Nothing Can Stop a Real Hustler: How Karla Singson Grew Physical and Online Businesses in Asia
When you look up hustler in Google, it gives you the definition ‘an aggressively enterprising person, a go-getter.’ This does seem to fit Karla. She is aggressive, enterprising, and a definite go-getter. But looking back at who she was ten years ago and looking at her now, I’m not sure that hustler is even the right word anymore.
Fifteen years ago, Karla was a school athlete and quite a “nerd.” She wrote for the school paper, joined the cheer dance group, and played table tennis. She was 16 when she joined her University’s Debate Club. She still remembers the feeling: “I’m the only female freshman. I’m so nervous. But it’s okay. I’m going to do it”. Three years later, she became President of the Debate Club.
She graduated at nineteen (yes, a Bachelor’s degree in business), tried being an employee, then eventually decided that business was better for her. It took her only eight months to realize this, and then she ventured the entrepreneur’s life. She formalized her gift shop and started another business, events, and PR company.
Today, Karla is a consultant, a serial entrepreneur, an award-winning writer, mentor, and speaker. Her clients range from industry giants like Sony Philippines, Air Asia, UNICEF, USANA, and SM to small-medium enterprises. Her first business, Gifts Davao, is now a successful dealership, with ten locations all over the country. Her events business, PREP, grew too. They have served over a hundred brands — big and small. Along the way, she also delved into a few successful online ventures. At twenty-eight, she was awarded at the Asia CEO Awards – Entrepreneur of the Year (Circle of Excellence).
How does she do it?
Karla lets us in on her secret to growing small-medium enterprises to millions.
Get to Know Your Client – Inside and Out
Sales are largely human psychology, and you begin the study with your client. Get to know your client. Talk to them, listen to them, ask for their feedback, and observe their behavior. Know what motivates your client and what makes them tick. When you understand how your clients think and what motivates them, you begin to understand their behavior. Later on, you will learn to predict their behavior. This is when you can sell almost anything to them. Know your clients fully.
Choose Profit-first, low capital (or zero capital) businesses.
Starting a business with zero to low capital is definitely possible. This is especially ideal when you’re just starting out. A profit-first business means you get paid, even before the service is provided. The next step is to grow that profit – make more sales. Frontload your business with sales and purposefully increase the gap between sales and expansion. Sales should always be ahead. Cash should always be available. Cash on hand is the single most important thing when you’re just starting. Worry about expansion second, and all problems will be taken care of if you have the cash/sales.
Grow as a Leader
Growing your business is extremely exciting. Closing deal after deal and selling can effectively be addicting. As you grow your business, grow your leadership skills as well. You are no longer working on you, and you are no longer the sole owner of your business. Your business will not thrive with you alone – you cannot carry that weight. You need the help of your team. As they look up to you as a leader, inspire them, motivate them, lead them, and manage them. Leading your people is taking care of your people. And it’s true what they say, take care of your people, and your people will take care of your clients.
With these three tips, Karla makes success in business seem simple. But simple doesn’t always mean easy. There will be obstacles along the way, and you will need help and guidance. The fastest path to growing your business – find a mentor.
Or better yet, find a mentor who’s also a hustler. But then again, is Karla a hustler? There seems to be no perfect word to describe who Karla is. She is a topnotch businessperson and leader overall, and she doesn’t seem to be stopping soon.