Character & Soul, Deborah Tan, Entrepreneurship, Money, Opinions, Self-Improvement

I’m Sorry! But I WANT TO WORK For My Money! – Deborah Tan

Deborah Tan does not agree with ads that promise you a 5-figure salary while working from home selling “nothing”.

Busy as a bee but happy!

Busy as a bee but happy!

I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on Facebook. Ads that go, and I quote them verbatim: “Ever thought it is possible you can make money online without selling anything?”; “Learn how a struggling Singaporean employee makes $20k/month from home in his spare time”; and, “Thousands of people are quitting their jobs and joining our popular online work program.”

Were you tempted to find out more? At the very least, I’m sure you went, “What?!? For real?” For me, after the curiosity, I just went, “Sorry. Not for me.”

Perhaps, in 10 years’ time, all the people who have signed up to these programs would look at me and laugh at me for being a cynical fool. Perhaps, in 10 years’ time, I will still be slogging my ass off working as a freelance writer. Perhaps, in 10 years’ time, I will be the poorest person in Singapore … but, I will not regret not signing up for these “courses”, “seminars” and “workshops”.

Why?

1. If it sounds too good to be true …
… it probably is.  Out of curiosity, I clicked on one of these Facebook ads just to check out their website to see if I can find more information about these programs. I was brought to a page asking me to enter my email address. No. Just no. You see, if I wanted to sign up for an MBA program, the school’s website will tell me details about the coursework, tell me what I can expect, etc. But this website doesn’t want to tell me anything until I give them my contact detail. Are you selling my email address? Are you just another layer in a massive multilevel marketing scheme in the business of collecting email addresses? WHAT ARE YOU? WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO TELL ME MORE UPFRONT?

2. There is no shame in work
What I hate most about these ads is this picture they paint: that you can just do jack-shit, just click on your mouse all day long … and wait for money to roll in. If you set up a hawker stall and sell prawn mee, you know that $5 you earn comes from something tangible. If you set up an ecommerce website selling headphones, you know what exactly is earning you a living. For me, my product is Material World, a content agency and a website. Every piece of writing I put out for my clients, I know how I’m being paid. I am proud of my work and I really don’t agree with this whole “sell nothing, do very little” way of making money.

3. There is an inherent integrity problem
A few days ago, a friend posted up on Facebook how his picture has been used by one of these work-from-home programs for its Facebook ad. The picture of him standing next to a car is a great image of a young Singaporean who has achieved the trappings of success. Hey! But guess what? He didn’t sign up for this program. They had simply pluck his picture from somewhere and used it without his permission! This incident further cemented my belief that there is more than meets the eye here. If people are really becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams with your program, why don’t you just use their photos and stories instead?

I know that in order to be a successful businessperson, I have to find a business model that’ll eventually allow me to make passive income, something that will keep earning me money even if I go on a holiday or when I’m asleep. But I want to be able to grow my business using a product I have built, that will add ACTUAL VALUE to other people’s lives. Just blindly signing up for a program takes away that pride, that ownership that make up the core of entrepreneurship!

If you have no choice but to work from home, if you have no choice but to really consider one of these programs, I urge you to do your homework. It shouldn’t have to demand for an upfront payment of a large sum of money. It shouldn’t demand a percentage of your earnings to be channeled up towards your “supervisor” or “mentor”. You should be able to see if the business allows you to be different and unique from the 678 other people who have also signed up to do it – and we don’t mean just by changing the name of your company.

Like I’ve said before … call me a fool, call me stubborn, call me stupid … but I really rather become rich by working hard, really hard.

I want to get my hands dirty.

I want to get my hands dirty.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She doesn’t respect anyone whose wealth came to them easy. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Character & Soul, Entrepreneurship, Money, Self-Improvement

The 4 “Mistakes” I Want To Make As An Entrepreneur – Deborah Tan

Everyone who wants to start a business these days keeps talking about claiming the PIC Bonus. Deborah Tan wants aspiring entrepreneurs to know that there is nothing wrong with good, honest work.

Passive income = the ultimate entrepreneur goal?

Passive income = the ultimate entrepreneur goal?

How would you start a business? Would you bootstrap your business, i.e, fund it out of your own pocket? Borrow money from your relatives? Or, try to get investors to put money into your venture? For many of us small business owners, we often take the first option. We dig deep into our pockets to fund the venture, go without a salary until it starts to turn a profit and, dollar by dollar, we build up the business.

While many “business gurus” may turn their nose up at the idea of “starting small”, as a year-old entrepreneur, I must say, I prefer to grow my business step-by-step. There is a certain pride in seeing your business prosper gradually and you are much more aware of what it means to “take ownership”. For instance, I have been advised by many people on the many different ways one can employ to claim the PIC Bonus: from setting up many versions of one business (because every business is “entitled” to claim up to $15,000 in PIC Bonus) to paying a huge sum for a basic ecommerce website, which is something you can easily set up for FREE. Although the methods are all not illegal, they are certainly what I – after much thought – am uncomfortable with.

Articles abound about the “mistakes” first-time entrepreneurs tend to make, most of them about why we spend too much time working and not enough of it growing our wealth. While some I agree with, often, I find myself questioning why these so-called “mistakes” are bad. People have asked if I hated money but I simply just can’t agree with these:

1. “Mistake 1” – Not Paying Someone To Do Your Nitty-Gritty For You
Yes, all of us who come out to be our own bosses would love nothing more than to lay claim to the fact that we have minions running around doing our shit for us. Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t want to say, “Get your people to call my people.” But leaving a job to “become your own boss” also means you are now your own employee. I like to think that by being able to take care of my own taxes, manage my own timetable, chase down my own payments, I’m getting acquainted to the unglamorous side of what it means to be a business owner. When you can finally afford to pay a part-timer to take care of your things, you will also know what is the real work involved so you won’t be held at the mercy of an admin person.

Be careful of hidden traps!

Be careful of hidden traps!

2. “Mistake 2” – Not Willing To Pay Money To Grow Money
I recognize that for a business to grow, investments have to be made. However, I think investments have to be worthwhile and made in an ethical way. I am uncomfortable with paying someone $15,000 for something that is actually worth $3,000, just so I can make a maximum claim on the PIC Bonus. I’ve been told, “Once you see all that money in your bank account, you will look at things differently.” I hope I never will have to.

3. “Mistake 3” – You Can’t Take Care Of Everything
If it’s my business, I want to know everything – from the product I’m selling to the licensing issues it faces to the profile of the customer who consumes my product. Sure, you should have partners who possess skills and traits that make up for what you don’t have but it doesn’t mean you just leave whatever you don’t want to do to them. You can take care of everything, you just don’t have to do it all. It’s called “taking ownership”. “Taking ownership” means whenever someone has a query about your business, you have all the most basic answers at your fingertips.

4. “Mistake 4” – No-Risk Is Good 
There are many business opportunities out there that allow you to take up the basic template and run with it. They call it no-risk because there is a set pattern you can use to build your business. But the only person who is getting rich out of it all is the one who is selling this same business template to hundreds of people out there. Unique ideas are hard to get off the ground and yes, you may fail. However, if you are really serious about your business, you will want to channel your investments into the things that make you DIFFERENT, not Xeroxed ideas that you can tweak only slightly to set you apart from the crowd.

I realize that it may sound idealistic of me to say that making money is less important than doing things right. However, I can’t emphasize how crucial it is to not go into business simply because you hope, eventually, that the passive income will let you live out the rest of your life in comfort. You still need to have a basic respect for WORK – good, honest work. You can’t just think, “I’ll set this up, sit back and watch money roll in.” If you think the first and foremost thing about business is PASSIVE INCOME, you are truly making a very big mistake.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She recognizes that she may never be rich but at least she is proud of her business. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Character & Soul, Deborah Tan, Entrepreneurship, Opinions, Self-Improvement

When You Have Been Listed as “Competition” – Deborah Tan

Do you get upset whenever someone says you’re their competitor? Deborah Tan says you shouldn’t and in fact, you should learn to see it in a more positive way.

armwrestlingI used to cringe at the words “competitor” and “competition”. Why? Well, let’s just say I’m the sort who would pick running a marathon over a 100m sprint just because in the former, you are encouraged to “run your own race”. And even though many of my friends have described me as a competitive person, my brand of competitiveness focuses on improving myself rather than taking people down.

Recently, a friend brought up how her boss told her that we – Material World – are their “competitors” and she was therefore not allowed to do business with us. It didn’t come as a shock – we weren’t expecting to be received with open arms in the first place. But what surprised me was how well (as in, I didn’t lose sleep over it) I took the news.

In another life, I would have taken to being called a “competitor” very badly. It would have hurt my feelings to know that there was a person out there who thought my presence in his life was unwanted, a nuisance, and something to be crushed. The old Deborah would have wanted to find out how I could go back to being “liked” by this person, I would have done all I could to be viewed as an ally, a friend, and a partner.

As I mulled over what my friend told me, something lit up inside me. Her boss had, unexpectedly, paid us the ultimate compliment.

The Unexpected Compliment
When and why do we see someone else as competition?

Imagine this: You’re dating a guy and you find out another woman has her sights set on him. Upon further investigation, you discover that (1) she’s not attractive (2) her personality isn’t that great either and (3) she’s just not his type. Would you worry? Would you see her as a worthy competitor?

To call someone your competitor, you are actually paying that person a compliment. You are:

1. Telling her that she’s doing something right

2. Telling her that she worries you

3. Telling her that you are thinking about her more than you care to admit

You only see someone as the competition when you feel threatened.

Are You Afraid?
Predictably, most people react to competition the same way Margaret Chan’s character in Masters Of The Sea, an old TV series in the 90s, would – crush them like a cockroach. While loathing and despise are two of the emotions most of us would bear towards our competitors, the one we don’t like to acknowledge is FEAR. Fear that the competition would do better, fear that the competition would prove us wrong, and fear that the competition would make us irrelevant. The more negatively we approach competition, the more it shows how great our fear towards it.

Cos honestly, there are more than enough love to go around ...

Cos honestly, there are more than enough love to go around …

Dealing With Competition In A Healthy Way
There is definitely a better, healthier way to deal with competition. Lisa Firestone, Ph.D, on Psychology Today states that, “… feeling competitive is 100 percent natural, and it is impossible to avoid it. The trouble comes when we start to express these feelings by lashing out at others or turning on ourselves. … Listening to and acting on our critical inner voice is the worst thing we can do when we feel competitive.”

To deal with competition in a clean and healthy way, Firestone recommends these steps:

1. Accept the competitive thought for what it is. Don’t rationalize or justify it. Allow yourself to take pleasure the angry thought. We are all just only human.

2. While competitive thoughts are acceptable because we are not infallible, being cruel to someone is not. Don’t start building a case against the person you’re feeling competitive with. Learn to let go.

3. Compete by challenging your inner critical voice, and not by diminishing the worth of the other person. Why try to slow your competitor down when you should aim to be faster and better?

One of the questions I’ve always hated answering is, “Who do you see as your competition?” If you have ever asked me this, you will know one of my favorite answers is, “There’s no competition because there is no one like me.” I never believe in competing with other people because I believe I am unique and what I have to offer is always going to be different. I believe in being the best I can be so people would find it hard to one-up me. To my friend’s boss, I would like to end this by assuring you that, as always, my greatest competitor is myself and while I thank you for seeing me as your competitor, I would like to say you’re definitely not mine.

Have a great week ahead!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She doesn’t believe in spending her time plotting and scheming to take the competition down, she believes in getting so far ahead, no one can catch up. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

 

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