by Ho Jia Qing
The first thing that came into my mind when I saw the course “Technological Entrepreneurship” was: how does one learn entrepreneurship? Like most other students, I took the class anyway because I had to clear my modules.
Surprisingly, 13 weeks of school flew me by and I must admit, entrepreneurship has to be taught. If I had not taken this class, I would not have known about the harsh reality of setting up a business. Things like sourcing for clients, presenting a business plan to intimidating investors and working with strangers; these are not theories that are found in textbooks, they are lessons learnt by real businessmen. These are people who went against all odds to realize their dreams; people who fell along the way but picked themselves up; people who succeeded in the end but only because they persevered.
I am not going to write about how important it is to know how to write a business plan or how to give a wonderful sales pitch. Instead, I want to share about how Prof. and her lessons have helped me to discover what I really want to do in my life.
Last summer, I did my university internship at a particular company. They are huge and reputable and I went in with many high expectations. From the job description, it seemed like I was going to learn a lot more from this internship than the not-so-useful fundamental classes in school. Sad to say, I was proven wrong. My colleagues and my direct supervisor treated me like cheap labor, like having me clean their office cubicles and photocopying their documents.
Eventually, I received my first piece of real work which was to analyze the company’s and its competitors’ market share. Along the way, I found out that the way my colleagues did it was tedious and efficient. When I suggested making a few changes, my boss rebutted me and said, “There’s no need to change anything, we have been using this method for years!? I was appalled at the kind of answer that she gave. Infuriated, I went ahead with my own way and showed her the results. While she was impressed, her ego was even more bruised. Since then, she stopped giving me work and I went back to being her “office boy”.
In a nutshell, I discovered that I did not like working for other people. In a country like Singapore, most companies still employ conservative management styles and they are unreceptive of changes. I asked myself: Why climb the corporate ladders only to draw a measly pay and be restrained by the boss for most of my career when I can be pursuing my passions and doing things my own way?
The guest speaker sessions have been extremely inspiring. To quote Hong Zhuang: “There’s no better time to embrace entrepreneurship than now, after all we can still fall back on our 8-to-5 office jobs if we fail”. That was the turning point for me.
Like what Richard St. John says, “Do it for love, not for money. The interesting thing is, if you do it for love, the money comes anyway.”
So? why not entrepreneurship?