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Reflection on 2019: Challenges and Lessons

Posted by in Inspiration, Inspiration, Latest News, PR

Last year, I co-founded the Chinese Mums in Business Club with my amazing co-founder, Xiaofang Sutton. Our vision is to inspire Chinese mums (or any mums) in business to reach their potential. 

In this blog, I would like to share my top three challenges and lessons learnt, as a mum of two young boys and a business owner of 11K Consulting, over the past 12 months.   

1.     It’s all up to you  

I gave birth to my second son in July this year and went back to work (starting with part-time) after a three-month maternity leave, which is considered fairly short by most people in the UK. Some colleagues and mums questioned me why I went back to work so early, while some admired me for having the “courage” to leave my baby behind and go back to work so early. 

The simple truth is that I wanted to go back to work. I love my job. I am glad to be back to work, which does seem a “little holiday” to me as I can have my own quiet time to do some work and meet people. 

As a working mum, I do encourage other mums not to feel “bad” at returning to work early, if this is what you love and what you want. 

It is so important to keep a work-life balance. Moreover, it means not having children to overtake your life or career. Happy mums make happy kids. It is also good for children to understand that money doesn’t fall from the sky and we (parents) need to work in order to earn money and pay the bills. That’s what my 3.5-year-old elder son says when I need to attend work events in the evenings these days: “Mummy needs to go to work to earn money… so I can go on holidays.” 

It is never a struggle; instead it is a choice and intention to find out and become who we truly are. Do whatever make you feel contented and fulfilled. Ask your partner to share the housework. Delegate whatever you can (e.g. house cleaning, dish washing, ironing, etc.) to make time to do what you enjoy doing. 

2.     Every crisis lies an opportunity 

Running a business is always full of ups and downs, and probably even more so when you know you are going to be absent from your business for a few weeks and even for a few months, which can sound nerve-racking. 

Before I went on maternity leave in the summer, I was quite worried about how the team and the company would function without me, how we could keep the clients happy without me. I thought I was the most important person in the company, but in truth, it was such a blessing in disguise that I was absent from work for a few months in order to gain a better visibility of our strengths and weaknesses, and hence be able to improve the company in a long run. 

Planning is key to minimise risks and maximise opportunities. For this second maternity leave, I was lucky and dared to ask for help early enough, to have my utterly supportive business mentor, Kit Chong, to look after my company and the team while I was away. 

There were minor problems and lessons, but we had done our very best not to drop the ball. I am pleased to say that we hit our sales target and achieved a 40% year-on-year growth this year. When I was away during my maternity leave, problems that were not obvious before surfaced, for example, we needed someone more senior to advise clients. It is insightful to know early what the business needs more, or less of, in order to improve and grow to the next level. Despite my temporary absence, 11K did come out to be stronger as a result. 

In every crisis lies a great opportunity. Seize the opportunity! 

3.     Prioritise your priority   

As a mum of two young boys, a business owner, a wife, and self, life is busy, all the time. Non-stop. From time to time, I do wonder: Why am I pushing myself so hard? What do I want? What really makes me happy and fulfilled? 

Prioritise my priority. 

As I turned 37 years old last month, I do realise that it is so important to prioritise what really matters in life and at work (without giving up on sleeping too much). Over the past few years, I have become better at and still need to be better at saying ‘no’ to things that do not serve my purposes. I still need to be better at protecting my sanity. In the midst of chaos, I do my best to create my own total, me-time moments every day, even just for a short five minutes a day. 

In the new year, besides working hard and growing 11K, I promised myself to make time to attend an educational event or workshop to learn something new once a month, to write whenever I can, to swim every week, to contribute more to the Chinese Mums in Business Club, and to re-join my Toastmasters (public speaking) club when my second child turns one year old in July next year. That will all make me a very happy and fulfilled person. 🙂 

Thank you 2019 which has shaped me to become a better businessperson, a mum and self. 

Thank you sincerely to everyone who has given me your generous support, wisdom and love this year.  To name a few, I would love to give my big thank you to my family, Kit, my team, Daisy, Adrian, Mei Sim, Andrew, Laura, Chris, Andy, Xiaofang, Siqi, Freuds, my wonderful cleaner and babysitter Stella, and many others. 

I look forward to an even more fulfilling 2020. 

Last but not least, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

All the best wishes, 

Sally x 

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Sally Maier-Yip is the MD and Founder at 11K. She is a seasoned cross-cultural Public Relations Strategist with a mission to help ambitious companies grow in China, Hong Kong and the UK.

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