Munas Van Boonstra runs four businesses simultaneously, while gracefully juggling life as a single mother to two adorable children. Her businesses include an events planning company, Nasty Inc; an events furniture & props rental company, Event Rental Malaysia; Gingerbread Haus, a line of children’s clothing she’s started with her kids, and her latest venture being Supermumpreneur, a women & mum’s university where she teaches women how to do it all and entrepreneurship. Oh, and let’s not forget she’s running around town like crazy organizing the first Women’s Success Summit in Kuala Lumpur, a summit that brings together women founders and experts from around the region to create connections and empower extraordinary, every day women!
“The reality is, entrepreneurship is not for everyone.”
“The whole idea for the Women’s Success Summit is for women and mums to know the realities of entrepreneurship, both the good and the bad. Normally, when you attend all these start up events, everyone tells you how great their story is and everyone feels like they can be an entrepreneur. But the reality is, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. So we want to prep people, and we hope to give them some sort of insight and roadmap for them to work on first before they embark on entrepreneurship. At least, when they start their first business, they’re not going to lose their whole life savings, because the reality is when you start your own businesses, 99% of first businesses fail.”
99%? Really? That’s an awful number!
“Yup, it’s a horrible number. But it’s because of the time we have an idea, and we think we kind of can do it, and we just jalan (go for it). A lot of things aren’t looked at in depth. And now, with markets changing and the Internet and social media, it’s even easier to start a business than before. But having said that, it’s tougher than it used to be, because you need to have a lot of knowledge. Before, you didn’t have to. Before, you had to work hard, and be a little better than others, and you’d do well. But now you have to be savvy, you need to know how to produce content, and there are a lot of things to learn. So that’s why we hope this event will inform them to have a better blueprint to work on, and when they start their own business, they have something at the back of their mind that they know they have to look or work on.
For people who are already small business owners, small business owners often work in the business and not on the business. We spend so much time doing the day to day. And it’s hard, because even though I practice what I preach, sometimes I also don’t, because it’s hard when you’re a business owner. You end up being a micromanager and doing all the day-to-day stuff and that’s why a business cannot expand or become bigger.”
What are the qualities that an entrepreneur should have?
“Number one, you have to be somebody that’s very hardworking. A lot of people go into entrepreneurship because they think they can work less. That’s not true. You get to enjoy later, but in the first round, it’s a lot of hard work. Entrepreneurship is a lot more work than you would have in any career or corporate job, because you end up playing more hats than one. In any organization, you normally have different people doing different things. But when you are your own boss, you end up doing more roles than you would in a job.”
“You have to be ready to open your mind and be educated and listen to people’s criticism and suggestions.”
“Number two, you must be somebody that’s open to knowledge and information. A lot of times, people may tell you things and you may know them, but you don’t necessarily execute it. And if you become stubborn and just do business the way it should be done, then that’s the result. The result will be a 100% of what you think should be done. You’re not flexible or open to suggestions. You have to be ready to open your mind and be educated and listen to people’s criticism and suggestions. And, always read up and have a lot of information, and remember to trial and error everything.”
When Munas started up Supermumpreneur, there were of course naysayers ready with their negative remarks.
“Who’s going to do your course? Why would they need to do your course if they need the money to go and do business?”
“My question to them is why are people paying 60k, 90k in university fees to learn entrepreneurship in 3 years? I charge a very small fraction of that. In fact, we charge something even cheaper than what business coaches teach, but we teach every aspect of a business. So you would have a solid business plan that’s real time with your business, so that you can learn and implement it immediately. There’s trial and error, and the assessment is based on your business. This is something that’s very different, very new, and is what I’m fighting for.
With Supermumpreneur, it’s more than just being an entrepreneur. For a lot of these women, there are very meaningful reasons based on empowerment and confidence. Many of them, especially when they end up getting married and having their first child, make the child the first priority. They forget about themselves, because women are always givers, and they tend to think of everyone else except themselves. They forget their original aspirations, goals and dreams. Then one day, when their kids have grown up, they realize their kids no longer need them as much, and they have so much free time but now they can’t go back to work and start from scratch.
A lot of women now start to see this earlier, in their younger years. This is where millenials are very smart as they are very independent from young, and they don’t want to have kids too early. They all want to be independent. And if you want to be independent and have luxuries, then you have to make your own money. This is why entrepreneurship is different from women to men. It’s a very deep down sense of accomplishment.”
Munas seems like a full on Supermumpreneur herself, juggling so many things at the same time. How does she do it all? And what’s the toughest thing she faces?
“I have my hard days, where everything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
“One of the hardest things, which is something I’m perpetually going through today, is trying to do it all. Time management is the most important thing. The second is efficiency. Every day, I am finding ways and means to become more efficient, be it in my house or in my life. It’s very easy for me to become a headless chicken, running around. I have my hard days, where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. And I crash and burn, and have my breakdowns. But what I have learnt is that every time I crash and burn, I allow it to happen, but I set a time limit for it. I allow myself a few days of downtime whereby I do nothing. I don’t do any work and I become irresponsible. So I sleep when I feel like sleeping, wake up when I want to wake up. But for the rest of the days, I’m like a robot, I’m very regimented.”
I still can’t wrap my mind around how she’s doing so many things, even if she’s very regimented and disciplined. I want to know the details!
“I have a to-do list, but we have to be realistic. We want to do all 10 things but we will never be able to, so I always have a sequence where I prioritize what are the three must-dos out of my 10. And then, what are the next three must dos when I finish the first three. That’s why prioritization is very important, and this enables me to make sure that my most prioritized things are done. You have to be very realistic and honest about what will be done and what won’t be done. If you have extra time, then you can go do extra things. But we’re humans, and when we have extra time we want to chill, see our friends and have coffee. That’s natural. So with this journey, I’ve created a planner, where I dump everything I have to do down, put it in a system, lay it out in a week and you know what will have to be done. There’s a weekly goal, which is one simple goal, then many, many daily goals because small wins always lead to a big win. That’s been my mantra and has worked out very well for me, and works well for my students. And you know, mums are the worst, because there’s so much to juggle. If mums can do it, with kids who are external factors that you just cannot control, because they are like ticking time-bombs, then this will work for anybody!”
What’s the one piece of advice she would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
“You need to lock down your time management skills. Only if you have time, will you be able to have time for your business without going crazy. If you don’t have time for yourself, you will go crazy, burn out and fail. When you have time sorted out, you will have the time to learn, trial and error, enjoy, work and do your passion. And if you have time management skills, it also means you are organized and that you are disciplined. It means that you are someone who is dedicated, because you can stick to something, which also means you are hardworking. So if you have this one big thing that is the skill of time management, all these other verticals skills are part and parcel and will come along naturally. And this is the underlying basis of any successful business or successful person. It’s a mesh that comes together.”
Munas also champions waking up early, like many successful bigwigs do.
“I always tell people to wake up an hour earlier than everyone else.”
“I’m a nocturnal person, but waking up early is very good for you. I think that your brain, when you wake up, is in a very different mode that you don’t get any other time of the day. So when you put it into good use, your brain is really good at that time. I always tell people to wake up an hour earlier than everyone else. I call this the transformational hour.”
Munas isn’t afraid to dream big, and her life goal is inspired by her late father.
“My ideal life would be to run a huge business empire while being a full time philanthropist, like Melinda and Bill Gates. This is why I work so hard, because I hope to have a mini-version of that on my own. I hope this happens in the next ten years, because you need to be young and have a lot of energy if you want to go out and help people! I have had crazy dreams since I was four. When I was four, I told my dad I wanted to be a humanitarian doctor in Africa, but whilst my father was alive, he kept telling me not to be one. He taught me one thing, because he was a huge humanitarian, and this has become my life motto. “Do you want to be a doctor that can only treat one patient at a time in Africa, at the mercy of all the foreign aid and money, then you can only help one person and watch the others die around you? Or do you want to be the person that has so much money, that she can open her own hospital and independently treat thousands at a time?”
So this has become the answer for the rest of my life, and it’s my big goal. If I cannot go and treat these people in Africa one by one on my own, then I must own my own hospital to treat them.
Unfortunately in this world, the reality is that everything needs money. So, go make money first, and then as long as you have a good heart, the money will be put to good use. You can be the greatest humanitarian in the world, be a socialite and raise millions, but I want to get my hands dirty and be on the ground. I think real success will be felt when I actually do it myself. I want to be the person that makes the money, brings more money in, and hopefully builds the hospital one day.”
Do check out Supermumpreneur for more information!
If you enjoyed reading about this woman who’s doing it all, you might want to read up on Charissa Ong who published her own book at the age of 24.
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