by Shawn Ho Yuan Sheng (Singapore)
Hi, my name is Shawn and I would like to use this opportunity to offer my 2 cents worth of advice as well as my general reflections after taking this “Technological Entrepreneurship” course. Hopefully, people who come across this entry in future would find this useful.
My 2 Cents Worth of Advice
1) In the first stage of brainstorming for ideas, it is very important for each team member to write his or her individual ideas on a separate piece of paper. This thought process has to be done entirely on his or her own so that the ideas generated are not influenced by others. All the ideas can then be compiled and the leader of the team can then lead the discussion to shortlist the ideas. At this point, it is very important for the leader and the members to point out the “unique selling point” of the business, the likely constraints that the team will face in executing the business, as well as the specific target audience of this business. If the team members themselves cannot be convinced about the feasibility of the business, the idea should be dropped and they should proceed to evaluate the next idea.
2) My personal view is that any business should start small and have only about 2 to 3 people involved at the initial stages. I say this because having a smaller team would enable the team to be more focused in its discussions and more importantly, the team’s direction. After the business idea has been firmed up and initial plans are in place to execute it, it is then vital for the team to expand to include others with specific skills such as IT skills etc. Of course, for the purpose of this course, I fully understand the time and logistical constraints and how it would be difficult for the instructor to guide a large number of small teams.
3) It is very important to define each team member’s roles and responsibilities clearly so that there is no unnecessary duplication of works. More importantly, the team must be flexible enough to make adjustments to each member’s portfolio as the business will inevitably encounter some changes along the way.
4) It would be a bonus if the team members had a wide range of contacts with the people they are likely to work together with for the business. These could range from people within the university (i.e. fellow students, staff, faculty members) or external parties. More often than not, the progress of the business is slowed down when the team does not have the necessary expertise to executive a specific thing (e.g. IT expertise). As such, having the relevant contacts would increase the likelihood of finding the most suitable people/partners and this would greatly expedite the progress of the business.
5) It is important to secure more than one supplier so as to reduce business risks. Even if the second supplier is not as good as the first in terms of pricing and/or quality of service, it is important to at least know of an alternative supplier should the need arise to approach them for urgent assistance.
1) I was pleasantly surprised to find out about the vast number of support grants available to youths and aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to start up their own business here in Singapore. The Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at SMU for instance offers a great deal of support for aspiring entrepreneurs. In addition, Spring Singapore also has a few schemes available for new start-ups. I am very pleased and heartened to learn that such support organizations exist to offer financial support and advice to young entrepreneurs who may not necessarily have any experience in this field. It is important though, in my opinion, for these organisations to increase their efforts in publicising these schemes to educational institutions as well as to the public. After speaking to quite a number of my classmates and friends, it appears that most of us were unaware of such support programmes prior to enrolling in this course.
2) I also developed a new found respect for entrepreneurs after taking this course. After listening to the course instructor and other entrepreneurs sharing their experiences, I gained a greater understanding of the numerous challenges that these people have overcome to make their business as successful as it is today. The passion that these entrepreneurs have for their business, their never-say-die attitude, as well as their perseverance in their ideas is something that all of us can learn a lot from.
Overall, I have no regrets taking this course as I feel it has certainly enabled me to gain a greater insight into the world of entrepreneurs. I highly recommend this course and its instructor Pamela Lim to anyone who might be considering enrolling in it.