A question that young entrepreneur Hillz Lee asks herself every day is “For who am I waking up for?” and her answer doesn’t just give her meaning, it helps motivate her business.
Lee’s journey started in college when she worked as a fashion stylist on the side. She and her friends would organize a mini 5-day bazaar selling painted and pre-loved clothes, and they would also invite small brands to share the space that they rented.
“I had a passion for organizing events and trips and then that developed into a talent for business,” Lee stated. “I started my online business, Olitrade PH, last year during the pandemic. I started by selling alcohol in gallons, bulk boxes of face masks, and face shields. It was a winning experience on my part because, despite the situation, I managed to overcome the financial threat of the pandemic.”
From there, Lee was able to earn just enough to re-invest and diversity into selling different products, from computer chairs, kitchen trolleys, gardening tools, office supplies, and many more.
“I just observed the market demand, and from there, I searched for suppliers, asked the right people,” Lee shared. “I am blessed that I am guided by God to find the right suppliers, mentors, and people to build my business.”
Aside from Olitrade PH that has been running for a year, Lee and her business partner, Charles Tiu, also started a business called The Grainery PH which has been running for more than two months now. They supply imported and local rice to residents, restaurants, stores, and around Metro Manila.
Lee disclosed that what keeps her moving is her purpose.
“I am waking up for the people who have had my back ever since and never gave up on me,” she expressed. “I am just blessed to have them and they are my strength and hope that, come what may, I have a support team believing in me.”
What has also kept Lee’s businesses running are her focus, dedication, and strategy. Here, Lee shares some tips for entrepreneurs who would like to keep their businesses up despite the current pandemic.
1. Have that never-ending grit.
In handling a business, entrepreneurs should stay determined and motivated. For Lee, she advises people to reflect on their purpose every day from the moment they wake up.
“There are times when you feel down and unmotivated, but always ask yourself “For who am I waking up for?” Or “what am I waking up for?”, advised Lee. “It gives your life meaning, color, and value. There would be days you will really feel all the weight of the world is on you, so rest, but never give up. Recover from the days when you were not in tune. Stand up and strive again and again until you are less than 1 kilometer from the goals or the right people you are walking towards.”
2. Be consistent and courageous.
An entrepreneur must learn to maximize their capital in order to build and grow their business. This won’t be possible if the entrepreneur slacks off or cowers from opportunity.
“Being shy is not an ideal characteristic when entering a business,” Lee stated confidently. “You should appear to people prepared and knowledgeable in what you are selling. The best approach is to have the courage to ask people what they need, then be able to deliver information about your product and then explain to them why they need it. Ever since I was a child, I was very timid. Even my teachers would tease me “louder” when reciting poetry in front of the class. Now, I’ve learned how to talk to and approach people the right way.”
3. Be in multiple places online.
When it comes to marketing your business, entrepreneurs must be savvy with digital platforms.
“Online has been one platform that I heavily use. It is where I find my distributors and customers,” shared Lee. “I have been consistent in posting on my social media account and on selling sites, like Shopee and Carousell. In the morning I will arrange pickups and deliveries then by night time I will create content for posting and share it online.”
However, it shouldn’t stop with creating a social media account. Entrepreneurs should consistently post in order to keep the online presence of their business active, to look more established to the viewers, and to broaden opportunities for partnerships.
“Posting has been a ritual to me and I do it on a daily basis even on weekends,” Lee stated. “It’s where I find my retail and wholesale sales. It is important to always be present in most selling platforms online because you never know your big sale might be around the corner if that right person or company saw your ad.”
4. Have that magical charm.
All entrepreneurs would agree that their business would not grow if it isn’t for their customers. Thus their products must always adjust to their needs. It’s the entrepreneur’s job to communicate well with their customers by showing how much they care for them.
“Consumers know when your goal is their money,” Lee stated. “Learn to listen and have the intention and interest to find what they need and what best fits them. Make it personal and warm so that they would appreciate your customer service. And then after their transaction, they would be looking forward to the next.”
5. Appreciate people who support you.
Lee knows that she wouldn’t be successful if it weren’t for the people who had given her a hand. Throughout her entrepreneurial journey, she emphasizes how grateful she is for the people who have helped her, and she considers them to be her main cause for inspiration and purpose.
“I thank God who has been blessing me with so many opportunities despite this pandemic,” she expressed. “He connected me to the right people in my life so I can make a good impact on them. I also thank my family who has been there always, friends who are reaching out a helping hand even though I don’t ask for it. I also owe my suppliers, my customers who have been loyal to my services and products, and to the riders and distributors who have been there to deliver and close sales.”