Some people think I'm too idealistic. I like thinking outside the box and often come up with all sorts of ideas that I feel may work. Too often, the ideas get shot down even before I can even go to the next stage. Why?
I saw something exciting happening at the old Bukit Timah Fire Station last Sunday. I remember traveling past those imposing red doors on my bus journey to school every day. When we were lucky, we could see fire engines setting off on a mission, sirens wailing as they sped off through those huge wooden doors.
The fire station has been vacant for more than a decade now. The decrepit building and living quarters are surrounded by overgrown weeds but when I ran past the premises last Sunday, I saw some signs of life.
Come July 2008, the entire place will be transformed into an artist village. It will become a bustling hub for art, music and drama schools. As if this is not exciting enough, it is also poised to become an Adventure Hub where sports schools, corporate retreats and holiday camps abound! There will be gourmet restaurants and culinary schools too.
I peered through the fence and saw patches of vacant land and business opportunity. If only I could put some of my shipping containers in there and lease them out to the tenants as storage space, wouldn't it be fantastic? In many countries, refurbished shipping containers provide exceptionally useful storage space for schools and restaurant owners.
All weekend, I envisioned artistically painted containers serving as a useful commodity in this community. Naturally I was excited when I rang the managing real estate agent to discuss about my proposal.
A harrassed voice greeted me on the phone. I politely introduced myself but before I could clearly state my intention, she asked curtly, "Do you have my email?"
When I said "No", she simply blurted out "It's 1,500 sq ft and we are asking for $X per sq ft."
I was mighty pissed. "But you haven't even heard my proposal yet!"
She simply shut me off, "I know you want to rent out your containers as storage space. It is not allowed. Singapore Land Authority will NOT allow it!"
I hung up the phone when what I really wanted to do was tell her to flush her stinking attitude down the toilet. It is times like this that I wish I had more resources to implement some of my ideas.
This is not the first time my idea had been shot down, the most recent one being my plan to build a container office. Such ideas are not even wildly imaginative or crazy. Many are practical or even proven ideas that are just a wee bit more intricate to implement.
When I decided to sell shipping containers 7 years ago, I simply set up a business and started trading without seeking anyone's advice. When the business proved to be viable, many people were surprised. Some said I was courageous, others tried to discourage me by saying it is a high risk business and an inexperienced woman like me wouldn't last very long in a male-dominated industry.
If I had asked and listened, would I be doing what I'm doing today? Sometimes you just have to do it.