Ep555: Michelle Hon – Don’t Build a Business Only to Boost Your Ego

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Quick take

BIO: Michelle Hon is the author of The Chill Mom, founder, and business coach for moms at MomBoss Academy.

STORY: Michelle spent half of her life savings on a soup and salad bar that she had to close down after a month due to the wrong location.

LEARNING: Don’t build a business for yourself or boost your ego. Build a business because it fills a market gap. Build systems and frameworks that enable you to implement and replicate your business ideas.


“Swallow that humble pie and ask for help from experts.”

Michelle Hon


Guest profile

Michelle Hon is the author of The Chill Mom, founder, and business coach for moms at MomBoss Academy.

She was named by Zine as one of the “Top 10 Mommy Influencers in the World,” and she’s been featured regularly on Channel News Asia, The Asian Entrepreneurs, Lifetime Asia, Asian Money Guide, SmartParents, and many other publications.

Worst investment ever

In 2010, Michelle decided to open a soup and salad bar after working in employment since age 16. She spent almost a year researching and coming up with a thick business plan. She got a space, renovated it, formulated the recipe, and was ready to open the doors.

Within the first month of business, she knew the company would not work because it was in the wrong location.

Lessons learned

  • Don’t build a business for yourself or just to boost your ego. Build a business because it fills a market gap.
  • Get advice from someone in the same business space.
  • Borrow from systems and frameworks that successful people or businesses are using instead of trying to build new ones.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Build systems and frameworks that enable you to implement and replicate your business ideas.
  • Don’t get so excited about your idea and forget to focus on how to implement it.

Actionable advice

Slow down and find people who have done this before and ask them about their systems and the critical things that have gotten them to where they are today.

No.1 goal for the next 12 months

Michelle’s goal for the next 12 months is to take her family on holiday.

Parting words


“Just go for it. We have this one sweet life. Whatever you want to do, just go for it. You never know where it will take you.”

Michelle Hon


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:01
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risk. But to win big, you've got to reduce it. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. To reduce risk in your life, go to my worst investment ever.com today and take the risk reduction assessment I created from the lessons I've learned from more than 500 guests. Fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests. Michelle Hahn. Michelle, are you ready to join the mission?

Michelle Hon 00:42
Yes, I am. Andrew,

Andrew Stotz 00:44
I'm excited to have you on and let me tell you, let me tell the audience about you. Michelle is author of the chill mom, founder and business coach for moms at mom boss Academy. She was named by Xen as one of the top 10 Mommy influencers in the world. And she's been featured regularly on Channel News, Asia, the Asian entrepreneurs, lifetime Asia, Asian money guides, smart parents, and many other publications. Michelle, take a minute, and tell us about the value that you bring to this wonderful world.

Michelle Hon 01:24
Hi, thank you, Andrew, thanks for the amazing question. I like to think that the value that I bring to the world is showing people that they could do anything that they want to do just that, it doesn't have to be you know, because it's not had to say like, whatever you want to achieve in life, it doesn't have to be bound by your your background, where you come from, or even your external circumstances, it's all comes from within. And if you set a goal, you can achieve it.

Andrew Stotz 02:01
Let's talk about that for a moment. Because why is it that people don't think that we naturally

Michelle Hon 02:09
think it's just a lot of fear? People don't want to be, you know, people worried? How would people see them, like, you know, the fear of judgment from others, which is normal, right? It's normal for us to judge people and get judgment. But at the end of the day, what I've learned is that it doesn't matter. Who cares? Who cares? What other things just do it right? Are you going to live your life being bound by the judgment of others? Or are you just gonna give it a goal, and at the end of the day, you know, as morbid as it may sound, we all gonna leave this world? And what are you going to do with this one precious life of yours?

Andrew Stotz 02:52
That's a challenge for the whole audience, you know, to think about, I was just thinking, as you were talking, like, I've been in this Facebook group of my high school friends, you know, and I wasn't popular in high school, and I was, I was into drugs, I was in alcohol, I was in trouble. And then I faded out, I went through rehab in my final year of high school, so people didn't really even know what happened to me. So they're kind of surprised to find me back alive in. And now you know, all of a sudden, I have a bit of a big story to tell. And I realized that all the people I thought were so cool, are many of them have crashed and done all kinds of, you know, disastrous things. And here I am, you know, standing and then you made me think like, did it really matter that I was so worked up at some point in my senior year that someone so didn't like me or that this didn't you know what it means nothing. And I left, you know, I left high school, and I left treatment rehab. And I've been sober for 40 years, and I left and I just went on a journey to California and then to Thailand, and then to build a career, and just to build my own business and do everything that I wanted to do. And what I also thought about when you said that was I was in Hong Kong, and I was speaking and some students came up to me and they said, I have an accounting. You know, I studied accounting, and I want to work in finance. But I heard it's hard to, you know, transition from accounting. And I said, you heard from WHO? Oh, I don't know, somebody said, so you're gonna let your life be run by what somebody said.

Michelle Hon 04:22
It was right. That's right. That's right. Yeah. And look how far you've come. Right. If you are bound by where you were, how uncool you were, and the drugs and all that, you know, good on you for moving past that and really do what you do best right now, Andrew, so proud of you, and thanks for sharing that. Yeah,

Andrew Stotz 04:43
that's that's a pretty it's in you bring me back. Now, before we get into the big question, can you just tell the audience like for people that like what you what you stand for what you've talked about and what you talk about here? What's the best way for them to you know, get more of you

Michelle Hon 05:01
Do you mean how they could find me where else you could? So I am I'm most active on Instagram. So you can find me at the chill mom with a mo LM. And yeah, so I talked about I'm, I think I like, Yeah, I do show all aspects of my life. I have started as a blogger. So you can see, you know, my daily life as a mom, how I take care of myself, beauty, health routine. And also, of course, now entrepreneurship and really just living my best life. I think a lot of people use that word. And I feel that it's overused sometime, I'm just living my life to my best ability that

Andrew Stotz 05:48
I think we all want to get there. So Instagram will have the link for that as well as all the links in the show notes. Well, now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one goes into their worst investment thinking it will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it, then tell us your story.

Michelle Hon 06:06
All right, so my worst investment ever. I've always wanted to be a business owner, obviously, with no experience at all. So what happened was, I've always been, well, not a business owner, I started working when I was 16 years old. Well, I did not come from a well to do family. So I had to support myself and support my family at one point as well, at 16 years old. I've always been working for myself, at 16, I started modeling until I was 24. And I realized that that's not something that I can continue doing. I want to grow and I know that I can't be model forever. So then I moved to Australia and kind of like start renew started to study again. And and, and you know, I got into the whole corporate wall working for other people. And I realized that I've always had my own idea, but in the corporate world, I bring things up to you know, upper management, and they always are that's too hard to implement blah, blah, blah, that's great idea, but pushback and I'm like, Okay, I want to do my own thing. And I was into you know, call it more wholesome healthy food at that point. And this is back in 2010. And that's not really I think it's a slightly ahead of its time in Singapore anyway. But I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna start my own soup and salad bar. And, you know, I believe I'm not the only one that you know, you want your own cafe you want your own restaurant for people to hang out at right so I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna do that right this is my idea. Like I think it was great idea. Obviously, it wasn't I spent almost a whole year researching with this like this thick of a business plan right? Go ahead, renovated the place with formulated the recipe and everything I spend more than half of my life saving at that point, right? Because I started working at 16 So 30 years old I started that's like more than half my life savings gone into that and within the first month of business I know it's not going to work it's just not it's a bad location you

Andrew Stotz 08:31
remember the moment that you kind of realized like that day or that morning or that whenever that the the hope and excitement turned into

Michelle Hon 08:40
Yeah, yeah do is probably like by the second or third week as I do the math is like this is not going to turn like we've tried the first week you're still excited Oh you know opening there's still people visiting you your friends will go out of the way and calm and then the second day is like oh I still got you know it's okay maybe people just don't know about us. Yeah, we try everything flyers these that right? Let's do delivery as well. And but yeah, but does that second that wakes like okay, this is these are my cost.

Andrew Stotz 09:15
Did you feel at that time?

Michelle Hon 09:19
Oh, no, just physically, like when people talk about high pain, like your headache, I could feel it physically, like is aching? I think maybe five or six years afterwards after that failure is still ache every time I think about it. But now. I think I've now that I come out of it and have built something else. I see that as a lesson and a story that I can now share so it hurts a bit less.

Andrew Stotz 09:53
Let's go through the lessons that you learn. How would you describe them?

Michelle Hon 09:58
Yeah, so for me Like I was so into my point of view, right, I want to do this, this is something that I would want, I'm starting that business for myself. And I did not consider, like anyone else want that, especially in that location we were. And also because, you know, I was trying to, oh, let's get him on. Because well, property in Singapore is expensive and rent is expensive. So let's not go into the CBD. And let's just be in the city fringe, we get a bit of traffic, you know, lunch traffic, but nighttime weekend debt absolutely dead. And also, we also did not consider that our cheaper food option around us. And because we're making everything wholesome, and our food costs was really high. Right. And, yeah, I will say that I just did not do enough market research. And I was building that business for myself or my own ego. And I did not listen to perhaps other people's opinion, or someone who is more experienced in the whole FMB space and to get feedback from them before I went into it. But what happened was that it did not all go to waste. While I did wasted the money on the whole decked out interior and all but the original idea what I did was, I had to swallow my pride. And like, Okay, this won't be a cafe. It won't be like my own space, but I forget to chill and coffee and things like that, I had to downsize and move into a food court. So it's not like entirely like go to zero, I just still had retained some parts of it move into a food court. And although the rent was two and a half times more than what I was paying, it was profitable from day one.

Andrew Stotz 11:55
Because the people were there,

Michelle Hon 11:57
because if people were there and they had a system, it was a bit dull, you know, you move into food court and Singapore, like your photos, and everything else has to look standard as the other stalls. You're like, you know, you're taking my creativity out of here, and is that oh, my foot looks like we have to use the same utensils. But hey, who cares about like, what I think you know, how unique the branding is? Are there enough people like people who run this full court, they know, they know their business, they know what works. So the big lesson that I learned here is that hey, listen to systems and frameworks that have successful people or successful businesses, they've already got that use that instead of you know, staying in my ego and say I want to do things a certain way. So that was my, my worst investment and they say like the worst Joshua could have made Yeah,

Andrew Stotz 12:57
and what ended up happening with the food court situation so

Michelle Hon 13:01
we weren't doing well for two years. And then we expanded to another food court and was doing well as well. And then motherhood happened. So I was okay with you know, working 13 hours a day, FnB and Singapore, the staff turnover is also very high. So I'm okay, some days being there. But then when my baby came is like, do I want to put this child into a baby care center while I work 13 hours a day? Or do I want to be there for her. And I'm originally from Malaysia, and my husband is from Australia. So we do not have any family support here. So it's either a helper at home or Baby Care Center. And you know, I continue to work hard, and I'm like, okay, so you know, as the leads were coming, I'm like, I can always go back to that if I want to. But right now I want to be there for my baby. So yeah, I just basically gave up the business to be a stay at home mom.

Andrew Stotz 14:03
Yeah. All right. Well, maybe I'll uh, I'll summarize some of my takeaways, you know, some of the things that I was writing down stuff as you were speaking, the first thing that you mentioned that made me really think is you were saying how that your big bosses would always say too hard to implement. And then you ended your whole time talking about systems and frameworks. And part of what makes something be able to be implemented is having systems and frameworks so that it can be implemented and replicated. So it's like you came full circle. Yeah. And that's, that's pretty interesting. Um, the other thing that I wrote down was like, I looked at it from my point of view, and I think for all the listeners, you know, Michael Gerber talks about it in his book, The E Myth, he calls it the entrepreneurial seizure. You get so excited about your idea, nothing can stop Yep. And I can't tell you the number of people that come to me because I've started up businesses and they say, you know, I want to hear your advice. And then, and then they don't want to hear my advice. Or they're not listening to my advice. So I always make a point of saying to someone, when they've told me their whole story, okay, tell me your story. Okay. And then I'll think about it. And then I asked him, so are you here to tell me your story? Are you here to get my advice? And I make them acknowledge that they're asking me for my advice, or not? Yeah, and, and so like, I had a friend of mine, that was his, he and his wife are older, they don't have a lot of money. And they saw this opportunity on the internet to do forex trading. Now, from my experience, about 95.7374% of the time, forex trading on the internet is a scam. And so they kept telling me about how they want to do and I just, are you asking me for my, because he's the husband cuz they ask Andrew for his advice. But then the wife said, so we're gonna do this. And I was like, Okay, you're not asking me for my advice. I'm not giving it

Michelle Hon 16:12
your validation that they thought is correct.

Andrew Stotz 16:15
Right. And, they didn't get it from me. And then they invited me to go to some event. I said, No, thanks. And, but anyways, it, it just made me you know, there's a lot that I was thinking about. But I also wrote the idea of all in, you know, when you start a business, you know, ultimately you do have to kind of go all in, if you started, like absolute bare bones, Maybe nobody's going to come, you know, so like, it's a tough decision. And, you know, you got to build it out. I do like one of my friends back in America, where my sister lives in Salem, Massachusetts, he has a coffee shop. And it is the most simplest coffee shop I've ever seen. Sweep the floors, simple chairs, is an espresso machine. There's some milk, and later he added sandwiches, but I mean, he made it the most simplest business. And, you know, in that sense, he went all in on simplicity. And the last thing is, you know, I just want to highlight the idea of systems and frameworks, because I'm an analyst, and I'm into systems and frameworks. In fact, for investing in we do a lot of management of people's money, and we use systems and frameworks. Yeah. And I never, ever make ad hoc decisions, like, Oh, my God, this is happening in the markets, and I'm going to sell this and buy that. Whereas that's what I think a lot of young people think. And maybe what I thought when I was young, is what makes you great in the markets. No, it's about relying on your systems, and frameworks. And so for the audience out there, I think it's really, really great reminder, anything you would add to my takeaways.

Michelle Hon 17:52
Yeah, definitely. I think like, people don't like to think you know, the younger me, we didn't like to think of system everywhere, because it's boring. And people don't talk about that, because it's boring. It is what needed to be done or doesn't sound sexy, right. But whereas passion and purpose and how we're going to change the world, that sounds more exciting. So I think more people talk about that, especially for entrepreneurs, or even successful one, they talk about how the original idea or media tend to cover that side of the story more than how they built the framework, and how they built that system to support them to get to where they are today.

Andrew Stotz 18:29
So don't be seduced by all the ideas and all the worries, right? Well, and the point is, is that the reason why systems and frameworks are so critical is because in order to build a really successful business, you have to scale. And that means you have to replicate your product or service 1000s, if not millions of times, and you can't do that successfully without good systems and frameworks. Now, based upon what you learned from this story. And what you continue to learn? What action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate? They're out there right now they're looking for location for that amazing shop or bakery or whatever. They're really excited. Michelle, they need to hear from you. What's that? One thing that they should do?

Michelle Hon 19:16
I wish, if I could go back in time is to really slow down and find who have done this before. And ask them what have they put in place? What was important in the journey that have gotten them to where they are today and really just swallow that humble pie and just ask for help. Because I did not ask for help. I felt like I could do this myself. So yeah, that's the number one thing that I wish I had done.

Andrew Stotz 19:48
Ask for help from an expert ladies and gentlemen, great advice. And this is a great way that you can reduce your risk and as I always tell people, whenever you are asking for someone's help or Our opinion, the best thing to do is make sure you have paper and pencil with you, and write down what they say. Because it is very, very difficult to speak and write at the same time, which basically means it forces you to listen. Alright, what is a resource that either you've developed or you've used, that you'd recommend for our listeners?

Michelle Hon 20:23
A resource, I find that since, you know, after the many lives, I had, you know, closing out my business, become a mommy blogger, become a business owner, and now teaching other people is the number one resources that is available to all of us is ourself is our own personal branding. Who are you? What do you stand for? And you know, your good name? What does it represent? And that's one resource that you could tap into, and then put out there in the world, don't be afraid to show the world what you've got to offer. And that's why I love the first question that you asked me, What's the value that you think you can bring into the world? I have not thought about it, like I asked myself that way. But I've always believed that each of us have, each of us has a good name that we can put out in the world, like, just the internet, and everything now is free, like for yourself, you started this podcast is free to start, essentially. And so do that. Right? That's your that's the resource that all of us have, and that it will be valuable for everyone to tap into, in a way.

Andrew Stotz 21:40
Yeah. And that's it, the great thing about it is you don't have read a lot of marketing books to come up with some original thing because your story, your value is original. Absolutely. Before I ask you the last question, I just share a little story, since your mom boss, and since you've had a lot of experience, in this way, I want to tell a good story about motherhood. And that is that I, you know, I went through a lot of hard times when I was young with drug addiction, as I'd mentioned, but my mom and dad both, they never gave up on me. And I always say to people never give up because kids can be into a lot of trouble. But things can change. Somebody can come along in their life, maybe it's not oftentimes not the parents that are the ones but sometimes it is my parents never gave up on me. And they supported me as I got sober and spent the world you know, life, traveling the world and working and building up my career. And they were always there for me. And my mother, my father passed away about six years ago, and my mother had had a stroke. And basically at 78, she asked me, could you take care of me in Thailand. And we had a discussion between her and myself and my sister. And absolutely. So it's been six years now that my mother has been living with me in Thailand. And I can tell you that it's been, you know, a challenging six years, both for her. And for me, there's full of emotional and physical challenges. But the relationship that we've built in the last six years, has taken us to the stratosphere as far as connecting to each other. And so, you know, I just a lot of times when we think about motherhood, we think about that time when we're young, and you're taking care of a kid or kids being taken care of by mom or dad. But I just want to inspire all those people listening that think about what your parents did for you, and make sure that you're delivering that back to them. And when you do that, as a friend of mine, when I asked a friend of mine for advice, who had done the same in Thailand with his mother, he said is going to be hard as hell. But he said my path my mother passed away 10 years ago, but I don't regret one moment of it. It's something that it's an action you can take in your life that you will never regret. And that's my little story about my mom. She just, she and I just had our coffee this morning. And she just went out for lunch with one of the ladies that takes care of her. So that's my little story.

Michelle Hon 24:12
Yeah, yeah, yep, definitely family's always comes first. And that's why I you know, I had no regrets for giving up my business to be a stay at home mom. And if I had not done that, I probably wouldn't be where I am today. So you never know where one thing's what leads you to another so, you know, besides my story and how horrible it went down. I do want people who has a dream to start their own business and just really just do go for it, but with caution and get the advice that you need.

Andrew Stotz 24:45
So last question, what is your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Michelle Hon 24:49
My number one goal now that the wall is opening up again and I would love to take my family on holiday. That's it I'm

Andrew Stotz 25:00
like a normal thing but yeah. Oh, you're

Michelle Hon 25:04
correct. Yeah, but we haven't been able to do that for the past two years. So this year I want to take them on to like a long all expense paid by me holiday. Yeah, to Japan or euro, wherever that, you know, we can have a consensus with on like, where to go. And my kids are finally old enough. They're like 810 and six, because when they're in the youngest bit hot, right, so now that we could actually show them how people at the other side of the world leaves and you know, the culture and everything like that,

Andrew Stotz 25:35
so Well, we look forward to watching that on Instagram. Well, yeah, listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. If you haven't yet taken the risk reduction assessment, I challenge you to go to my worst investment ever.com Right now, and start building wealth the easy way by reducing risk. As we conclude, Michelle, I want to thank you again for joining our mission and on behalf of a Stotz Academy I hear by award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Michelle Hon 26:12
My parting word is just go for it. I know I know you hear of like was investment ever story over here, but just go for it. I mean, we have that one sweet life, whatever you want to do, just go for it. You never know where it will take you

Andrew Stotz 26:28
beautiful advice and that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers today. We expanded our mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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