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How I launched a side hustle in my corporate comfort zone

Fyiona is a Millennial Engagement Expert and Founder of Wholistic Coachsulting Ltd. She helps companies and executives create effective and engaged multi-generational teams. She works with leaders to bridge generational gaps to achieve a more engaged and happier work environment for everyone.

Her focus is also on Millennial talents whereby she empowers them to excel in their workplace and shape them to become inspiring future leaders. Fyiona believes that overcoming generational differences and embracing generational diversity will lead to increased productivity and morale.

Hello! What's your background, and what are you working on?

My professional background, while diverse, isn’t traditional: Within 14 years in a Fortune 50 company, I rotated through roles from Finance, Digital Transformation to Customer Operations in various locations. Most recently, before transitioning into entrepreneurship, I was appointed as the worldwide youngest Head of Customer Operations in Shell and led a multi-cultural and multi-generational team in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

I realized that the most fulfilling and inspiring part of my corporate career revolved around supporting my team and colleagues in their professional and personal growth through coaching and mentoring.

My passion for people development resulted in establishing the first Women’s Network in Shell Hong Kong, launching regional Employee Engagement initiatives and Mentoring Programs for Shell Customer Operations in Asia-Pac which was recognized with a Shell Vice Presidents award. I am the Founder of Wholistic Coachsulting Ltd and a Millennial Engagement Expert who helps companies and executives create effective and engaged multi-generational teams.

Describe your idea / startup in less than 50 words

As a Millennial myself, I am known as a "Generational Bridge Builder". I believe that overcoming generational differences and embracing generational diversity will lead to increased productivity and morale. I work with Corporates and Executives to bridge generational gaps to achieve a more engaged, inclusive and happier work environment.

How did you get started with your business?

As the youngest Head of Operations in Shell, I heard much too often how peers, who are Gen X or Baby Boomers, bash Millennials for being entitled, lazy and impatient. Having led teams spanning across Gen Z to Baby Boomers, I learnt how to effectively lead across generations. This motivated me to provide support other managers to start leveraging and embracing the purposeful drive and ambitious mindset of Millennial employees.

My aim is to make a difference in how Millennials are being perceived in the corporate environment workplace. I want to share my professional experience as a Millennial Executive and a Hiring Manager with my fellow Millennials and Gen Z to set them up for success.

What did you do to attract users and grow your business?

While still in my corporate comfort zone, I got certified as a Professional Coach and established my side hustle to provide transformational life coaching. Running a side business without having to quit my day job was a key enabler for me to decide 10 months later to leave corporate and fully dedicate my time to my own business because I could already test out waters without the pressure not knowing how to pay my bills.

It’s important to find a niche that you identify with. I could have given up as a Coach just because there are so many experienced coaches in the market already. But instead of giving up, I did my research to understand more about my unique strengths and proposition that no one else could offer. There are close to zero coaches focusing on Millennials and supporting those who lead a Millennial workforce – especially in Asia. Since this is also an area I feel strongly about due to my experience as a young leader in a multi-national company, I knew this is perfect niche for me. Yes, this is not necessarily a niche that is the most lucrative for a coach, but I wanted to stay true to myself.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

I have a 6 and 12 months as well as a 3 year plan. In short, I want to create a well-known brand, a prime driver and a Go-To Consultancy for Millennial Engagement and Generational Inclusion Strategies focusing on both the current and future leaders. By end of next year, I would have grown the business to be able to hire 1-2 employees to further grow the business outside of Hong Kong.

Tell us about the challenges you have faced and what you have done to overcome this.

The main challenge is limiting self-belief, especially after being in the corporate environment for almost 15 years. I over came this through creating a support network around me including an accountability partner, mentors as well as coaches. Drawing from my own personal experience and speaking to several Side Hustlers, here are some key enablers to help you get started and maintain momentum to create a successful business: Create/Find Your Niche Think about the types of services you might be able to offer.

What skills, experience, or other assets do you have that you can share?

Drawing from my own personal experience and speaking to several Side Hustlers, here are some key enablers to help you get started and maintain momentum to create a successful business:

  • Create/Find Your Niche

Think about the types of services you might be able to offer. What skills, experience, or other assets do you have that you can share? Figure out ways to differentiate yourself from others, such as by offering a service that is unique or in high demand.

Manage Time and Give it Time
Expect that it will take time to learn what works, and what doesn’t, when pursuing a side hustle. It may take a few tries before you figure out what works for you and your clients. And even then, it could take months to get gigs regularly.
Manage your Finances
Figure out what you’ll do for income if you don’t get enough gig work to pay the bills. You might want to work a more traditional job, in addition to doing gigs, at least at first.
Be Adaptable and Realistic
Not every gig is a good fit, and you have to trust your instincts. Gig workers also advise changing tactics when what you’re doing isn’t going well. To stay competitive as a side hustler, be prepared to keep learning and adapting.
In fact, I have also rebranded my business within 10 months because I started of with Wholistic Wellbeing but when corporates started to show interest, the Wellbeing part of the name just sounds too “new age” and misleading. So I changed it to Wholistic Coachsulting which is more appealing to a wider audience because I incorporate coaching and consulting aspects.

What's the one tool or resource you've found helpful?

LinkedIn is the social media platform that I have leveraged on to learn from other entrepreneurs and individuals within and outside of my industry. Apart from learning, I was also able to utilize LinkedIn as my personal branding platform to ensure my audience is aware of what I do, how I do it as well as get an initial insight of who I am as a person.

What's your advice for other women who are just starting out?

Apart from the tactical success factors, most of the noise comes from our inner voice that hinders us to succeed. Self-Belief: Having confidence in your ability to address problems and obstacles that you encounter. If you have a strong self-belief, you will be more willing to tackle problems head on and persist with them even when things get difficult. Remind yourself to shut up the inner negative self-talk and be kind to yourself.

Practicing gratitude and journaling is the ideal way to strengthen self-confidence. Purposeful Direction: Having clearly defined goals that you are committed to achieving. Once you know your what, I promise you that the How comes automatically. When you have a clear vision about what you want to achieve, it will keep setbacks in perspective and are recognised as just part of a journey to achieving desired outcomes and results.

Support Seeking: Willing to ask others for help and support when dealing with difficult situations. I have found it very beneficial to refer to others and gather different perspectives. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people and not those who may drain energy especially in difficult situations.

What is your morning routine?

I wake up at the same time every day regardless of whether it’s a weekend or weekday and I start with a 10-15 minutes meditation followed by having breakfast with my husband. Before I start getting busy, I will ensure I write 2-3 things in my journal that would make my day awesome. This way I start off energized and motivated.

My favourite quote is

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

Describe yourself in 3 words

Passionate, Conscientious, Mindful

Where can we go to learn more?

Fyiona is a MBA Career Coach for the University of Hong Kong, a KELY Support Group mentor, a TWF Mentoring alumna and sits on the board of the NextGen Women’s Network. Her personal background is equally diverse: As a Malaysian-born Chinese she grew up in Germany, spent 2 years in the US and sees herself as a bridge between the Western and Asian culture. She moved to Hong Kong in 2010 to rediscover her Asian heritage. Fyiona holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Business Administration from the Hamburg School of Business Administration and is an ICF certified professional coach.

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