Believing that the entertainment industry tends to favour the young, Azura has decided to try her hand at building a couple of businesses.
When a celebrity or entertainer decides to expand their horizons and become an entrepreneur, quite often they tend to go into areas that are related to entertainment such as talent agency, TV production or events management.
It’s quite rare for them to go into an area of business that is totally unrelated to entertainment but that is exactly what radio and TV star Azura Zainal has done. She is still primarily an entertainer but in anticipation of a career beyond that, she has ventured into two rather unusual niche businesses: car insurance and martial arts studio.
Growing up, she neither aspired to be a celebrity nor a businesswoman. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be either a marine biologist or an archaeologist – anything to do with nature,” she says. Instead, she ended up being a host for the Disney Channel in Asia.
As a pretty teenager, she had been cast for several TV commercials. One day, while waiting for her SPM results, she got a call from her mother asking her to go for a casting. She thought it was for yet another TV commercial but it turned out to be for a hosting position for Disney Buzz, a new flagship show for Disney Channel Asia.
Since then, she hasn’t looked back and has tried all kinds of work in the entertainment line including TV hosting, radio deejaying, events emceeing, theatre acting, movie acting, singing, dancing – you name it, she’s done it. “I have been in the entertainment industry for 16 years now and still loving it!” she says.
But believing that the entertainment industry tends to favour the young, she has decided to try her hand at building a couple of businesses – one with her sister and the other with her husband.
She still does radio and TV. She has a variety show called The Red Knights that airs on RED FM from 8pm to 12am and an adventure show called X-plorasi which airs on RTM every Saturday at 2pm.
So, entertainment is still her bread and butter. But diversifying is very important to Azura. “In the entertainment business, you have a shelf-life,” she says. “You cannot just expect to always be on the air. I don’t know how long I have until I’m done with TV/Radio. I could still be doing it for some time more but what if it doesn’t last? I need to be ready for that.”
One of the businesses she’s involved in is called Gcabxi Insurance Agency, a collaboration with her elder sister, which makes it easy for people to renew their car insurance and giving them some cash back when they become members of the agency.
The other business that she’s involved in is a fitness studio called Caboco, which she runs with her husband who hails from Brazil. “We have martial arts classes like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Capoeira and dance fitness classes Zumba,” she says.
Azura says she could have gone into an entertainment-related business, which would be the natural thing to do given her current profession but she believes it’s a crowded field. “Lots of entertainers are taking that route, why should I get into something that everyone else is already doing?” she asks.
“I think I can grow more as an entrepreneur if I did something different and besides, I feel the businesses that I’m involved in serves a good purpose, providing people with services they really need,” she says. “Everybody needs to renew their car insurance and everybody needs to get fit. Not everybody needs talent management or TV production services.”
She says the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur is dealing with the doubters and naysayers who don’t think she can make it in the world of business. “Psyching myself up every day and maintaining a positive attitude takes a lot of practice and it’s tough,” she says.
To keep herself focused, she attends trainings and seminars, and listens to CDs about entrepreneurship. “I know that success doesn’t come overnight and there is definitely no short-cut, so I’m prepared to work hard at it,” she says. “I’m still very new at this and definitely need a lot of grooming. If anybody who wants to be my mentor, please let me know!”
Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant.