Love, Bonito CEO Rachel Lim’s 10 best tips for entrepreneurs and business-owners
At 19 years of age, Rachel Lim’s enterprising spirit led her to take a leap of faith to start her own business while she was still an undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University. 13 years on, her homegrown fashion business not only went beyond the local online market to capture the hearts of global online shoppers but also expanded to brick-and-mortar retail stores in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Hong Kong.
Now, she is best known as the co-founder of one of Singapore’s most successful fashion brands — Love, Bonito.
How did Rachel thrive in the highly competitive fashion industry despite fierce competition from foreign labels? Here are 10 quotes from Rachel that may shed light to business-owners in Singapore on what entrepreneurship is about and how they can manage their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“We are in the business of women and fashion is just one conduit for us to fulfil our goals”
Business-owners in Singapore should view entrepreneurship with bigger aspirations. It is not always about selling products and services but how your business can empower your customers or make them live better. Taking Love, Bonito as an example, the brand is built upon the objective of making shoppers feel more confident to face everyday challenges. It intends to fill an emotional gap to inspire self-confidence. When women resonate with that brand objective, they will naturally become loyalists.
“I went on a journey to discover and embrace who I am. I chose to focus on my strengths and hone in on them while acknowledging my limits.”
Being self-aware is an essential step to achieving success. When you understand your strengths, weaknesses and the things that make you who you are as an individual, you can make more informed decisions that produce a positive impact on yourself and your business.
“Do not be in a hurry to start your own business yet at the same time don’t wait too long.”
In an interview, Rachel quoted James Clear’s “Don’t rush, but don’t wait, do it thoughtfully”. She advocates entrepreneurship, but only when one is clear about why he or she is doing it. No one should start a business for the sake of becoming a business-owner in Singapore.
“My definition of success is this quote by American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson that goes, ‘To be yourself in a world that’s constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.’”
Instead of conforming to cookie-cutter approaches or following the leadership style of famous entrepreneurs, Rachel realised the importance of coming into her own and establishing her own path. Similarly, Singapore business-owners should explore their strengths and map out how they want to manage their SMEs instead of mirroring other leaders or businesses.
“Intuition is key when you speak to someone and especially today where most people are so skilled at giving the right answers.”
Developing intuitive leadership is useful for making sound decisions. No doubt that data and facts offer insights into how to manage your business but entrepreneurs who take their time to hone their intuition usually have more clarity on non-tangible matters that require fast decision-making.
“Having done my best to make this (gratitude journaling) a daily practice over the last five years, I have experienced the cumulative impact of rewiring the way I think and respond to situations and challenges.”
Business-owners in Singapore can take entrepreneurship to a whole new level if they choose to meditate on what they are grateful for. Whether you practise daily gratitude journaling like Rachel or sit in quiet contemplation for five minutes every day, you will develop more positive moods and optimism to manage your business. Studies also found that keeping a log of what you are thankful for can lower stress, help you sleep better and even reduce the risk of heart disease.
“In Love, Bonito’s core value: People matter and I truly believe the organisation is nothing without the people”
Business-owners in Singapore should understand that employees are the backbone of their business. Having a happy workforce means a happy business. Employees champion your business and directly impact its success or failure. Always treat employees with the value they bring.
“I believe in the need to be authentic and vulnerable enough to share my struggles and failures, to reiterate the fact that we are all a work in progress, and no one is perfect.”
Being a business-owner does not mean you are without weaknesses. At times, sharing your vulnerable sides can bring you closer to co-workers or even let others contribute solutions that you are not aware of. At work, showing vulnerability can help to foster good emotional and mental health which takes away the stress of managing a business.
“I think consumer’s preferences, needs and the way they view life change so quickly. For us, as individuals and leaders in the business, it is really important to be able to keep up with all the changes that are going on in the world.”
The ability to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace is the key to success for any business-owner. Especially in the current economy that is going through rapid inflation and technological advancement, being willing to embrace change and adopt new strategies can open more doors to growth than stubbornly sticking to outdated ones.
“Hearing people’s stories of success and failure have greatly helped me reframe my own mindset towards building a business, being a leader, and balancing work and family.”
Keep learning. Whether you are learning through books or from a coach, perpetual learning is one of the easiest ways to remain relevant in the evolving environment. Business-owners who are committed to learning new skills and embracing new knowledge will be better prepared to keep their business going during turbulent times.
Entrepreneurship in Singapore requires a lot of perseverance and resilience to reach the success you want. Thankfully, what may help to ease your burden is the wide variety of SME loans available in the market to help you build your dream business. If you are looking for the right business loan for your startup, start your search with our latest report on the best SME business loans and the best business loans in Singapore.