In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.
Today, we're catching up with Mo Seetubtim of The Happiness Planner. Happiness is what most of us want more of. And Mo made a daily planner that doesn’t just focus on ticking off a to-do list. It helps you find the good in the everyday. Hear Mo on how she handles creative blocks and how her happiness-boosting business has grown.
How do you get around creative blocks?
Sometimes you try so hard to figure out an idea, but it wouldn't come out and then you have a "bing" moment when you're in the shower! This has happened way too many times that I don't stress over creative blocks anymore. I know when it comes, it comes.
I also use Evernote to take notes–shower notes, stuck-in-traffic notes, insomnia notes. Then, I can look back to those ideas again when I feel like I'm ready to start writing or working on the project.
Usually I would go on the internet and search for articles related to what I want to write about or design. Reading different articles and seeing other people's point of view usually give me an idea to a certain extent. I'd jot down the key points that I like and I would ponder upon them later so I could extend on those points. If by that point, I still feel stuck, I would go for a walk, hit the gym, play the piano, or just go get some food from a cafe I've never been to before.
I don't try to force myself out of creative blocks much. Usually when you're stressed and busy, it's hard to let your creative juices come out. You just wait until you relax and the light bulb moment will come on unexpectedly.
Best creative advice that you ever received?
You have to have one single core idea or message. That's one big thing I learned in advertising. You can't tell people that your product is good for A, B, E, H, M, S, and Z. You have to tell your customers that your product is good for A and expand on the A point to A1, A2, A3. At least in one ad, there needs to be only ONE key message or core idea. Otherwise you confuse the customers and they don't remember what you truly stand for.
What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
Determined, creative, strategic.
I've always been very determined since little. If you ask my parents to describe a trait I possess, they'd say "determination" (I actually asked them that last time I was home). I've always been a high achiever since back in kindergarten. Being self-actualized makes me happy. I set high goals for myself to achieve and I almost always achieve them. I'm very focused and determined. And I know the value of hard work and the power of one's willpower and focus. These have proven to me so many times that if I pour all of my heart and soul into something, it will come out however amazing I want it to be. But if I half-heartedly do something, the outcome might be mediocre and not pleasing. Though, I cope with disappointments well and take them as lessons. My point is if you want to succeed in something great, you have to be very determined.
Creative. I always think about how I and my brand could be different. Differentiation is key to everything–getting your brand and message out there, getting recognized, and becoming liked. You can't attract others or stand out if your product or your brand looks like everything else out there because then you're just another X brand. You need to be creative with the attributes of your brand–from functionality to aesthetics.
Strategic. I am pretty strategic in my thinking (both in life and business). In life, that is what helps me turn life experiences into wisdoms (which I then pass onto our readers/customers). In business, I always think strategically about the industry, the market, the brand, and the customers. What do/did the other brands do that help them become successful? What are their marketing and business strategies? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can we do something different and become superior? Strategy is when you think one or two steps ahead of the game.
What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Find your unique value proposition. A lot of people start a business just because they think it's a nice idea. A nice idea doesn't sell and doesn't last. You need to do something that you are truly good at and are absolutely passionate about. What is it that you are so uniquely good at that others can't compete with you? For me, it's my words of wisdom and my vision in life . I've always wanted to inspire people since I was little, to live a life of passion and purpose–it's the ethos behind our brand and our story. It will always be there. The way I think is ... uniquely the way I think. My voice is uniquely my voice. I have found my unique talents and I then mastered them and turned them into my calling that becomes the service I offer to the world. Find your unique talents and turn them into your unique value proposition.
What has surprised you most about starting a business?
That if you create something that truly adds value to people's lives, your business will sell in itself. I never put much effort into advertising. Of course, we have content (blog posts and quotes) which you can say we use content marketing, but the content has been there way long before I started selling The Happiness Planner. I started writing those blog posts several years before I had the business idea. So it's very authentic. I didn't write those articles to sell something. I wrote them specifically because I wanted to share my words of wisdom and the lessons I learned in life. So it surprises me how well The Happiness Planner has been received given that I haven't done much advertising. And it's because The Happiness Planner truly adds value to people's lives so people want to tell their friends and family about it and recommend those they love to use it too.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
10 years ago I was only 18. I just finished high school and was about to move to Australia. I would probably tell myself not to worry too much. You can make your dreams come true. There's no need to rush. Go one step at the time. You'll get there when the time is right. I was such an ambitious kid and I wanted to accomplish so much in life. But sometimes when you're young and are just starting out, you can be confused and not sure about the path you're taking - you might even be getting a lot of No's and face closed doors. It's okay to remember that even though a No always seems bad at the time, it's just a part of life. The right door will open when you find it. Just keep walking and learning more about what you're passionate and becoming the best at what you're good at. If you want to be successful, you have to be the best in your field. So keep building on your strengths and innate talents.
To learn more about The Happiness Planner, watch our video here.