The Burden of Owning a Business

Sunny Tan HC
4 min readJan 21, 2022

We put in our best effort and do what we can to ensure that we deliver what we need to the company. In exchange, we get our salary monthly and possibility a bonus yearly, if the company is doing well.

How many of you thought that if you can do this well, why even work for someone and let others rip the benefit? How about starting your own company and enjoying the fruits yourself? The BIG question is if you get to enjoy the sweetness without the sourness, or will there be sweetness at all?

The Adrenaline Rush

When I started the company with my business partner, I felt that we could do something that we were good at without holding back and explaining everything to the boss. So instead of managing the boss, we can focus on managing the customer and going full steam ahead. Knowing that we started on our own, some business partners came to us to continue working with us.

Instead of the traditional security market, we found ourselves getting at an opportunity at Digital Transformation. We are developing a customised enterprise solution for a famous classic Singapore brand. Things were looking good, and we feel that we can leverage this and expand to provide such services for other businesses. However, it was pre-pandemic, and digitisation has yet to take an anchor and of strategic importance.

The companies’ key focus is business as usual, and they will only consider if they can get this with support from the government grant.

The Adrenaline Rush Down

What’s the one thing you need to worry about when working for someone? I supposed that if the company can pay your salary on time, that’s about all. You do not need to worry about compliance to ACRA, paying taxes to IRAS, or ensuring workers’ rights are complied with according to MOM. However, when the “honeymoon” period is over, and we see the other aspects of running a company, the reality sets in.

As a company owner, taking care of ourselves is the last item on the checklist. The most important thing that we need to care about is the people in the company. It is not about an individual, which is relatively straightforward, but some might be the family’s sole breadwinner. We are talking about the livelihood of the family at stake.

With limited human resources and to earn more, we need to deliver more. So we need to do more and put in more hours to deliver more. Tell these to an employee, and they will ask you about the work-life balance. Being a small company with limited bargaining power also means we need to do more to retain people. It is always the number games, and the number will always work against small companies aiming at organic growth unless one is lucky to get a sizable contract or fortunate enough to get support financially.

Carrying the Burden

The burden is here to stay as long as we hold the helm to run the company. We don’t get paid as well compared to being employed for my partner and me. We are accountable for all the obligations and regulations for running a company. If there isn’t sufficient cash in the company, we need to dig into our savings to ensure that the company keeps running and the people get paid.

I need to think of different ways to reach out and shamelessly ask people around for help. Typically, there will be people who tell me to reach out to them if I need help. But, unfortunately, they are the same group who keep numb when I ask for help openly. Still, I need to put down my pride, smile around, and continue my shameless act for the company’s sake.

Think Thrice

This article is not to discourage you from embarking on entrepreneurship, and it aims to show you the reality of this journey. It is not all glory, and don’t fall into the trap just for the title of a ‘CEO’ or ‘Founder’.

I am recommending that you need to have these if you like to embark on this journey in Singapore.

  1. You are not the ONLY person providing for your family. In other words, you must have the money to survive and the money to burn to bring your company off the runway.
  2. You have the CONNECTIONS and SUPPORT to reach out to the appropriate people. It is not about how novelty or unique your product is. It is about how you can reach the decision-makers to show them and get them saying ‘Yes’ to you.
  3. You must be prepared to LOSE what you have built to date. You need to put your ego and pride aside that it is not shameful to get back to employment if things do not work out. So what that you fail? It is still much better for those who comment all they like without taking any action.

In Summary

It is an exciting journey, and I have no regret over the four years of my life. It shows me the other perspective and what I can do to make sure things happen. It also shows me who are my real friends and who are there only when there’s something for them to benefit from.

I have a life to live and a family to support. I will do whatever I can to keep this venture going, and if I can’t, I will get back to employment. As I am writing this article, I am giving myself another 12 months to get this work or get back to work.



Sunny Tan HC

Continuous Improvement | CX | DX | Ex- Technoprenuer | Project Manager | Vacathoner | Medium Writer | Member of CVMB-IPMA