by Tan Weiting Janice (Singapore)
Unlike most people in Singapore, I was brought up to think that being a businessman is the way to go. However, I always felt that I was not cut out to be one and was contented with just getting a stable job with a decent income. Still there was a niggling feeling, I mean who does not like the idea of doing something where you have control of, potentially good money and the best part, it would not be a job- but something you enjoy and believe in. Sounds good, but I feel that not many people, including me, are willing to give up that sense of security and take a step into the unknown.
Call it fate or what, I did not know about this course until my friend told me about it. He said that I would actually have the chance to start my own business and that it was a fun and interactive course. Immediately, I was interested. This course would provide me the opportunity to ‘try out’ and see if starting a business is for me. Being a typical SMU student, I naturally tried to map this course with one of my courses but there was none hence I was faced with a dilemma as to whether I should take up the course, which will inevitably give me more workload and of course run the risk of not doing well in the course. Still, I decided to take up the course and I am lying when I say that this course is relaxing. Because IT’S NOT! There is quite a bit of work to be done, but interestingly, I never felt that the workload weighed me down. Sure there are times I do complain, but before I knew it, the weeks flew by and here I am, wishing that the course would be longer. Looking back, despite the heavy workload and the fact that I do not need to do this course, I would still have chosen to do it.
Starting a business is not as difficult as I thought it was, but succeeding in the business is challenging. When I was working on the business with my group, there were many takeaways which I cannot get in other courses. For example, commitment. Commitment has taken on a new definition altogether. In all my other courses, commitment just meant doing your part of the project, putting in ample effort. But, when it comes to business, doing your part is NOT enough. There are many things which I had to do, like knowing more about engineering. I could always leave it to the IT guy-Zhen Rong to go find out more. Seriously, GPRS? RFID? As long as the product works, I never once bothered about it. However, now that it is my business (I mean literally), I feel the need to understand everything, including the technologies and so I did, though it was not part of my job scope. I may not be a subject expert, but I definitely can tell people more about locating technologies now.
Also, in the course, I learnt a lot about the different funding offered by the government. The government has offered funding to promote entrepreneurship and this has created excitement among students like me. I have been talking to my other friends who are thinking of starting their business and it is interesting to note that there are more and more people out there who has thought of a business plan and are planning to apply for these funds. What is disappointing is, however, these people are not willing to still start their business in the event they do not get funding. I feel that this totally kills the entrepreneur spirit of taking risks. Are they really entrepreneurs? Back in the days of our parents, they did not have such incentives, yet they risked it all, and many of them failed, terribly- went bankrupt and all. But, they never gave up, they went around ?begging? for money, selling their assets, all because they wanted to try again. And some of them were successful after they failed. Isn’t this being a true entrepreneur?
Well, after taking this course, I have a clear vision of what I want to do in future and I have chosen a job with a pay cut, but a job which gives me time for myself, so that I am able to work on a business in future.