Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some interesting Links…

Found some interesting articles about entrepreneurship:

The Million Dollar Question for Singapore: What’s holding back our entrepreneurs?

Interview with Guy Kawasaki

Quoting from the above interview (in case some are too busy to click the link) :

I: What do you see as the biggest difference between the United States and Singapore in terms of inculcating entrepreneurship? What do you think the local environment lacks?

Kawasaki: Singapore has based its educational system on the expectation that its graduates will work for the government or multinational corporations (MNCs), neither of which prepares one for entrepreneurship. In America, if you work for a large company for a long time, people ask why. In Singapore, if people leave a large company, people ask why. This is a huge difference.

I: Does the small population base in Singapore serve as a barrier to success in entrepreneurship?

Kawasaki: From day one, Singaporeans have to think "international" because a population of three to four million people does not provide a large enough market. Israel proved that this can work. It has clearly created great technology that has been exported around the world. Israel has five million people, six million entrepreneurs, and fifteen million opinions. Singapore has five million people, six entrepreneurs, and one opinion.

If Israel can do it, why can't Singapore? It will take changes in social conventions. If Singaporeans are raised to think that the best people work in government, education and large companies, change will be slow. Singapore needs a few technology entrepreneur heroes - for instance Creative Technology's Sim Wong Hoo.

I: Does making money figure very highly in motivating someone to become an entrepreneur?

Kawasaki: Contrary to popular belief, it's not the most important motivation. Money is one of the natural outcomes for successful companies, but it's very seldom the original and central goal.

If you are not too busy, do go and read the full articles.
Wish all a Happy New Year and hope we live a more fulfilling life in 2007!


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Looking Back 5: Rise from the ashes (Year 2006 – The Transition Year )

A series of setbacks hit me during the start of the year. Firstly, my uncle (my mother’s elder brother) who was living with us passed away during mid January. He was quite close to me and basically treated me like a son. Weeks before his death, he had been in and out of the hospital and needed to rely on the portable oxygen concentrater. It was really painful to see him suffering and it had been a physically and emotionally stressful period to me.

At about the same time, my partner K decided to withdraw from our partnership and went back to his previous company. And he wanted to take back his initial capital plus some more amount for the work he had done. So eventually, I paid him an amount out of my own pocket for his withdrawal, despite the fact that the business was not doing well and our company account was already depleted.

So the partnership became a sole-proprietorship at early February. I looked at the loads of problems stacked in front of me:

  • Company bank account was depleted to only S$500++.
  • The lack of sales for the past few months.
  • In addition to product R&D, I will have to take care of admin, sales and marketing stuffs in future, which I had no prior experience on.
  • Problems from existing customers: Complaining and demanding for new features but unwilling to pay for it; Bad debts from some clients.
  • No income for the past 11 months. Personal bank account was decreasing drastically.

I had no confident to carry on. I wasn't prepared to run a company on my own. Quite a number of my friends advised me to terminate the business and find a new job. But I was very reluctant to just end it this way, as I had put in so much effort in the business. Most importantly, I still believed in my passion and dreams.

So I tried to write out a business plan, and along with my product, I approached some of my friends and ex-colleagues for investment. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I finally convinced 2 of my friends to invest in my company as sleeping partners. Though the total amount gathered wasn’t a lot, it was enough to sustain my company’s operation for quite a while. I terminated the original sole-proprietor business and incorporated a new pte ltd company with my new shareholders, with myself as the sole director.

To prevent my personal account from further depletion, I decided to draw a monthly allowance to partially cover my own expenses. I learnt to take over the admin stuffs and tried to service my existing customers’ demands by enhancing my product’s features.

Then during mid March, I was informed by the building management of my office that they will not renew the lease of all the offices in the building. I needed to move out of my office by end of May. Since my company was an OMO (One-Man-Operation), I felt that there was actually no need to find a new office. What initially seemed to be a bad news (losing my office) may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Without an office, I would be able to cut down quite a bit of my monthly operational cost. The compensation I received more than covered for the cost of registering a virtual office, reprinting of letterheads and engaging transportation for moving my office furnitures (to my friend’s house).

But the sales remained poor and there was a period of time when I begin to question my decision to carry on the business. I started to think whether I should get a full-time job and do my business part-time, or simply terminate it. Gradually, I started to lose confidence and hide myself in my bedroom like an ostrich. I would just switch my handphone to silent mode, refusing to take any phone calls or emails. I was feeling extremely tired….physically, mentally, emotionally. There’s a voice inside me screaming, “I need a rest, I need a rest, I need a rest….”

Then came July, I finally felt that I needed to brace up. I began to read up on marketing stuffs and decided to re-position my product. I carried on enhancing my product according to the new positioning, and created a few different editions out of it. I reviewed the original price list and made some modifications. I thought of more effective ways to do sales presentations. As a result, I had more enquiries and managed to close some sales. I started to regain some confidence and believed that I can do sales and marketing, better than K previously did.

As the end of the year was approaching, my company had managed to accumulate some profit and this somehow had given me the confidence to carry on. Looking back, I had learnt to overcome my fears and adapt myself to changes. And most importantly, I had learnt to enjoy the path I had chosen.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006


Several years ago, the term SOHO was sort of a buzz word. In case anyone doesn’t know, SOHO stands for Small Office Home Office. For more information of SOHO, one can refer to here .

Quoting from the above link:

“The 36 hour or 48 hour cycles of much of
software development has led many practitioners in this domain to do their work in home offices given the difficulty of the traditional business world to adapt its 'normal' hours to some of the more extreme needs of software engineering.

Technology has also created a demand for larger businesses to employ individuals who work from home. (See also
Homesourcing) Sometimes these people remain as an independent businessperson, and sometimes they actually become employees of a larger company.”

I am in the software line. But personally, I don’t like to work from home, because of the following reasons:

  1. In Singapore, there are certain months that the temperature is extremely hot especially during daytime. To turn-on my air-con for these days would drive my PUB bills up drastically.
  2. There are simply too much distractions for me to work at home. The television, fridge, etc are the main culprits.
  3. My neighbour’s childrens keep running around the corridor, causing further noise polution.
  4. To me, staying at home over a long period of time isn’t good for my morale. Somehow I will feel isolated from the society or even get into depression.

But too, I don’t like the idea of having to report to the office everyday just for the sake of showing people (superiors) that I am alive (and working). I believe that people are productive at different times, and productivity is subjected to external parameters such as the weather, health, mood, environment, etc. I guessed most of us have the experience whereby we are just not in the mood to work but yet we have to stay in the office acting busy and not doing much productive work. So to me, the end result is more important than ‘showing face’ in the office. If you feel that you are not in the mood to work today, then by all means go and have a good rest or do anything that you like. As long as you can deliver the results on time, I don’t really care about the rest. So that is my little philosophy and I planned to inculcate it into my own company culture.

And thus, I invented a new term called “DOMO”, which stands for Dynamic Office Mobile Office. So basically, I would encourage my (future) employees to work from anywhere, at anytime. For me, as long as I have my laptop with me, I can work at any convenient (and comfortable) places. I can even do my work while waiting for my friends at MRT station or cafe. So effectively, the concept of work doesn’t exist because it is fully integrated into your lifestyle. Wanna watch a movie in the afternoon? No problem, as long as you have or are confident to deliver your result on time. Feeling more productive at night? Then maximize your productivity by doing your work at night. In a nutshell, you work at your own pace and be in full control of your life. Of course, the prerequisite is that you must love and have passion on what you are doing, and have enough self-discipline.

So do I need a physical office? If possible, I would still like to have a physical office. But it would not be a traditional one. It would more like an internet café. A place where staffs can brainstorm ideas as well as chill out. A place where you don’t have to force yourself to go every morning, to wayang. A place where you can have a sense of belonging. A place where like-minded and passionate people get together with dreams to rock the world!

So can I realize this little dream of my own? I believe, I can.