Category Archives: NTUC

Tips For Every Young Business Owner

Not young anymore, I sometimes ponder about the sustainability of everything I am doing as I have always been doing my own thing like blogging and handling my own business.

Blogging came naturally to me, it started off as a hobby out of my love for writing but later developed into a profession. Even though I love being a blogger, it is not sustainable to be a full time blogger. Besides my love for blogging, I am also passionate about fashion and beauty. Hence, I decided to launch a women’s fashion online store. I had a goal and plan in mind that I was going to execute. I started this online store with my ex school mate and best friend who was based in Indonesia. My online store is based in both Indonesia and Singapore. I hope to expand my business to the rest of Asia.

I did not disclose to anyone I was an online store owner as I wanted to keep work and my online public persona separate mainly because I did not want my public persona to affect business or work in any way. Honestly, I do not think it matters any more as my store is doing pretty well despite being a two months old business. Being an online store owner, the natural transition was to expand the business into a brick and mortar store however I knew it was not going to be easy to transit over smoothly.

As a young and green business owner, I do wish for guidance from more experienced business owners, hoping they could provide useful insight to my business.

Recently I was introduced to e2i through the SME Symposium 2017, an event held by NTUC that specifically targets SMEs to share insights and strategies with business leaders to address the economic challenges and uncertainties ahead..

e2i is an initiative of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to help workers get better jobs and pay via Placement, Professional Development (aka Training) and Productivity.

Graphic: e2i as an enabler (Source: e2i)

For example, e2i offers hiring, training and productivity solutions to businesses to redesign jobs to be easier, smarter and safer, with businesses sharing productivity gains with staff in the form of higher wages.

Since 2008, e2i has also assisted more than 500,000 individuals with career guidance, professional development, and job matching services.

At the e2i breakout sessions for food and retail during the SME Symposium, some businesses shared how e2i actually helped them in their manpower and productivity issues.

Room full of people during the symposium.

Besides having a strong interest and passion in fashion, I am also keen to dabble into the F&B sector hence this session was very useful because I got to learn from big players in the industry like Pine Garden, Crystal Jade and Paradise Group.

Mr Benjamin Yang, Managing Director of Novitee Pte Ltd sharing session featuring Pine Garden, Crystal Jade and Paradise Group.

The retail breakout session at the SME symposium also covered some really amazing tips on how to successfully open and run a retail store, and gave examples of retail businesses which successfully worked with e2i to overcome their productivity, manpower crunch and staff retention challenges..

As a business owner, I find it very important that we look out for opportunities especially during this turbulent period where the economy isn’t looking positive.

Mr Andrew Tan, Owner of Atomi Pte Ltd sharing on the art and science of visual merchandising.

And of course, having picked up these useful tips, I thought it would be great to share with fellow business owners out there! So if you are a young and green business owner like I am, check out these tips:

  1. To deal with the changing market trends, every business should have an e-commerce store to handle a different point of sales.
Source: Johong e-commerce platform

Johong Hardware and Paints is a 25-year-old company which tapped on e2i’s Inclusive Growth Programme to invest in their own e-commerce platform

The e-commerce platform helps Johong staff to keep up with customer habits and push out Johong’s products and services to customers who prefer to shop online.

2.Every business should own their own Inventory Management System as not having one can be very time consuming and error prone. And invest in systems which can link up seamlessly with each other.

Johong had more than 1,000 different items in stock, which was tiring for staff who had to manually count stock before placing any new orders. Management representatives had to make physical visits to the different stores to collect the daily earnings and sales reports.

With e2i’s Inclusive Growth Programme, Johong implemented a more efficient inventory management system to keep track of its inventory in all stores, saving six man-days per month on stocktaking alone.

Source: NTUC

The inventory management system could also be synchronised with Johong’s stores’ point-of-sales system (POS). So now Johong can track both inventory and live sales reports, saving at last two man-hours daily from store visits.

The best part (for customers) is that this system’s capabilities also include customer management via a store membership programme with discounts for members. With all these productivity gains, 8 Johong staff enjoyed wage increases of 10.6%.

3. For better efficiency in the store, seriously consider an integrated system like the ERP system

In the past, Yankee Candle struggled to sync data from 3 separate systems: POS/inventory, accounting/finance and membership form-filling system. The stock taking and sales tracking were also not synced in real time.

Source: NTUC

In 2014, the company tapped on e2i’s Inclusive Growth Programme to acquire an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that integrates a point of sale system, the company’s inventory, human resource information, customer relationship management and accounts.

I am already thinking of getting the Inventory Management System and the ERP system for my online business to improve efficiency.

  1. To empower your staff with industry knowledge,you can sign up your staff for masterclasses and work with e2i on Place-and-Train schemes and Professional Development.

Mothercare Singapore, which has over 500 full-time employees, has been sending its staff for e2i retail masterclasses and is working closely with e2i to Place-and-Train skilled Sales Advisors.

Mothercare is also embarking on a company-wide Professional Development initiative with e2i which will empower several hundred staff in its Singapore and overseas businesses in areas such as communications and emotional intelligence.

Running a retail business is getting more challenging, so if you want a leg up to improve on your business’ productivity and empower your staff with the right skills to prepare your business for the future, you can turn to e2i for advice.