by Vincent Ng Say Ho (SMU (Singapore)
When I first signed up for the module Technological Entrepreneurship I was told by my friend who had taken the class previously that it was an experience to behold. Truth be told, it was an arduous journey in setting up a business but I felt that I had developed better as an individual and learnt many ropes of the trade in the process. In writing this journal, I will be sharing my personal experiences with you.
It all began with a group of 8 strangers coming together to start a business. Along the journey we learnt how to tap on individual strengths and overcome differences to create a high performing cohesive unit. The people define the business and for the business to succeed there must be the presence of a strong management backbone. While it was relatively easier to identify the strengths of an individual through the observation of actions and tapping on it, overcoming differences were more of a challenge. I coped with this issue by adopting a macro perspective – trying to see how another team mate’s views and vision for the company will benefit the business in the long run.
‘Be appreciative of every opportunity that comes along your way and take every experience as a learning opportunity’. This is the mindset that I believe young entrepreneurs should adopt. As a budding young entrepreneur, I believe in doing everything on my own and learning the rope of the trade across the entire value chain.
If there was one thing that would set a business running, that would have to be the hunger to succeed. I recall having being interviewed by Ms Anthonia Hui, a renowned private banker turned entrepreneur who worked her way up from a bank teller position to opening her own wealth management consulting firm where she shared with me her entrepreneurship story. It was a difficult interview having the CEO of a company staring straight in your face and bombarding you with questions that you have to handle with pace and wit. The formal interview only lasted 15 minutes but the next 30 minutes was spent having a stranger challenging me mentally and emotionally on lessons in an entrepreneur’s life. I did not get the job, but walked away having learnt important lessons in life:
1. Know yourself first before setting out to do anything. You may not see yourself clearly so be open to what other people say about you. The outsider can always provide a more objective view and that certain someone who is able to point it out to you is a true friend.
2. Know what you want in life and make sure you go all out for it. If you strive to be an entrepreneur then make sure you read up, interact and communicate extensively with successful entrepreneurs out there. If you cannot help yourself then do not expect other people to lend you a helping hand.
3. Determination alone will not get you anywhere, for that you may be putting your efforts in the wrong place. Hunger is what drives you and not to rest on your laurels. Hunger is what makes you want to make your enterprise grow larger and stay ahead of the rest.
In bringing these philosophies to the team and sharing it with my team members, we were able to get the business up and running. Having said this, I never had a chance to meet Ms Anthonia Hui and will like to take this opportunity to thank her once more.
This course has been an emotional one for me as well. While we learnt lessons on how to start a business and skills required for it, I personally felt that there was scarce mention of a failed business and the effect it has on others. While success is constantly in the limelight, we tend to forget that there are many entrepreneurs whose business did not take off as well. My family had endured the effects of a failed business where my childhood was spent scrimping and saving so as not to be an additional financial liability to my father who was struggling to maintain his shipping business. The end result was that my father was so emotionally attached to the business and perceived himself as having failed in life when the 1997 Asian financial crisis struck.
I cannot deny that I had a phobia when I knew I had to start a business in this course. However, the process of incorporating the company, dealing with rejections from clients and the mounting pressure to deliver profits made me better understand the ordeal my father had undergone in hope of creating a better life for the family. I came to better understand the ethical and social values of an entrepreneur and the personal costs involved as well, which I hope Prof will further look into in her future teaching material.
Entrepreneurship is all about taking charge of your life and making your dream a reality. To conclude this journal, I will like to end off with the quote ‘It is all about you’. It is about your dream, your state of mind, your passion and your hunger whether you want make a difference in your life today.
Thank you Prof Pamela Lim.
Vincent Ng Say Ho