by Ong C S (Singapore)
My first limited start-up experience happened in my final year of my varsity life when I setup a partnership together with 2 other friends to offer our services to develop software applications. We advertised in classified ads for 2 weeks before we finally got a project to develop a customer database and service booking application for a small utility service company. We are so thrilled to get this deal. Being young & inexperienced, scope creeps keep happening and we end up doing more than we first agreed with the client. Soon disagreement in approach surfaced, other priority in each of our youthful life popped up and after this one & only project we completed, one of my friend decided to pull out. So the partnership fizzled out.
In early 2002, I was headhunted to join my current company (a US MNC selling mobile computing solution) to start-up their business in Asia. From virtually ground zero, the company has grown from a Representative Office in Singapore to being a fully subsidiary and the HQ for Asia Pacific and Middle-East region. I cover the Asia region spanning from India to Japan and Korea to Indonesia with the help of my team in Singapore, KL, Shanghai and Mumbai. Despite the success achieved, I sense that I can do much more and my potential is not fully realized. Being a US-centric company, the top priority for my parent company is not Asia. We are not in control of product development and have to sell whatever that is available. Marketing budget is always limited and you have to be creative to get the best out of it. It started to get frustrating as years goes by and it felt like I am guarding a remote outpost waiting for the main battalion that are supposed to come but never did.
So early 2008, I decided enough is enough; I need to step out of my comfort zone and start taking control of my career. I decided to go back to school to validate my working experience (there is no continuous training program in my company). I enrolled into the TEN programme as it interests me and I thought that my experience so far is nearer to a start-up enterprise than a MNC.
I really enjoy the TEN programme so far. Although I miss joining my son for his football session, bringing my daughter for her abacus lesson and quality time with my family, the TEN programme enriches my life differently. The class is cosy and dynamic. We have quality lecturers and each module provided us with different valuable insights in running your own business.
The idea to venture out on my own gets stronger each day but it is not easy for a happily married man with financial commitment, a loving wife and 3 wonderful children to take the plunge.
I am not an entrepreneur yet.
I am still at the crossroad, waiting for the signs.
Hopefully the signs will appear soon and led me to the right path.