May is our second month since the new financial year begins. Looking back, April is a month of new beginnings with refreshing discoveries. We assisted a Charity Organisation in their 1st Charity Gala, we launched the 1st Bridestory Fair with Bridestory at Sofitel Singapore City Centre, and we did our next batch of Creative Selling for Wedding and Event Planners course in the midst of all our busy day to day planning and designing work with our couples.
It is a month that I was very refreshed with new perspectives I have learnt to embrace in the Wedding and Special Events Business world. For a while, I have seen great change and economic shift in this industry. The old guards are fading, and the new ones are coming. Traditional ideas of running a business are challenged with many disruptive ways of reaching out to couples. I have seen the new businesses rise up fast, and fade away as fast. I have also see the old guards struggled, and try to understand the new ways of reaching out to couples. In the midst of all the changes, interestingly, I have noticed the ultimate concern to many owners, be it old or new entrepreneurs are: Can we really sustain our business in today’s world? That is the true question buried deep within all of us, that many of us shun to talk about. The reality is, competition is beyond your next door competitor, our real competition is the change in the new economies.
2016, I took my Sabbatical leave that has also awakened me to discover more about my team and myself – what we need to do, and what we love to do. It was a time that I reviewed carefully every role within the team and forced myself to take a closer look at the business and reviewed my vision of Heaven’s Gift, and ultimately restructure our business for growth. The irony of it all was we have done so well in 2015, we hit 50% above our sales targets, and yet I was burnt out when I finished the financial year in early 2016 despite we launched a great conference to motivate our Creative Entrepreneurs.
|My life goal – To Empower the Next Generation|
That was when I started asking myself: Hannah, what did you want to see in next 5 years? Or Rather what do you hope to see in next 5 years?
I want to see a rise of the next Tan Yoong, the next Harijanto Setiawan, the next Hannah Chong. Not one, but many, because I have always believed – Numbers are strengths. Despite the fact as a creative artist, and business owner, we always want to feel we are the best, but the reality is we are only that one individual. It is only with togetherness of the SAME VISION (yes, I am not talking about togetherness but each wants to do his or her agenda) we can create a ripple effect that will change our world.
|This is the Vision of Heaven’s Gift Academy – Empowering the Next Generation|
And that was when I decided to let go and truly impart my knowledge, my skills and share my trade secrets to the next generations, just as I have been very transparent to share to my business partners, my team on how I run my business singlehanded for the last 14 years. That was the birth of Heaven’s Gift Academy.
But beyond setting up an academy, there is this strong desire that was slowly burning, I long to see a breakthrough in today’s creative entrepreneurs. I want to see the next generation being vigilant and decisive, been persistent and precise in all they do and walk the walk they believe and ultimately to be successful and to last a lifetime. Just as I taught my kids and youth in my Sunday School, I know my duty and calling. As I speak and coach intensively in last 1.5 years, I have also awakened to one reality, there is only one Hannah Chong. I shouldn’t train my team or my students to be the next Hannah Chong, but rather I should coach my people to the best they should be, the next Kim, the next Maxine, Nichelle, Lisa, Huijing, etc. Because each of us is uniquely made, and our destiny is according to the vision we chose to believe and embrace. The good news is as a leader when I decided to let go, and restructure the way it should be, the birth of the new vision is dawned, slowly but surely.
|Together we create the next wave!|
This was a good case:
3 weeks ago, together with Bridestory, we launched our 1st Bridestory show together. Interestingly, when we first approached the old guards in 2017, not many believe in our vision, i.e. this is next wave of wedding shows that the couples are seeking to see. But we persevered and we tweaked, and last month show was a success after 1 year of birthing. Personally, I was not sure, how much sales we could seal in our own booth, because wedding planners hardly close sales in wedding shows, especially we often end up looking after the event flow, instead of focusing on sales closure.
But our team has only one goal – We believe in Bridestory, we want to support Kevin and team from Bridestory, and make it a success regardless of what it takes. And I am so encouraged to see the team of Bridestory, the strengths on how they operate as a team independently and interdependently.
And we are so thankful to see some of the old partners, and many of next-generation players came together with one spirit and vision – to create a show with one common theme set aside by the organiser. That is what I called: UNITY. When there is unity, there is strength. And at the end of the week, when we saw the sales, I was astonished, because I understood one principle: Freely freely you give, freely freely you will receive.
But beyond hitting sales, it was the lovely couples we met and befriended with, that brought back many memories of how I have started in 2004, those innocent years when you have no preconceived ideas of what you have about the industry, you give your all because you believe in what you do.
In that show, I saw a different spirit in the next generation, I saw collaboration instead of competition, I saw learnings instead of gossiping, I ultimately saw growth.
|Bridestory – The Next Trend of Wedding Shows & Marketplace|
And I know the Next Generation of Creative Entrepreneurs is birthing forth! To God be the Glory.