Better access to education, technological advancements, innovations and mindset shifts have led to many unprecedented new norms. In one particular area, millennial women are taking center-stage, leading nations and large corporations as leaders, philanthropists and entrepreneurs. Labelled as spoilt and self-entitled, there are actually more than meets the eye.
Born with a free and gregarious spirit, these young millennial entrepreneurs value diversity, inclusivity and gender equality. They embrace a more non-typical leadership style, tech-savvy and value work-life balance. To find out the driving force behind our women millennials, Marketing in Asia speaks to Huda Hamid, Co-founder of Fempreneur Secrets, to find out her challenges, motivations, and inspirations.
Hey Huda. Glad to have you here on Marketing in Asia. Let’s start by getting to know more about you. I noticed that you started your entrepreneurship journey at the age of 16! Share with our readers how you got started, your passion, and your entrepreneurship journey.
Actually, my first exploration into entrepreneurship began at 8 years old where I made and sold friendship bands to my friends during recess at a profit. At 16, I worked for my father and used the money to invest in scrapbooking materials and produced my first set of handmade notebooks for sale. During school holidays and weekends, I took part in mini entrepreneurship projects by setting up stalls at pop-up booths. I made about $500 a month, which I used to cover my university expenses.
My content marketing agency started in 2014 out of a need. My father had just passed on and my family was struggling to make ends meet. Being the youngest, I didn’t want to burden my family. So, I started Blissful Studios, which started as a photo booth service provider. It eventually evolved to a full-fledged corporate content marketing agency, where we support our clients with video content production, social media content and digital marketing.
While entrepreneurship is where my interest lies, I have a strong passion towards education as a means to provide a continued source of income and independence. I believe that everyone deserves the right to unrestricted education. Women in less developed economies have difficulty completing their high-school education as they are culturally encouraged to get married at a young age. When we dug a little deeper, we found that when their husbands pass on, most are left with little or no clue on how to survive or raise their children. However, they often have assets like plots of land, house, a community garden or even a plantation for some. With unrestricted access to business education, these women can learn skills to help them be independent and pass down the knowledge to their next generation to sustain themselves.
While that is a noble mission, profits must come in first for us to support these women from less developed economies. In 2019, I began crowdfunding Fempreneur Secrets from a community of aspiring and established women entrepreneurs from around the world. We raised a reasonable amount as capital, and as proof that it is possible to start a business from nothing. We have a 5-for-1 model, where for every course or product purchased, we’ll set aside 20% of the course fees to fund our outreach programme.
You are the co-founder of Fempreneur Secrets. Tell us how Fempreneur Secrets came about and its mission?
Fempreneur Secret was launched in 2017. Its mission is to empower women to start and own businesses, and to create a community of economically independent women entrepreneurs globally.
My interactions with female entrepreneurs who shared their struggles being in a male dominated world was the main reason that got me interested to start Fempreneur Secrets. These women have interesting and inspiring stories to share. Their stories became a resource for new female entrepreneurs who just started out, who may be swimming in an ocean of online self-help materials that are either too generic or targets male entrepreneurs. Our fempreneurs may find it hard to relate. That’s when I started Fempreneur Secrets Podcast to purely share my knowledge in business to the world. The podcast was well received globally and through the exposure, we have also been invited to conduct digital marketing workshops in Brunei and Singapore. At the end of the day, we hope to see more women having control and ownership over businesses that they started.
You have been nominated The Most Compassionate Womenpreneur Award in 2019 and have spoken at events supported by Google Singapore and the US State Department. In your opinion, what are three tips for women to succeed in this new tech-driven era and industries dominated by males?
Have a clear vision. You need to understand the main reason why you started in the first place. Not knowing why you are in business or have clarity on what purpose or problem you are solving is not going to cut it. At Fempreneur Secrets, we organise workshops to teach our community of women entrepreneurs how to develop a clear ‘WHY’ when they embark on their business journey.
Understand your role. Have a clear set of roles when you embark on your being your own boss and the level of involvement. Are you the one running the business or are you going to delegate some of the tasks to someone? If you are going to be delegating tasks to someone, are you able to lead that person? Are you able to communicate with the person?
In addition, many women desire to be a CEO, CMO and CFO but it takes a lot of energy to run it solo. Being a leader is important when you are building a team. Identifying the roles and delegating them is important. When you want your business to grow, you can hire talents or invest in tools to speed up and automate processes.
Always seek knowledge. Always upgrade your skills and knowledge to be kept abreast of the latest trends and developments in the business world. If there is something you like about the new trends, you can decide to invest in learning more. The main thrust is to keep acquiring knowledge.
As a digital marketer, what is the most challenging part of building a brand from scratch? What are the key marketing strategies and tactics for an entrepreneur to consider when they embark on their business?
As a digital marketer, the most challenging part is building a brand from scratch and knowing what you want. You may have a vision of where you want your business to take you, but you don’t necessarily have the vision of how you want the aesthetics of your brand to look like. Developing a brand image and strategy are key components in any business.
When we started Fempreneur Secrets, we set clear vision about our brand voice, values, our mission and vision. It is the most challenging because it requires a lot of thinking. However, once these are sorted out, you’ll be able to build the design and aesthetics around your brand more effectively.
When it comes to digital marketing and social media marketing, a lot of times people tend to focus on the things that they do and the things that they sell. The focus instead should be on how their business can give value, and how their potential customers will be able to benefit from it. So, if you can focus on value, your brand will resonate well with your ideal customers online.
You can be selling just about anything. However, the most important thing is, if you do not deliver the value to your customers, they might not see the need why they need your product or service in the first place.
Do you think branding is important and why?
Definitely! Branding is totally important. You’ll hear from some people that branding is not the most important thing in starting a business. I’ve actually started a couple of businesses since 2008. Most of the time because of branding and positioning, you get to see a different side of your customers or clients. The saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply to branding. “Judging by its cover” is everything in branding.
When you start a business you tend to want to sell your services or your product to people who are close to you: your friends, your families, even maybe as far as acquaintances. But what happens when these pools of people run out? You will not be able to reach out to them.
Branding expands the pool of family and friends and acquaintances to a new audience that may become your customers. In today’s digital world, branding is an especially important element in your business. Get it right in the beginning and you will grow your business well.
You have achieved so much even before you reach 30 years old. What can we expect next from Huda in the next few years?
In the next few years, I hope to take my women business community at Fempreneur Secrets to the next level. Our members who are in phase one of their business idea will “graduate” to phase two where they will be focusing on growing their business, and eventually becoming business owners.
In time, we want to grow with them and help them achieve growth. We also want to build a sustainable ecosystem such that every group of women leaders who have successfully ‘graduated’ will be mentors or provide support for new members in future phases.
For those who wish to connect with you, how can they do so?
I am contactable via LinkedIn. You can learn more about Fempreneur Secrets by visiting our website. If you are a female entrepreneur who would love to be part of our growing community, you can join the waitlist here. Applications for aspiring women entrepreneurs to join our community takes place once a year. This is where we will guide and support you from starting a business to owning your business. Alternatively, you can follow us on Instagram.