- Business Insider/ Joey Lee
Most of us look forward to the weekends to unwind but for Ms Cynthia Loy and Ms Daphne Choy, both 23, that’s when work really heats up.
They pull some 15-hour work shifts at their relatively new Rangoon Road establishment called Enchanted Cafe, dealing with crowds which show up for their caffeine and brunch fix.
Opened on March 25, the cafe showcases its owners’ eye for detail – they came up with the design for the interior and built most of it by hand.
Even the items on the menu are carefully curated: There’s a drink called the Sorcerer’s Exilir ($9.90) which changes colour as it’s stirred with dry ice vapour pouring out of it.
Ms Loy graduated late last year with a degree in commerce, while Ms Choy is due to graduate soon with a degree in business management.
If you’re thinking of becoming starting your business, here are some learning points from them that you’ll want to take heed of too.
Don’t lord over your staff
Be prepared for “servant-leadership”, where the power pyramid is turned upside down – no longer can employers build a successful business model solely by exerting power and control.
That’s because these days, employees are more than ready to jump ship in a heartbeat.
Speaking about the difficulties of hiring other millennials like themselves, Ms Loy said: “People in our generation don’t like it if someone comes on too strong on us. (They) need to be convinced in order to do what you want them to do.”
Referring to the F&B industry, she added: “It’s actually very easy for people to just find another job so that kind of old style dominance doesn’t work.”
Learn from the experiences of those around you
Ms Loy revealed that it was an unexpected retrenchment of a family member as well as her lack of personal commitments at the time, that compelled her to say ‘yes’ to starting the business. But she did this after deliberating for months on end.
Citing an unstable and insecure job market as push factors that led her to choose the path of entrepreneurship, Ms Loy said: “It’s something I’m thankful for – that we don’t have to walk certain paths in order to learn certain things.
“We got to see the people around us and learn from their experience.”
Bring your hobbies into the workspace – the results might surprise you
An avid guitar player who enjoys singing, Ms Loy recounted a comedic episode where a customer randomly asked her to sing. She kept a guitar in the cafe that caught his attention.
“The customer was like: ‘If you sing, I’ll buy two cups of coffee’,” she recounted with a smile.
“So I said: ‘Okay I don’t mind either way if you buy or not’. Then (when I had finished singing) he said: ‘two lattes please’.”
Ms Choy was able to pour her artistic talents into transforming the once-plain space into an Instagram-worthy hotspot.
She decided to put her interest in design and photo editing to good use but coming up with the cafe’s logo. She even handpicked the mismatched chairs to adorn the seating area.
Both women said they split the work to leverage on their strengths.
Be aware of legal redtape
As every new entrepreneur will attest to, starting a business from scratch can be a daunting feat, especially when it comes to applying for licences to get the business off the ground.
Ms Choy said: “We didn’t know what the process was, so everything got messed up.”
One of the biggest hurdles both women had to overcome, was converting the previous licence for the space they rented, from that of retail store to a F&B outlet.
This alone, took half a year to execute.
“That’s why we dragged (the opening) for so long; even though we got this shop in October, we only officially opened in March”
They may have made mistakes along the way but they have no regrets.
Ms Loy said: “If not now, then when?”
The owners of Enchanted Cafe has made some clarifications and this has been reflected. (July 17)