Friday Feature: Helping Others Find Meaning and Joy at Work

Heng Teng Teng is the founder and owner of GROW, a boutique firm specializing in career management and executive coaching for individuals and corporate leaders respectively. She found her entrepreneurial spark when she realised what gives her fulfilment in her work, and this now forms the foundation of her business.

How it started


Teng Teng was a Human Resource (HR) professional. Regardless of the industries she was in or positions she held, which included being a HR business partner and coach, she always found a great sense of fulfilment from seeing people enjoying work and getting meaning from the work they did. In fact, her strength and passion in developing people-focused corporate culture and practices made her instrumental in helping a previous company where she worked clinched the Best Employer in Singapore Award in 2009.

She’s so passionate about empowering people to find meaning and joy in their work that it inspired her to set up her company, GROW.

“I believe we can all make choices to find work that gives us meaning and enjoyment. Hence, I have decided to start something on my own in career coaching and executive coaching. Why executive coaching? People usually do not leave jobs, they leave bosses. Thus I believe there is a tremendous impact from leaders on the job satisfaction level,” shared the mother of two. Her daughter is 9 year-old while her son is 7 this year.

Growing the business

Running a workshopThough her company was founded in 2004, it wasn’t until 2010 that she left full-time employment to focus on the business, which now includes clients like National University of Singapore (NUS), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Coach in a Box.

In her first year, Teng Teng made cold calls and tapped on her contacts for leads and opportunities. She also volunteered for talks, seminars on relevant topics and to make herself known to more people.

Her most successful channel in growing the business has been through referrals – especially satisfied clients. Now, almost all of her projects come from referrals. Meanwhile, she has also become more selective about whom she works with.

“I’m more selective about my assignments and clients now because I know my company’s strengths and how best we can add value. Hence, I decline work that I feel I can’t add much value and which could be better done by others. It’s about knowing what your company stands for and what type of work you want to focus on,” she explained.

While ensuring regular projects is not an issue, there are other challenges she faces.

“As a small business owner, you have to multi-task. I’m the credit controller, curriculum designer, saleswoman of my company!” she laughed and continued, “Sometimes, when there are projects lined up back-to-back, I could end up working till really late, like 3am on some nights and then wake up at 6am. Once, I had to conduct a workshop and I lost my voice! After the workshop, I fell sick for a week but have to continue working. I can’t just go on sick leave!” she revealed.

But the trying moments do not deter her. She recognized that they are all part of the journey.

“I’m challenged in many ways but I also look forward to overcoming the challenges. It’s part and parcel of being one’s own boss.”
How about the challenge of dealing with competition?

“I don’t deal with competition. I keep abreast of what others are doing and I ask myself, what is it that I have that they don’t have or vice versa. I focus on doing an excellent job and believe it will come back to me.” It certainly did, as evident by the referrals she receives.

Life as a mompreneur

family photoWhile running her own business means having more control over her time and the work she does, it doesn’t necessarily mean clocking any less hours than before. How does she then juggle her time between family and business?

I will be lying if I say I can balance well. There are times when I’m stressed with family and work demands, especially when it comes to kids’ schoolwork and meeting clients’ deadlines. So I learn to “let go”.

“There are times when I have to let go of some work opportunities because of my kids, and times where my work comes before family,” she elaborated. “It is always about a balancing act – being authentic to my values and priorities, and making right decisions about what to let go.”

Besides work and family, she believes in taking care of herself so that in turn, she can give more to her love ones and clients. She exercises and meditates to take care of her body and mind.

Advice for moms

1. Don’t oversell. Be real and authentic about what you can and cannot deliver.

2. Your business is not about you – it’s about how you can serve your clients to help them be successful.

As a coach, Teng Teng believes in the power of asking the right questions. Here are three for the aspiring mompreneurs to ponder:

- WHY do you want to get into business? What do you believe in fundamentally?
- Are you someone who can accept failures?
- Can you deal with uncertainty? (in incomes, time, people you work with, etc.)

Check out GROW’s website here.

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