Are You Ready to Be An Entrepreneur?
Mark Hon may wear many hats, but he is an entrepreneur at heart. He speaks with HQ Asia about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. He shares advice for those who want to create a start-up and what the start-up scene looks like in Singapore.
Singapore’s entrepreneurial landscape is vibrant
With the government’s strong support for entrepreneurs, many aspiring innovators—local and foreign—are choosing Singapore as their country of choice. Initiatives such as Startup SG Equity and ACE Startups Grant incentivise equity co-investments and provide financial support for start-ups.
As a small country, Singapore is motivated to think about how to continually create jobs and to be forward-looking. If multinational companies (MNCs) move to countries with lower cost base, Singapore may face long-term structural unemployment. Determined to gird against vulnerability to such sudden global events, Singapore looked to diversify its risks through encouraging people to start their own businesses and create jobs.
Do you have the five traits of a successful entrepreneur?
- Are you hard working?
In this competitive start-up market, a strong work ethic is crucial to keep pace with the ever-increasing demands of a start-up. Entrepreneurs need to have the tenacity and passion to put in extra hours.
Are you resilient?
Challenges are aplenty. Entrepreneurs need to constantly have the ability to bounce back in the face of failure and setbacks.
Are you a quick thinker?
In order to impress clients and investors on the spot, entrepreneurs need to be able to think quickly on their feet. This puts them in a good stead to seize opportunities before they slip by.
Are you decisive?
Making the right judgment calls logically and effectively is paramount in such a competitive business landscape. Assessing risks for each decision factor objectively allows entrepreneurs to confidently make decisions.
Do you have strong people skills?
This final trait is crucial to be able to communicate ideas, motivate teams and pitch products. As no man can work alone, strong people skills are the foundations of building a strong organisation. To develop strong people skills:
Be likeable: connect on a personal level
Be credible: establish a reputation of accountability
Be authentic: be real and honest
Syndicated investment clubs are exclusive investment clubs for investors looking to invest in start-ups. However, they do not invest directly in a company but invest in a special purpose fund that is created specifically to make the joint investment in the start-up.
In every entrepreneurial landscape, there will always be sharks and angels. Angels are patient investors that are in the industry and have the connections and experience to help your company grow. On the other hand, sharks are more aggressive investors who may invest money without any other capacity to provide inputs valuable to the growth of the start-up. Thus, this calls upon entrepreneur’s ability to make good judgement calls and network with the right investors.
Overall, Singapore is one of the most attractive places globally for entrepreneurs to build their start-ups. The abundant support and holistic ecosystem is great for entrepreneurs with the right traits to grow their innovations.
Entrepreneurial Success Story: Carousell
When asked for an ACE success story, Hon drew attention to a start-up named Carousell. This mobile and online consumer-to-consumer marketplace for commercial exchange of goods has over 8 million listings of new and used items for sale.
The start-up’s rise has received financial support from the likes of ACE Startup Grant, Sequoia Capital and Rakuten. Some of their success can be attributed to a nurturing and supportive ecosystem. At the same time, the founding team’s entrepreneurial qualities are undeniable given the challenges and roadblocks faced through their journey to success. To date, the number one lifestyle app start-up has enjoyed remarkable regional expansion in countries such as Indonesia and Taiwan.
Words of Cautionary Wisdom
Entrepreneurship is not an easy place to be in so before jumping in, discover your field of excellence. Harness your strengths and grow from there. It is crucial to have the right personality and disposition to really grow and flourish in the entrepreneurial landscape. Do it for the right reasons. The reality can be daunting.
For those who are confident that their future lies in being an entrepreneur, Hon has two pieces of advice:
- Join a good start up first to learn from the best. Gain relevant experience and let this exposure be a cushion to fall back on in times of struggle. Avoid becoming an entrepreneur right out of university.
- Find a good mentor to guide you.
All in all, behind the glamour of every successful start-up is years of hard work and passion. But high risks can sometimes produce high rewards.