Training firm Anagram Group’s founder Liyana Stuart talks about what got her started in this business and her journey together with spouse as well as business partner. They now have over 50 clients, including regional companies in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan in a short span of 2 years is a testament to their business acumen and success as a couple team.
At a young age, Liyana was always interested in stories of people especially business people. Following her dreams, she started off her as a journalist at Singapore Business Review. The chance to hear directly from business people how they started, the challenges they had to overcome were a great learning experience for her.
She would later join American chamber of commerce where she spent a good number of years doing marketing, events management as well as PR. What made it really interesting at that time was the opportunity to network with many other successful females, whether they were business owners or heads of multi-national companies. This was an important exposure as meeting all these women served as a great inspiration to her starting up her own business.
Her husband on the other hand was in banking for more than 15 years. It didn’t seem like they would ever cross paths in career, one being a banker and the other a marketer. However, they saw the gaps when they were working and business opportunities that were available. Most of the corporations needed training and marketing, especially government agencies, MNCs as well as banks.
The Motivations That Kickstarted The Entrepreneurship Journey
Among the things that were on Liyana’s mind was a work life balance. If she were to have a family, being a LadyBoss would allow her more flexibility in controlling her work timing as opposed to being a salaried employee. Another key motivation was to help small and medium enterprises which often lack skills and knowledge in PR issues. 2 years ago, Liyana and her husband founded Anagram Group.
Combining Training and Other Services in One Company
It was a very rare combination to have training and communications, however, it was drawing upon the strength and experience that both Liyana and her husband had. Also, there are potential synergies between both such as cross marketing services. Liyana was also able to tap on her PR skills to push the profiles of their trainers.
“What Are Some of the Challenges You Faced As a Couple Team?”
Both of us are used to getting our own way and always clash when making decisions. After some time, we learnt to set boundaries. Anything relating to marketing and PR I make the call, anything to do with training and management, he makes the call. It’s all about mutual respect.
Also we try not bring work home and talk about work on weekends. Even though it is difficult, we have to remind ourselves to set aside black-out time from work. For more tips on how to do business together as a couple, see 5 Tips on Surviving a Business Partnership with Your Spouse
Turn rivals into partners
Anagram Group revenues have grown by 4 times this year and we are spending more time expanding the business regionally and working with more training companies to expand their course offerings. In fact, many of these training companies were actually our competitors. Rather than viewing your rivals as competitors, you should think about how to leverage them as partners and turn them into your clients.
“Rather than viewing your rivals as competitors, you should think about how to leverage them as partners and turn them into your clients.”
“What Advice Would You Give SMEs Who Need PR?”
New companies should try to generate their own PR if they have little to no budget. They could pitch themselves to the media directly as well. Surveys are another great way to generate PR. We did a training survey, surveying bankers and what their training needs were. We then dangled the results of the survey as a hook, keeping it short and concise.