THE corporate rat race is unforgiving in this dog eat dog world.
While the rewards are certainly gratifying, it is a constant struggle to wear your armour and fight the daily battle that begins as soon as you leave home.
Kuala Lumpur-born Robin Yong decided to ditch his armour and build a business where he sets the rules and family comes before money.
After working in companies for a few years, he opened and ran five successful restaurants and cafes in Melbourne.
He then took the bold step of selling all of them last year to spend more time with his wife, Rachel, and newborn son, Caleb.
“Life before Caleb was all about work, money and getting ahead. While I knew having a child was going to change me in some ways, I didn’t expect to completely shift my focus on everything I thought was important to me,” recounts Yong, who has been living in Melbourne for 13 years.
While he certainly enjoyed the burgeoning success of four of his MoMo Sushi restaurants and Oscar Mike café, 32-year-old Yong took a gamble to sell off his hard-earned efforts.
He admits he could not have it all and it came to a point where he had to make a decision between making money and his new family.
“When Caleb was born in April last year, my initial decision was to keep running the outlets, but at the same time, I had to help Rachel at home.
“We were struggling as first-time parents with little help from family as they were all in KL.
“The businesses could still run, but not to their full potential as it was impossible for me to drive them fully with my new commitments. So I started selling my shops soon after,” says Yong, who was at that time feeling burned out.
He still recalls his pre-fatherhood days, when he would continuously conjure up business ideas.
Yong now runs a business consultancy from home to have time for Caleb. It’s a system that he and Rachel have worked out as she takes over the household and toddler when she is not tutoring as a music teacher.
“It is a different kind of time spent. By the end of the day, I try to get at least four hours of work done, that is, after we’ve cleaned the house. Every day is full-on but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“My life is not as ‘productive’ as your typical entrepreneur but I get to witness every part of my son’s growing moments. If I die today, I will leave a legacy for my family that I was there for them as a father and a husband.
On days where Rachel is not working, Yong will meet his clients or develop his business.
“I consult for new startups or existing businesses that want to expand. Before the business goes ‘live’, I offer end-to-end services from conceptualising, branding, feasibility studies, looking for new business locations, lease negotiations and other operational and managerial tasks.
“When the business is up and running, I assist with administrative tasks, ensure obligations and deadlines are met and periodic support if needed.
“For existing businesses, I will troubleshoot any issues and do quarterly catch-ups with them to see how they are going and help set up strategies to reach their goals,” explains Yong.
Now, he’s working on expanding his client portfolio to entrepreneurs who want to open food and beverage businesses in Malaysia as he is especially passionate about the F&B industry.
“I still enjoy the business aspect of things, it energises and excites me but I have a more important priority now,” he says.
It seems while wages are high in Australia, there are some people who only commit to nothing but their work. As a result, their health suffers and it triggers other issues, concerns are all too familiar to Yong.
“Work and money is always important in our day and age but I have learned that you can never have enough and always want more. Suddenly, it all made sense to me and it is liberating to be released from the never-ending pursuit of material possessions that we think we need.”
While this Superdad lives a simple lifestyle, he allows the occasional splurge on his gadgets and toys once in a while.
“It’s a guy thing, like how women like their shoes, clothing and handbags every now and then.”