5 Facts of Life as an Entrepreneur (Month #6)

This post has been in my draft box for the longest time. Have been ruminating on my thoughts and trying to find the words to express them accurately (not an Arts student by any means!) Finally, after watching a snippet of a local TV programme yesterday, I think I’ve made some headway.


It was an interview with a 23 year old Karalyn Lee who set up her own patisserie, 51 Fiveone Degrees. She said some stuff which made me go ‘YES high five! Me too!’. Exactly what I felt in the past 6 months as a full time entrepreneur. Here’s a summary.

#1. You work ridiculously long hours.

Being a one (wo)man operation, Karalyn works 18 to 20 hours a day, taking orders and baking cupcakes. I work every single waking hour, weekdays and weekends and public holidays. When I’m not physically making stamps, I am thinking up new designs, replying enquiries and improving my work processes. You are your business, and your business becomes you – even when you’re having a night out with friends.

#2. Do it while you’re young.

This is Karalyn’s first job, at a tender age of 23. I was a little low on resources and courage comparatively, choosing to plunge into the deep end with an oxygen tank which I built up after working for 6 years. You’ll never be fully ready for entrepreneurship, with all its uncertainties. But one thing for sure, the earlier you start, the more energy you have to make it work, and the easier you’ll be able to bounce back.

#3. You have to keep improving.

With all the 1001 other cupcake shops everywhere, Karalyn needs to come up with a Unique Selling Proposition that makes her cupcakes enticing to consumers. This means research, new flavours and textures. For me, new designs, new products, improved packaging, etc. In today’s world, staying stagnant means you’ll soon be made obsolete by new trends.

#4. Quality over quantity.

Karalyn was insistent that she will not set up other outlets even when her business grows big, to ensure that the quality of her cupcakes are always top-notch. Scalability is always a hurdle for handmade businesses. You want to make more to sell more, but you have only 24 hours a day to make your products. Consider outsourcing non-essential work so that you have more time to work on the quality of things that matter.

#5. Prove yourself right and others will follow suit.

People who used to make fun of Karalyn about her poor academic results started talking nicely to her after she made progress in her career. There will always be naysayers who doubt your choices and secretly wish you’ll fail, so they feel better about themselves. Let them be – it doesn’t matter what they think. This is your business, this is about YOU. Work harder than you’ve ever been, and strive to be better than you were yesterday. Even if your business does not work out the way you wanted, even if you eventually had to return to a regular job, your experience will still make you better off than 80% of the population who are too afraid to try anything new.

Are you an entrepreneur or thinking of becoming one? What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments box below! 🙂

P.S. Check out 51 Fiveone Degrees for famous cupcakes! They are located at Blk 203 Toa Payoh North #01-1113 S(310203) and are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.


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