New book celebrates successes of unique heartland businesses

SINGAPORE - Focus on basics and fundamentals, and your business will grow.

This was the message shared by some of the winners of the inaugural Singapore Heartland Enterprise Star Award, whose stories were shared in a book launched on Monday night.

Launched by the Federation of Merchants' Association Singapore in collaboration with Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, the Singapore Heartland Enterprise Star Award 2014 book is a compilation of stories from the 47 companies nominated for the award this year.

The annual awards, which were given out in April, recognise companies that have succeeded and grown from humble beginnings in the heartlands.

At a panel discussion following the book launch, successful heartland brands like bakery Pine Garden's Cake and sandwich shop Yellow Submarines touched on topics such as their business strategies as well as tips on how to transform a small business into expanding beyond the heartlands.

Mr Alvin Kuek, co-founder of tuition chain Mind Stretcher, remembers going door-to-door alongside founder Kristie Lim to hand out brochures advertising the company 12 years ago.

Despite their efforts, business was slow in the first four years. But it picked up steadily after the founders decided to focus on the basics of providing good service and a comprehensive curriculum.

"If you don't have a good product, it doesn't matter how many brochures you send out. Fundamentals drive the business, so concentrate on the basics," said Mr Kuek, 42.

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo, who attended the event, said: "The uniqueness of heartland businesses need to be highlighted, and their stories to be shared and appreciated."