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Successful women entrepreneurs

Three lady bosses share their personal experiences in setting up their businesses

Lynn Chow: "All entrepreneurs should have a passion for what they are doing, the determination and the perseverance for the long haul."

Emma Li: "Getting the One Asia Award ... has increased my public recognition as a business person and widened my network."

Chanel Choo: "Never give up once you have made up your mind... plan for the next day every morning without a break until success has been achieved."

Roundtable participants

  • Lynn Chow Chief Executive Officer, CSM Academy International Pte Ltd
  • Emma Li Yuan Yuan Managing Director, SinMetal International Pte Ltd
  • Chanel Choo Foong Yee Managing Director, Machlogic Singapore Pte Ltd

Question: Please tell us about your company and how you started it?

Lynn Chow: CSM Academy International is a private education institute with a focus on healthcare services and science education such as the Certificate in Therapy Services, Certificate in Aged Care, Diploma in Biomedical Science, BSc Nursing, MSc Health Administration and WSQ Diploma in Clinical Research.

We place great emphasis on skills and industrial experience whereby we work with the industries to provide our students with real experiences. CSM Academy International was established in 2005 with the help of my investor friend after my first failed attempt in a training business.

Emma Li Yuan Yuan: SinMetal International Pte Ltd is a one-stop solution centre for all aluminium related product, from design, production to fabrication. We are also the sole agent in Asia for Xingfa Aluminium Holding Ltd, Ningbo Redfir Hi-Tech Board Industry Co Ltd, Kinghing Aluminium Formwork System and IPG Smart Home Pty Ltd.

SinMetal International has been very active in the domestic market with Singapore as its regional hub for the business. Recently, we have been expanding rapidly in Indo-China and South Asia with projects from renowned developers. Our competitive edge comes from the exquisite design of our products and our regional network of clientele.

Chanel Choo Foong Yee: Machlogic is a service provider to offshore industries in maintenance, repair and upgrading of engineering works. I started my first company nine years ago as a ship chandler in repair and supply ship spares and engineering works, that is, lashing gears, repair and re-certificate of spreader bar for both local and overseas customers.

Q: Is it difficult to be a successful woman entrepreneur?

Lynn Chow: I don't think I am successful as yet and in Singapore's modern cosmopolitan society, I don't see being the supposedly weaker gender to be a barrier to success. In my view, a woman running a business does not need to have any special qualities vs a male running a business. As a whole, all entrepreneurs should have a passion for what they are doing, the determination and the perseverance for the long haul.

Emma Li Yuan Yuan: As a lady, it has never been easy to survive in this male dominated industry. On encountering technical issues in the projects, it is difficult to achieve clients' trust as most believe women are weaker. So to prove women are as capable as men, I overcome all these issues by always gaining new knowledge and convincing clients patiently and professionally.

In my humble opinion, market positioning and strategic alliance are very important. A successful entrepreneur must have firm and focused targets. Of course, a good foresight of the future demographic will eventually determine if one is successful. On the other hand, we must treasure those people who care and love us, be it our family, friends or employees.

Chanel Choo Foong Yee: Yes, at the beginning in building up a customer's trust, especially on the technical side. After establishing a proven track record of service and skill set, I have overcome that obstacle and gained customers' respect.

Women entrepreneurs have to be tough and put in extra hard work with perseverance despite difficulties. We must believe that each of us is unique and put aside all criticism whenever we fail. More often than not, people will not help, and instead give you a tough time. That's when we must be strong and independent. Thinking more than talking is the best way to make things work out.

Q: How has winning the One Asia Award helped you in growing your business?

Lynn Chow: The award gives us recognition and is an affirmation of our good standing. This award honours socially responsible SMEs and we are recognised for our various CSR projects where we utilise our strength in healthcare education to provide some free education to the less privileged and our conscious efforts to provide quality education to our students at an affordable fee.

The networking opportunities among fellow entrepreneurs whereby we may find areas for collaboration to help each other and propel our business growth to the next level are also among the benefits of participating in entrepreneurship-promoting awards like the One Asia Awards.

Emma Li Yuan Yuan: Getting the One Asia Award for my company has helped in growing my business as it has increased my public recognition as a business person and widened my network. Among the benefits of participating in entrepreneurship-promoting awards like the One Asia Award is that doing so gives me more opportunities to be exposed to bankers, which is essential for growing a business.

Chanel Choo Foong Yee: Getting the prestigious One Asia Award for my company has enhanced our image. This not only promotes customer confidence, it also promotes our confidence to do even better and grow the business further going forward.

Q: What advice can you give to budding entrepreneurs, especially in view of the slowing economy?

Lynn Chow: Be resilient, resourceful and result-oriented. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted or for those who think that being your own boss is all glory and wealth. You practically work 24 hours in the initial stage, watching the bottom line all the time and in danger of losing it all and going into bankruptcy.

People see the glorious part when your business generates a good profit but they never know the toil and heartaches which went into it and during economic downturns, anything can happen to wipe out whatever profits earned. Hence, be frugal, and use this period to work on improvements, quality standards and establish a stronger foundation so that when the economy recovers, you are able to springboard to the next level immediately.

Emma Li Yuan Yuan: I would say spend more time expanding both suppliers' and clients' bases during such a period, as when the economy recovers there is simply no time to do such a thing.

Chanel Choo Foong Yee: Never give up once you have made up your mind. Be creative and daring. We must rededicate ourselves to our jobs and plan for the next day every morning without a break until success has been achieved.

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