Meet Sha-En Yeo, a trainer and a speaker in the area of happiness and well-being and the co-founder of Happiness Scientists, based in Singapore.
Her business Happiness Scientists offers positive psychology courses to schools and companies and helps people become happier using scientifically backed research & tools.
Sha-En is passionate about making the world a happier place and has spoken to over 10,000 people sharing the science of happiness.
Read on to find out more about Sha-En and Happiness Scientists.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED.
Prior to starting my business, I was an educator in the Ministry of Education in Singapore. I saw how kids were academically successful but somehow didn’t have the skills to be resilient or handle challenges well. This drove me to find out more about how to support these kids, and I discovered an entire field of psychology called Positive Psychology – how to help people flourish.
In 2010, I went to the University of Pennsylvania to study, and when I returned, I quit my job and started my business, Positive Education. I was mainly doing training and consulting with schools and organizations. Because of my teaching background, I was able to get many good projects through word of mouth. The business grew stronger as I took on business coaching in 2016. In 2019, I decided to rebrand my company to Happiness Scientists to make our value proposition very clear.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
My typical day involves working on proposals, preparing slides, networking & meeting with future partners/collaborators. As it is very much a service business, staying in touch with like-minded people means we can find opportunities to co-create. I also spend time strategizing on how to scale the business so that we can extend our impact beyond Singapore.
I stay productive by getting enough rest, having a routine and exercising every day. I write down the things I want to do and make sure they get done. In between, I take frequent breaks so that I keep my energy levels high. On Fridays, I let my hair down, and meet up with friends to get my social time.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
I started the business with no business experience, only with the passion for what I was doing. I asked all my friends in education if they would introduce me to people who might want to learn more about Positive Psychology. I shared with anyone that I met at networking events about what I was doing.
My idea for business stemmed from my time as a teacher, trying to find a solution to supporting kids to be more resilient. As a teacher I could only work with a few children; if I ran my own business, I could go to many schools and impact many more.
My business was at first named Positive Education, as that was exactly what I was doing. I didn’t have any partners at the start (but now I do), and I created my own website to begin. Moneywise, I had spent more than 50K on my degree, and didn’t have that much capital – perhaps I spent about $10k to get things rolling.
Thankfully, the feedback from my friends and schools was positive. I managed to get a good client within a few months of starting, who then referred me to other clients. Of course, there were months where there was little or no income. To supplement the income, I took on some part-time teaching and through there, managed to get new contacts as well.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
Biggest Achievement: I am most proud of being a pioneer in the field of Positive Education here in Singapore. When I first started, many people told me that it was too niche, and said I wouldn’t last more than 2 years. But I pushed through and now the field is so much more mature, and there is much more demand. I am really proud to have had the resilience & foresight to know this would be really important in the future.
Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was trying to keep finances stable and sustainable. As mentioned above, some months there wasn’t much income, and sometimes, clients would cancel and I’d have no recourse. Trying to be sustainable and replace my previous income took me many years, but thankfully I’m up to speed now.
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
Goal setting for both finances and impact (no of people reached etc), hiring a coach to help me clarify my goals, and help keep me accountable as I moved towards them. Being more intentional in using clients’ keywords in my marketing, so as to meet their needs.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
Having just gotten a business partner, the goal is to upskill my business partner so that we can both be competent in doing the training. My strength is in networking & finding new partners, so I will focus on that going forward. My partner will focus on content & curriculum development & training.
My most immediate plan is to scale the business using technology eg. online courses or webinars so that we can have multiple streams of income and wider reach (beyond physical location). We are also working on our first guidebook & model.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
PLEASE RECOMMEND ANY RESOURCES AND TOOLS THAT YOU USE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS.
Website – WordPress,
Email marketing – Mailchimp,
Accounting – Excel.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS, BLOGS OR PODCASTS?
Some of my favourite books are Think & Grow Rich, Factfulness, Good to Great.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Be clear about WHY you want to start your business, as that will keep you going when the going gets tough. Surround yourself with cheerleaders, people who will inspire and encourage you, so that you can be motivated and have people to lean on.
Trust yourself because sometimes there are lots of distractions and people giving suggestions – you have to know what you want.
WHAT BUSINESS IDEA DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?
A parenting chatbot powered by AI that can help me be a better parent, especially when I am out of solutions.
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
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