Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
I admire Bill Gates for his ingenuity that has led him to revolutionize the technology world. Most importantly, I admire his strong initiative for giving back to the community through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the world, founded by him and his wife, Melinda Gates. The foundation has spent billions to help some of the world’s poorest countries.
I also admire Mark Zuckerberg who has built a company that changed the way people connect. Together with his wife Priscilla Chan, they have inspired people around the world by creating The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and committing 99 percent of their wealth to taking on challenges like improving education, curing disease, connecting people, and building strong communities. In fact, they recently made an announcement that they will dedicate $3 billion over the next several years to help fight and cure disease.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
The best piece of business advice that has helped shape me as an entrepreneur is not to be afraid of failure. It is inevitable that we will fail at something, but how we respond to such failure is what matters the most. It is important to view your failures as learning opportunities to become better at what you do.
The fear of failure causes you to turn down opportunities that could help your business grow. Of course, it is important to be smart about your business, but for growth, taking risks is important. It is important to get past your fear of failure so you don’t hold your business back.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I think one of my most important learnings in business is that it is important not only to manage time but it’s even more important to manage your energy at work.
Your energy limits what you can do with your time, so it’s important to manage it wisely. It’s important to work with a high life condition, take care of your health and personal needs. It is important to maintain a good work-life balance. My husband, two daughters and my spiritual beliefs give me the positive energy to work in my business.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I spend the first hour planning my day and reviewing my to-do list. I try to review the things that I have to do and the things I would like to achieve. If I start my day without clarity of high priority tasks, I may end up procrastinating by working on less important and timely things.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
In my opinion, it is important to keep in mind that you don’t want to run out of cash even before you get your startup off the ground, so you need to calculate and closely monitor your cash burn. If you’re bootstrapping, an efficient way to lower your cash spend is to outsource non-core functions such as human resources, accounting and finance, design, web development, etc. Outsourcing, rather than hiring, can help you save significantly and, in turn, reduce your cost structure.
Also, today, entrepreneurs are no longer confined to a local geography when building a new business. Start-ups should look at building global teams and capitalize on the lower cost of resources available world-over.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Face your fears.
Overcoming fear isn’t easy, but it must be done. Arianna Huffington once said that she found fearlessness was like a muscle — the more she exercised it, the stronger it became.
I have learned that we should not be afraid of taking risks. I learned this when I took the risk of changing the direction and strategy of Marriage.com which was previously running a wedding site. Rather than focus on weddings, which is one day in a person’s life, we decided to change the focus to marriage which is a lifetime event. We rebuilt the website entirely to reflect this change in direction and strategy. A year later, we relaunched to provide expert advice, trusted resources and positive information about all things marriage. It’s already been a great journey and things are looking very promising.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
To be satisfied in your life, it is important to do work that you truly believe in. I had a sincere desire to work in an area that added meaningful value to people’s lives and provided support to people. I went with my gut and instinct to re-launch the site and I think believing in the need for something like this was my inspiration and motivation to move forward.
I always had the desire to work in an area that could add meaningful value to people’s lives. There was a phase in my life when people close to my heart were really suffering in their relationships, which either led them to get a divorce, separate or just be married for the sake of it and live together despite no emotional or physical connection.
It was around that phase in my life when my husband and I came across the opportunity to acquire the assets of the company (through a business network), which then operated as a wedding site. Rather than focus on weddings, which is one day in a person’s life, we decided to change the focus to marriage, which is intended to be a lifetime event. We rebuilt the website entirely to reflect this change in direction and strategy. One year later, we re-launched to provide expert advice, trusted resources and positive information about all things marriage. Success to me means, providing meaningful value in people’s life.