“What do you need to start a business?”
This important question came about when many employees got laid off and found difficulties being gainfully employed again with a reasonable salary to “live” in pricey Singapore. Others may want to live their dreams of becoming a boss and doing so at a younger age.
Whatever the reasons, the idea of entrepreneurship is becoming a common topic compared to 5 years ago.
When I asked the question, “What do you need to start a business?” , the answers were mainly the following.
Financial resources – Having or finding adequate start-up funds! So, that means either you must somehow have a deep pocket or have the knowledge to conduct crowd-funding or the networks to obtain a loan.
Government support – The Singapore government, is very encouraging of entrepreneurship and has since initiated many schemes to support budding entrepreneurs. “These are free money to help us, and we have to harness them.” some people said. Entrepreneurs spend much time researching these schemes and applying for them.
Digital skillset – Everything is digital TODAY! The digital knowledge and capabilities are the baseline for new business. It is so critical that without which, even established companies cannot sustain.
There are a couple more on the list, but I will stop at these.
You may be wondering what is my take on this?
My opinion differed greatly and I am saying these from the various experiences gleaned from my entrepreneurial journey.
Please do not get me wrong, the above resources are vital, and I used to think the same as most people I asked the question to.
I have discovered three essential tools from my experiences over the last couple of years.
1. Where is Your Heart?
I have been asked this question again and again.
I was retrenched from a senior position and set up a small consultancy business to earn an ad hoc income and “fill up” the gap in an otherwise robust resume.
Minute business opportunities were streaming in, and my mentor repeatedly pointed to me that if my heart was really into helping these business strive, these business would have the potential to grow.
Indeed, successful business owners are fully committed. Just like you have poured in the heart and soul into your corporate job without a promotion guarantee, Entrepreneurs are the same. However, they have taken it one step further. They sacrifice the long hours with no annual leaves, recognitions, nor even safety net.
Commitment will not guarantee success; however, it gives you the energy and prepares you mentally and emotionally for the journey ahead.
2. The Willingness to Learn New Things
“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” – Brian Herbert.
Your education and experiences have brought you to this point. However, they may not be adequate to get you to a new height in entrepreneurship.
When you are committed to your business, you are suddenly opened to a totally different world, and every aspect presents a new learning opportunity. The willingness to learn must happen first. Then, the government financial aids schemes, crowd-funding management and digital assets building, which I mentioned earlier, can become the means of business success and sustainability.
Some might be quick to point out that there are born entrepreneurs. So, is learning still critical?
I would argue that while some soft skills like leadership skills can be innate, further learning can enhance them.
The business environment is a dynamic one with many innovations evolving rapidly. For example, how do you leverage cryptocurrency into your business? Is it even relevant for your business?
As a business owner, you can rely on financial institutions for advice. However, it is your fundamental knowledge of the subject that will help you decide confidently.
At the same time, you must be open-minded to the source of teaching. It can be a very humbling experience to learn from someone many years your junior. And, yes, institutions are not the only place of learning. Invite someone to coffee, and you can learn something you have never known.
3. The Spirit of Bamboo
I have a coach always telling his students to learn to be bamboos when doing business.
Bamboo is stronger than steel; with a tensile strength of 28,000 per square inch, versus 23,000 for steel. It is believed to be the first plant to return to Japan after the atomic bomb, and some species can survive minus thirty-degree Celsius. When bamboos are cut down to the ground, they will not die; eventually, they will regrow.
Business owners will be faced with multiple challenges and especially for new start-ups. Customers can drop you with no valid reasons; they may not pay you upon job completion; clients can take your idea to your competitors and get them to do it at a cheaper rate. Learn the inner strength of bamboo to regrow and use the experiences to expand and become even stronger. You can learn the resilience quality and preserve amidst challenges.
A bamboo allows itself to be bent but always returns to its original shape when released.
When you start a business, you are doing six jobs or more without explicit job scopes. By necessity, entrepreneurs have multiple responsibilities until the company allows for additional resources.
By the same token, tasks may not be predictable. A successful one-time trial may not necessarily mean continuous success. The agility and flexibility to adapt and modify is an everyday job.
The essence of bamboo is strength and flexibility. It can inspire and motivate you.