Serial entrepreneur Emma Pike is back with her new business, Free Spirit: it's Singapore’s first alcohol-free bottle shop.
We love entrepreneurs and small business owners at Honeycombers, which is why we’ve created Launchpad, a comprehensive digital networking platform (with IRL benefits, too) that encourages connection, business support and community. It’s a privilege and pleasure to learn from so many talented and inspiring folks, so we’ve decided to share the love by interviewing some of the lovely Launchpad members. Looking for inspiration? Check out how Emma Pike, co-founder of Free Spirit, gets it done like a boss.
How I get it done: Emma Pike, co-founder of Free Spirit
How and why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve never worked for anyone else; that’s just never been an option in my mind. I started my first business when I was 15 and have been going ever since. I’ve launched several different businesses, from Australia to Hong Kong to Singapore. Farmer’s Market is an online butcher that I started because I couldn’t find the quality of Aussie meat I wanted in Hong Kong. Now, I have established meat delivery businesses in both Hong Kong and Singapore.
Free Spirit was similar. I did a 90-day alcohol-free challenge and I found the selection of alcohol-free drinks available in Singapore really poor. My business partner, Rebecca Forwood, had spotted the same opportunity (the lack of alcohol-free drinks in Singapore) and together we were in a position to act quickly and be the first alcohol-free bottle shop to launch in Singapore. Rebecca and I were both in the food importing business already, so we were able to jump right in and start importing the best alcohol-free beverages to Singapore. Between us, we have lots of e-commerce and marketing experience so we could really hit the ground running.
What’s the secret to your success?
I don’t think too much about what might happen if I fail. I tend to just go for it! I think that’s been the most important character trait that’s helped me succeed in business. Besides that, I’m a good judge of character and I enjoy connecting with all kinds of people. You just never know who will be able to help you grow your business, or who you might be able to help out.
As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. I’m uneducated (I left school at 15), I don’t like to dress in suits, and everything I know about business I taught myself. I used to feel like I didn’t fit in when I networked with higher profile business executives until someone said to me one day that they – as a high-level business executive – felt they weren’t enough talking to me, which blew my mind. So at the end of the day, whatever you do, you’re always enough.
What does the Launchpad community mean to you?
I’m a huge believer in the power of networking to grow a business, so the Launchpad community is a fantastic way for entrepreneurs to connect and lift each other up. For me, it’s collaboration, not competition all the way. There’s enough out there for all of us, so let’s help each other out and share our ideas and experiences!
I’m a big believer that the bigger your network, or community, the better. There’s a great book I read once (and I’m not a reader, trust me) called Tribes by Seth Godin. The book talks about having the support of a community and creating your own following (tribe). As an entrepreneur, that community then becomes your sales staff, your consultants, your everything. When you own a business, it can be difficult to wear multiple hats. So, if you have a community of people to talk to and ask questions, you can get things done faster. And the faster you get things done, the faster you can grow.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Family and friends are extremely important to me, and the ones I have are extremely supportive, honest and loyal. That’s not easy to find, but when you do find it, don’t let it go.
How I get it done: Lightning round
On a typical morning: I get it done by getting organised. Everything I do, from what time the kids’ school bus arrives to booking in time for exercise and work meetings, is in my calendar. Scheduling things allows me to make the most of my day. I’m very conscientious about being not only a business owner, but also a mother, friend, and wife. So I’m intentional about keeping time free for all the things that matter to me. I live and die by my calendar!
On dealing with self-doubt and criticism: Ignore the haters because the haters are always going to hate. I’m not a massive fan of listening to negative people and I try to remove them from my life. Especially in the business I’m in – selling alcohol-free drinks for adults – it’s often the people who are the most negative about it that secretly wish they could cut down themselves!
Personally, I’m a little bit of a risk-taker and a gambler. So if I think an idea has legs, I’ll run with it. There’s always going to be someone that doesn’t agree or has their opinion to share (the same as when you have your first baby). So I just nod my head, take it in, say thanks, and move on. If I choose to take that advice, I do. If I don’t, then I don’t feel any issues with that. If you worry too much about what everyone else has to say, you’ll be going around in circles all day.
On the hardest part about the job: Admin! I love being in the warehouse, seeing customers, talking to people, getting new products in, selling things, and being at events. But I’ve got to admit I’m useless when it comes to the admin of it all.
On keeping stress levels low: I think exercise is my secret weapon against stress. I’ve been sporty all my life (little known fact about me: I was once ranked 96th in the world at squash!) and I still make time every week to play tennis and squash. I like to hang out with my kids and play some sports and I definitely think that helps me release stress.
On staying motivated and energised: I always like to have a new project or new idea to work on, and luckily I have about 20 new ideas per day! The challenge is filtering out all the bad ideas to find the good ones and staying focused on them long enough to see them to fruition. New challenges are what really keeps me motivated. Even though I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 15, launching Free Spirit in 2020 has been great and I love it.
On the advice you’d give your younger self: Charge what you’re worth, not what you think others will pay!
Launchpad is a comprehensive digital networking platform (with IRL benefits, too) that encourages connection, business support and community. It’s designed to make the entrepreneurial journey not only easier, and more successful, but also a whole lot more fun. The platform offers almost daily activities for members to connect, along with regular masterclasses, member networking roulette, small-business mentoring and media profiles on Honeycombers.