In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
Meet Michelle Lam (The Little Black Book Pte Ltd)
Tell us a little about yourself.
A Business Administration graduate from Hawaii Pacific University with Marketing as my major, I started The Little Black Book Pte Ltd (TLBB) with a client who put his faith in my potential and capabilities. I saw an opportunity with the rise of social media, online and mobile platforms and started focusing on video (long and short form) to suit today’s digital sphere and attention deficit audiences.
TLBB is a home-grown uptrend motion graphics company reputed for its engaging digital campaigns and strong social media track record. It has accumulated a wealth of experience and gained extensive expertise with a wide-ranging portfolio of projects from private sector companies to government constituencies, covering brands from beauty to technology, lifestyle to public service. It is no doubt TLBB has struck a chord with their creative services. One of its best-kept secrets and success lies with its lesser taken projects and clients in less popular industries.
What got you started on your business?
It was a combination of working in a bureaucratic environment and the urge to do something new and different that finally drove me to leave my position even without another job offer.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
I was a Regional Account Director for leading advertising companies.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
I had no experience as an entrepreneur. I knew how to do my job back when I was working in an advertising firm but when it came to running a business, I was clueless. Being the boss means having to know all there is to know – admin matters, IT, hiring, managing, sales, finance, operations and business development – in the shortest amount of time possible. I had to constantly update my knowledge on the industry and learn everything by doing.
Every decision that has a cost factor has to be thoughtfully made. For years, I reinvested the profits of the company by compounding, in preparation for rainy days. My dad always says that the bank is there for you when times are good and never there for you when times bad, so I learnt to be very careful with money.
Owning and running a small business is anything but easy. Even the simplest of organisations face complex challenges. It’s one thing to know that overcoming challenges will lead to growth, but quite another to face it head-on. TLBB has been in business for 12 years. There are many times when giving up seemed like the better option, but I persevered. When I ran into roadblocks, I became self-critical, thinking that I did not have what it took to succeed. The reality, though, is that this is a common struggle among all entrepreneurs. Just because things are tough doesn’t make you any less of a leader, nor does it mean you’re destined to fail. I am proud of myself for having the grit to keep going, even during the darkest hours. I have a great team and if I were to give up, I would be letting them down. This keeps me going every day.
Running a company can be really difficult. These are some things I do to help myself overcome all types of challenges:
- Continuously improving myself in leadership skills, in staying up-to-date with my industry, and in studying the economy. I use all my extra free time to study. I study by reading books and listening to podcasts.
- I stay in touch with people who are better than I am. Each encounter with them is a valuable learning opportunity.
- I try to keep an open mind and dabble in new things. We are creatures of comfort and like to keep to the familiar, but sometimes the only way to progress is to do something different.
- I guard my alone time fiercely. I use it to reflect on the day and think of how I can improve for tomorrow.
- I bootstrapped my business to where it is today. Resources have always been tight. I try to be masterful at sales so I don’t have to worry too much about expenditure. Many organizations will invest in cheap swag. While some of these may benefit you in the short term, true culture is born out of taking the time to understand who you are, and making strategic purchases based on needs that align with the company’s goals.
Who inspires you?
Youngme Moon, Mihir Desai, and Felix Oberholzer-Gee.
What excites you most about your industry?
Nothing is ever the same.
What is your vision / personal motto?
Smile More, Care Less. One of my goals and aspirations is to create a foundation from TLBB’s success and use it for the greater good. I also dream of buying an island to keep abandoned animals.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
Be prepared to sacrifice time away from friends and family. Know your exit plan. Build grit and strong mental strength. Be optimistic, always. Love yourself.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
By Sharing and Connecting.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
“I love you completely. And you loved me the same. That’s all. The rest is confetti.” This is a quote from the series The Haunting of Hill House. It might be from a horror show but I think it’s lovely and very applicable to business and life. In business, there are also plenty of distractions that can sidetrack growth. Focus is very important. Focus on what truly matters to your business. Focus on customers who share the same values and don’t try too hard for those that are transactional. Same with life.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
The day I was born and the day I discovered my purpose.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
During my free time, I would read, cook, be with close friends, and Netflix.
Let us know more about what you do!
The Little Black Book (TLBB) has been creating gripping graphics and arresting animation that spans over a hundred brands from food to transport, SMEs to government organizations.
You may find us featured CNA93.8, e27.co, thewellnessinsider, simonlim.personality.
Connect with The Little Black Book Pte Ltd!
10 winners can stand a chance to win ‘Life is Meaningless’ worth $169! A guide to navigating your seemingly purposeless existence and finding meaning through nihilism. This beautifully illustrated book will inspire you to change your perspective and take charge of your own happiness! Head over to The Ladies Cue Instagram to participate!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Margaret Wu, For Beloved One
- Hong Choy Yin, Tots Society
- Pearline Foo, Spring Breeze Marketing
- Evangeline Leong, Kobe
- Maddy Barber, Madly Gems
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Nadia, HelloBello (Malaysia)
- Zairin Azman, UMMA (Malaysia)
The rest of the Fempreneur interviews can be found here.