Kiss 92FM presenter and television host Charmaine Yee changed her view of success after losing a five-figure sum in business. The 32-year-old shares what she learnt from her failed venture.

The failure of my first business venture taught me valuable lessons. I’ve learnt that for a business to succeed, you’ve got to keep your ego in check, and listen when your loved ones tell you it’s time to let go.

My dad told me, “Letting go doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. It’s just gone for now. One day, you’ll be a successful business owner again.” I was defensive at first. My only thoughts were, “I’ve already spent this much on the business! Why should I let it go to waste? I’m sure I can make it work… it’s so embarrassing to fail.”

I’ve always been an overachiever… a school prefect, vice-captain of my sports team, vice-president of the English Literary Drama and Debate Society…the list goes on.

In my 20s, I felt pressured to have it all by the time I hit 30. I wanted a successful career in radio, television, and as an entrepreneur. Crazy huh? And that was how Zoeyanne, my short-lived clothing blogshop business, started in 2012. I ran the business with my ex and when we broke up, I rebuilt it from scratch – distractedly I might add.

How Charmaine Yee Bounced Back In Her Career After Losing A Five-Figure Sum
Image: HerWorld

The business didn’t last over a year and I lost a five-figure sum, mostly because… I had no idea what I was doing! I left business operations to the team… would it have worked if I gave it the love and time? Probably not. I love fashion, but I’ve come to realise it’s not the business for me.

I got a loan from my mother to cover my losses. I worked my butt off in every job to pay her back. When I was hanging on to the business, my family and friends told me I was spreading myself too thin doing four jobs at a time – juggling 5am shifts on Fox Sports Asia, my radio show on Hot FM91.3 from 1pm to 4pm, and hosting events. I was tired yet I refused to let go, as it felt like a failure for not achieving my goals.

My mum had a heart-to-heart talk with me. She told me that there’s no in between when it comes to letting go. You either part ways or you don’t… no sort-ofs, maybes or kindas. I’ve learnt that pursuing too many demanding goals at a time is counterproductive. This year, I started a new business MEvolution, as a speaking coach to empower people to be the best version of themselves, alongside my full-time radio show on Kiss92 FM and hosting ad-hoc events. My view of success is different from a decade ago. Whatever I do now, I do it with all my heart, with focus and purpose… to me, that’s what success is.

Text: Hayley Tai & Cheong Wen Xuan / HerWorld / June 2020
Additional text: Sally Manik
Featured image: @yeecharmaine / Instagram