by Claire (Singapore)
Ask me whether I would be a entrepreneur 2 years ago and I bet you would get a stern “No!” from me. It would never have crossed my mind to be an entrepreneur. Here’s why: I grew up in a family where my dad and mum have been stuck with the same job they have worked with from day one and truth be told, their jobs enabled my family to enjoy a more than average lifestyle. My brother and I had the privilege of taking music lessons both on the piano and the violin from young. My family travels together almost annually for a family holiday and throughout my growing years, my parents have never had issues with money or the lack of it.
Growing up this way convinced me that all I had to do was to study something I enjoyed, get a great employer and work your heart out to maintain lifestyle that I wanted.
However things change as I enrolled into SMU and got exposed to entrepreneurship through 2 modules. Firstly, “Technology and World Change (TWC)” and “Technical Entrepreneurship and Opportunity Identification“. Our Professor Pamela Lim enabled us to learn more about the different technology start-ups like facebook, eBay, Amazon.com and Apple. Though I am not a person who would be naturally interested in starting a technology company, Prof Pamela Lim helped me to see that it was not difficult to make a business out of something you were passionate about. Her passion for the subject together with her strong credentials truly inspired me to start something of my own.
Soon, during my term break, I started a small online business selling handmade jewelry and quickly found success. Though I was not earning big money at that time, I found a way to make money through doing something that I enjoyed and that gave me great satisfaction. My interest in entrepreneurship grew and I was informed by Prof Pamela Lim that she would be teaching another class focusing on Entrepreneurship. I quickly jumped at the idea as I wanted to learn the ropes of being an entrepreneur.
Throughout the course, I learnt 2 important things:
Firstly, as Steve Jobs mentioned in his speech (in the video attached above); STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH! Throughout the class, we had the the opportunity to be truly be foolish. We had the chance to think of ideas in groups, get shot down by your group members and then present the group idea to the class and get shot down by the class again. In fact I learnt that foolishness was the element that led many great entrepreneurs to their current success. Prof Pamela Lim truly facilitated our ‘foolishness’ as she never once said to any group: “Your idea is not workable” in fact, she would constantly improve on the group’s idea and give them the feedback necessary to enhance the initial idea. And it turned out that many of the groups in my class today who initially had “foolish” ideas ended up with businesses that have unlimited opportunities.
Secondly, listen to criticism. I learnt this from the group that founded FUND-A-FRIEND who ended up starting a non-profit organization. Initially when the group started out with FUND-A-FRIEND, they had alot of negative feedback from the class. In fact, most of us were skeptical about their business. The group managed to take in all the negative feedback and made constructive changes to their business and ended up with an applaudable business idea. In this current climate, I thought that they came up with a very timely business. And through this, I learnt that we must all learn how to take criticism. Instead of going in the direction of giving up or going in the other direction of insistently sticking to your path, evaluate the comments that are given to you and find a resolution between those comments and your current business.
The opportunities for an entrepreneur are limitless. And as I graduate this year, I am looking forward to a wonderful year ahead of opportunities, foolishness and lots of careful listening. I hope that I would be able to channel whatever I have learnt into my current business and create something meaningful.