In a few days time, it will be the last day of 2013, and it marks the first full year since I went self-employed. It has been a long way since I graduated from NUS in the mid of 2008.
I still remember the time where I just started work; I was full of optimism. I also gave tuition as a sideline then. In the "safe haven" of employment, it was so comfortable and the future looks bright. The company would try it best for us, or so it appeared.
But some events woke me up.
First event: Retrenchments
I see this company taking a loan from the government so that it could stay afloat and keep the jobs intact. A few months later, retrenchment came, and 10% have to be retrenched. Yet within a few months, hirings resume, for the positions that were retrenched. Jobs are never safe.
Second event: What I saw on my manager's desk
I remember there was once in the office, I saw a stack of printed powerpoint slides that titled: "How to motivate your employees without monetary means". There was a pay freeze at that juncture, and I was still at the pay of a fresh grad after working for 2 years. While I know this MNC isn't doing well in the crisis, and is logical from the business side, this event still left a deep impression on me.
Thus the tough decision to step out in 2012, and attempt to make a living by myself. The first few months were tough, my discipline was sorely lacking, and I was running around like a headless chicken. Fortunately for me, I have an experienced partner in the business, who manages the admin stuff well.
Which brings me to the first lesson I learned: Having an experienced partner or mentor helps greatly in the initial stages of doing business.
That is common knowledge, but I truly appreciate the wisdom in it. I could see the mistakes that I would have made, in terms of finance, HR (choosing tutors) and branding. I wondered if I would have learned these if I had just "do-it-myself". Fortunately for me, my previous dabbling in FAs of companies left me with some basic skills to manage and understand some aspects of SME finance.