friends.
Thanks for your insight Michelle. What are your future plans?
A dating app could be coming soon!