Technological Entrepreneurship: Opportunity Identification is unlike any other class that I have attended in the course of my four-year study in SMU. Initially I was shocked that we were expected to set up a business within the short time span of 15 weeks. However I have since learnt that sometimes the best way to make things work is to simply start doing without thinking so much! As Nike’s advertising slogan goes, “Just do it!”
In the process of my team and I making mistakes, learning from them, and improving on the business, the business eventually worked itself out. Taking a plunge into the deep end to start up a business has been a memorable experience. Experience and failure are both great teachers.
In the same vein, I realized that there is no better substitute to learn about business than managing one myself. All the theories and textbook knowledge that I have learnt in other courses, while useful to a certain extent, does not teach me to manage a business successfully because there is no hard and fast way of running a business.
And although I have learnt how to write impressive and snazzy business plans in other courses, I learnt that in the real corporate world, no one would bother to read through an entire business plan. And often, all the theoretical material that I usually include in my business plans is not desirable in the real corporate world. This leads me to think that SMU should provide a module that teaches students to write relevant business plans that are actually being used in the real world.
Also from this course I learnt that flexibility is an important characteristic of an entrepreneur. Specifically, I learnt how to take in constructive criticism and modify my business plan. That being said, it is also important to filter the advice received and be decisive in determining which advice is constructive and which is not.
Initially, my group was receiving so much feedback and suggestions that we lost direction because we were trying to incorporate all the information received. However, we’ve managed to whittle down the advice and use the relevant ones to improve upon our business plan and chuck away the less appropriate advice.
One particular memorable lesson that I have learnt from a guest speaker was the low opportunity cost of being an entrepreneur presently. In the past, I was told that I should only be an entrepreneur after I have gained the relevant working experience as an employee. However, the guest speaker provided an alternative perspective of being an entrepreneur as a student or fresh graduate because we have nothing to lose. This has definitely gotten me seriously thinking of being an entrepreneur.
To conclude, what I find most beneficial of this course besides the hands-on experience of setting up and running a business is the practical advice that Professor Pamela Lim gave stemming from her own entrepreneurial experience. Such as what to look out for in contracts signed with venture capitalists and confidentiality disclosure agreements. Such advice is not given or learnt in other courses that I’ve taken before and I think it’s great that Professor Lim is willing to share all these “secrets of the trade” with her class.