Why Is a Man Writing a Book about Mothers?
Hi, mommies, are you wondering why a man is writing a book on how to perfect the balance between motherhood and business? What is the
relation? Is there any linkage?
When someone asked recently what I was busy with, I told them that I was writing a book. The first question that they asked was, “What are you writing about?” When I told them that I was writing a book on a mommy being an entrepreneur, a.k.a. a mompreneur, they said, “Huh?!” The next question they asked was, “Shouldn’t you write a book on being a dadpreneur instead?”
Even today, I am surprised that I am writing a book about mothers. In the beginning, I thought that I would be writing about myself, but as I discussed the topic with my publisher, they connected all the dots in my life and that is when Mother Industrialist was born.
How Did It All Start?
It all started when I finished my two and a half years of National Service, after completing my diploma in apparel designing in Temasek Polytechnic. My first job was as a sales executive in a fabric mill and we sold fabric to big brands like Gap, Baby Gap and Old Navy. Most of the orders we got were from Baby Gap.
After working in this company for a year plus, they stopped all local operations because the management decided to close down the Singapore office. I was looking for a new job and I got referred to a babywear company to be a designer. This started my career in the parenting world. That was in October 2005, when I started to understand more about parents, although I was not a parent yet. In 2008, my wife was pregnant, and I was looking for a promotion, but my manager told me that it would be hard to give me a promotion because the company was small. She joked that if she gave me a promotion, that would mean replacing her in her position.
I began to get worried because I was going to have an additional family member, which is a happy occasion but also means more commitment and more income is needed. So I started to look for a higher-paying job and was referred to an advertising sales job for a parenting magazine. I got this job immediately because of my experience and network in the babywear company. The publisher believed that this background would help me in this advertising sales job. Most of the clients I met were mommies, and the majority of them only started their business after they became a mommy. At the same time, I was also getting lots of parenting tips and advice from them.
Fast-forward to today, nine years later. In the past nine years, although I was in different jobs, I was still in contact with my parenting clients. Most of us stay connected via Facebook. At the same time, we have been watching our children grow up over the years on Facebook too.
In July 2015, I got laid off because the company decided to stop operations. I was serving some clients and they suggested that I start my own company so that I could continue to service them. In the beginning, everything was good but the economy turned down toward the end of 2015. Most of my clients’ sales started to slide down, and this affected their marketing budget. By February 2016, I started to lose some of my marketing consulting services, and this had an impact on my income. After realizing that I needed to start finding various ways to build up my business, I started working on myself in terms of personal development and finding out what the purpose of my life was.
In the past one and a half years, I have been developing my knowledge and skills in digital and Internet marketing while discovering my life purpose.
I was inspired by a talk given by the late Mr Lee Kwan Yew at the Nanyang Auditorium. I came across this talk on YouTube, uploaded on July 25, 2013. The topic is “Singapore has let in a large number of immigrants in a short period. How can we foster a sense of belonging and social cohesiveness?” This question was posted by a Singaporean woman who was pursuing a PhD. Their conversation set me thinking deeply. Mr Lee mentioned that our birthrate that year was 1.01 children. This caught my attention, and I wondered why our birthrate was so low. The reason why our government is currently letting in a large number of immigrants is because of our large aging population. This is not just Singapore’s problem; instead, it is a problem that all developed countries are facing.
“How Can We Foster a Sense of Belonging and Social Cohesiveness?”
This video conversation got me thinking, What is causing the low birthrate and why are couples not having more children? Take me, for example. I was a middle-income salary paid worker. I got married at the age of 25, and my wife was 24. We had our daughter when we were 26 and 25, respectively, and we became proud parents. In fact, we wanted more children but could not have them because of my wife’s health condition. She was diagnosed with lupus, also known as SLE, and her health was not ideal. She was advised that having children would pose a danger to her and the baby. At the same time, she cannot be stressed out due to her medical condition.
When I look at my friends, most of them are middle-income earners and they also have only one child. Their concerns are the expenses, childcare, caregiving and many more. For my friends who are low-income earners, they hardly think of having any kids. The friends I know who have more than two children are those who are mostly self-employed, business owners, property agents and financial advisors, and some of them are stay-at-home moms while their husbands are businessmen. Mommies who are running their own businesses are also in this category.
I realized the main reasons why couples are not having more children are time and money. If those things were no longer a problem, most couples would consider having more children. Being an entrepreneur can allow them to be free in terms of time and finances! Entrepreneurs can manage their own time, and the amount of time they invest in their work will be rewarded financially in proportion, unlike those who are working as employees. The latter is exchanging time for money, and their time is always at the mercy of others.
I started to find out more and to realize that if I could share my knowledge and show mommies how to achieve time and financial freedom by being an entrepreneur, this would help them plan to have more children and be able to spend more time with their family and loved ones.
So, I started to look for mommies who are entrepreneurs. Initially, I only had 12 mompreneurs to interview, but as I started meeting and talking with them, they referred other mompreneurs to me. In Mother Industrialist, I have described 20 mompreneurs’ entrepreneurial journeys. I hope that by sharing their real-life entrepreneurial journey, this will inspire more mommies to take their first step toward being able to spend more time with their children and their loved ones without worrying about time and money.
Today’s World and Developed Countries’ Number One Problem
I would like to bring to the attention of parents, especially mothers, the situation in today’s world, especially developed countries like Singapore, Japan, Korea and the European countries. Based on the Singapore demographic, we are a rapidly aging population and the birthrate/fertility rate is 1.01. Instead of a pyramid shape, which is positive, we have a diamond shape, or an inverted pyramid. The Institute of Policy Studies has gathered statistics showing that Singapore needs 60,000 immigrants to keep our economy young or economically active. We cannot take in that many immigrants. Currently, we can only manage 20,000 to 25,000 immigrants in a year, but we can definitely not have 60,000 immigrants entering the country in a single year. This situation is similar to Japan, which has a shrinking and aging population. Japan has refused to take any migrants.
Although Singapore is taking in 25,000, which is reasonable, we are also moving in that direction. If our birthrate is 1.8, we can still manage to have 20,000 migrants. With a birthrate of 2.1, we will be able to replace ourselves, but the trend and the reality in all developed countries is that once women are educated and working at jobs, the fertility rate goes down to one. This is because the cost of living is too high. A double income becomes a single one once you have a child.
Pregnancy and looking after the child during the first few years are the greatest concerns. When you have a second child, that requires more income. This issue does not only affect Singapore but also all developed countries, especially those in Europe. The only developed country that is not affected is the United States, where they have huge open spaces and the people have a sense of optimism, so they are willing to have a second child. In contrast, Singapore is a pretty crowded place, which can be seen in the fact that home prices have gone up.
Watch “How Can We Foster a Sense of Belonging and Social Cohesiveness?” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymoM0HJoHgk&t=51s) and you will have a better picture of what the reality is today. The questions that Mr Lee was asking the female PhD student made me realize that a lot of our children will face this issue in the future. Today, having a bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum for any job application. So, can you imagine what it will be in another five to ten years? A master’s degree? It also means that our children will have to study more years before they can enter the workforce or eventually start a family. An average university graduate with a bachelor’s degree will be about 24 to 25 years old before they can go out into the workforce. If the average young adult can get married by the age of 30, there will still be enough time for them to build up their financials and have their first child by the age of 32. In this case, that will leave some time to have a second child by the age of 35 especially for women.
(Chart showing the years of studying and dating to marriage. For illustration purpose only.)
7 to 12 years old (6 years) Primary School Education (P.S.L.E)
13 to 16/17 years old (4–5 years)
Secondary School Education (“N” level and “O” level) 17 to 20 years old (2–3 years) Polytechnic & Junior College (Diploma/“A” level) 21 to 24 years old (3–4 years) University (Degree)
Total 15–17 years of formal education
Ten years ago, having a diploma or degree was the minimum qualification to get a job, but now, as of this writing, you need to have a master’s degree in order to secure a good-paying job. If you continue your studies to earn a master’s degree, you will be at least 27 to 28 years old when you graduate. In most developed countries, it takes people at least three to five years to be financially ready for marriage. This is provided that the profession that our children study for is applicable in the working world in the future. There will not be any time for a career switch if they realize that whatever they studied is not going to get them a job when they graduate. This would mean that they would have to start all over again. I hope parents can see all this from a macro view. If parents look around and see this in terms of their friends, they will realize that most of them are not in the profession that they studied for in their tertiary education or in university.
For more, grab a copy of my book here!
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