Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chiu Yen Irina Tan, Founder of Multiple Careers, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I help people escape the rat race and pursue a life of multiple careers. I believe that everyone can pursue several careers in a lifetime. In doing this, they can become their best selves and more fulfilled. People who watch my content are stuck in jobs they are miserable in. Secretly, they long to do work they love, and that's meaningful, but they don't know how to make a change. Through my videos, blog posts, and book 'Multiple Careers: Quit the Rat Race, Pursue Fulfilling Work', I share mindsets and methods to get unstuck, make real changes, and move closer to the fulfilling life they want.
Tell us about yourself
My business developed straight from my frustrations with work and the answers I found to these. After a few years of working in my high-paying banking job, I burnt out and questioned my career choices. I revisited my childhood passion for acting and concocted an exit plan to leave the financial industry after another 2 years. I got some acting gigs and loved them entirely, but I was tired of waiting for jobs. So I took matters into my own hands and started producing my own films. I was able to use my management skills from my time in banking to become a Producer. Making films was exhilarating, but the process was extremely complicated. I then shifted to making short-form content on youtube. It gave me the chance to share my experience of changing careers with other people. And that's how my Multiple Careers channel was born.
When I was working in my ill-fitted financial job, I was always irritated and felt a lack of meaning. But over the last 10 years, I've become a completely different person. I've learned to become more attuned to what I find interesting and meaningful and developed the courage to listen to that voice and take action. I've also found methods for how you can pursue several careers instead of confining yourself to one. Nowadays, I am pursuing the kind of career in which I thrive. I get to manage my own time. I can decide what projects to work on and not and express my creativity.
But most important of all, I found meaning in my work. Through my content, I help people who are where I was 10 years ago. People who want out and do something completely different and just need a little nudge or support. Thinking of how I can make a difference in their lives, and inspire them to get on their feet and start making a change right now, is what gets me going.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When I go through the comments section and read that my video changed someone's mindset about work, inspired them to pursue work they love, or helped them deal with a frustrating career decision, I feel most accomplished. I am making money doing something that I not only enjoy but that makes a real impact on other people. In the past, I would never have thought that contributing to other people's lives would be this fulfilling.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing for me is not the work itself or the technical challenges. Those are all things that can be solved. One of the hardest things is to keep going at times when I don't see the results I want. Growing a business is like growing a bamboo plant. It takes years for the roots to establish, and you don't see anything of the plant. But once it sprouts, it grows very fast, up to 80 or 90 meters high. When you put a lot of time, energy, and money into your business and don't see immediate results, it can test your patience and resolve. At that point, you just need to continue the process, invest in your business and trust that the results will come and even accelerate soon enough. There were several times when I was close to giving up, e.g., before my channel got monetized and then before I earned my first dollars. Every time I had to straighten out my mind and remind myself that success or anything worthwhile doesn't come easy. So far, that mindset has paid off!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't underestimate the time it takes to grow or even just start a business. If you tell yourself, "I'm going to start a business in 3 years", then it means you need to start now. You might think that there's no time to start now because you are still working full-time and that you'll start later. But there are a ton of things you can get started while still working full-time, including doing research, getting funding, and experimenting. Granted, you have limited time when you're still working, but if you use that time well, you'll have a better start once you quit your job for good.
- Make use of time (and resource constraints). Don't give yourself forever to start, and don't push it to 'later' because later will never come. If you plan to quit your job to focus on your business, set yourself a timeline, and stick to it. E.g., give yourself 2 years to maximize your earnings and savings in your day job while preparing your business launch in the evenings and weekends. The limited time will give you the pressure you need to get going. If you don't set yourself a firm timeline, chances are that you'll never start and always find excuses not to do it.
- Don't think you need to have a 'final' product before launching it to the market. In all likelihood, the first product you launch will be 'version 1' that will need to be tweaked and adapted to the market's needs. Don't wait until your product is perfect; instead, try to bring a part of your product to the market and get feedback. Your product will need to evolve with the needs of the customers.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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