Thursday, December 27, 2007

Some advices on Entrepreneurship

Year 2007 is coming to an end, and many people are starting to make new year resolutions for the coming year. Perhaps one of the resolutions in some people’s list is to startup a company. As an entrepreneur myself, I think perhaps I can give some advices to those who are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur. Although I don’t see myself as a veteren or some successful entrepreneur, I believe I had more exposure than maybe a normal nine-to-five office worker. For the past few years, I had seen entrepreneurs come and go, some struggled and some are still struggling. I had seen people leaving the entrepreneurial scene with a bad taste in their mouth. Many people entered the scene with lots of enthusiasm and dreams, thanks to the constant glamourization of successful entrepreneurs and over-emphasis of success stories in the media, but leave the scene bitterly with a dose of reality.

So perhaps I would just list out a few things which I think can be useful to an entrepreneur here, as an end-of-year present to all those avid readers who have been reading my plain little text-only blog. It is heart-warming to know that people are willing to spend their precious time reading a stranger’s rant.

1. Make yourself comfortable, even if you are coming out of your comfort zone.

Don’t believe in the myth that entrepreneurs are all struggling to make ends meet. Don’t believe that entrepreneurs should live miserably before they see any glimpses of hope. Entrepreneurship is long journey. If you are making yourself miserable and uncomfortable, how long do you think you can last ?

But how to make yourself comfortable? Reduce uncertainties to the minimum. You need to make calculated risks before diving into the uncharted waters. Take into account your normal monthly expenses, plus your expected monthly expenses of your company, and make an estimate of how long you can survive without income. If you cannot survive at least one year, perhaps you should save up more or get external financial investments.

Apart from financial aspects, there are also the mental aspects. Try to do something you truly enjoy. It will enable you to persevere through hard times. And don’t make yourself miserable by working 24 hours, unless you are a workaholic.

2. Maintain a good health

A healthy body is the foundation of every entrepreneur. If you are not able to take care of your own health, how can you take care of a company? So, do exercise consistently, eat healthily, and you will find yourself having more energy to take care of other stuffs.

3. You don’t have to own 100% of your company

Sometimes, you may need to sacrifice some of your shares to bring in capital or expertise. But of couse, not to the extent that you become a minor shareholder that can’t make any decisions.

4. Separate your personal and company accounts

Even if you are a sole proprietor, it is advisable to separate your own personal accounts and your company accounts. Things will get real messy if you are paying your baby’s diapers and company’s inventory all from the same account. At the end of the day, you don’t even know whether you are truly earning lesser or simply because your personal expenses went up.

5. Mix with the right people

The people around you can have positive or negative effects on you and your company. There will always be people who are eager to offer their advices. And there will always be people who can’t wait to bring you down. Make your own judgement who you think is credible, and who is just NATO (No Action Talk Only).

Beware of those who are indecisive, over-optimistic, over-pessimistic, NATO, constant-whiners and forever-disgruntled. Take whatever they said with a pinch of salt.

6. Don’t enter entrepreneurship because you wanna avoid something

Be it stress, work, nasty bosses or responsibilities. Chances are you will get more of those in entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurial scene is not a place for people who wanna seek refuge. If you cannot leave your previous stage as a victor, don’t expect to come into entrepreneurship and emerge as a winner. You’d probably run away from the same problem again.

Ok, that’s all my crap advices, and remember to take it with a pinch of salt. Wish all have a fulfilling 2008!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My dreams

I still remembered the very first job interview I had after I graduated from university. It was an interview for an IT post of a MNC, and the interviewer was an american. After some routine technical questions, he asked me to talk about my dreams. I did not know any “model answers” for such questions, and being a naïve fresh graduate, I just answered it from the bottom of my heart.

Well, people who only know me via my online identity would probably guess that my dream is to set-up my own company and be a successful entrepreneur. Or something along the lines of becoming a great software developer and creating some killer software products. But those weren’t the answers that came to my mind at that point of time.

Admittedly, I am quite a dreamer. I had a lot of dreams. To setup and grow my own company is one of them, to achieve breakthrough in my personal research in a specialized area is another. But when the question was posed to me, only one prominent dream came to my mind.

I told the interviewer that my dream is to build a farm cum animal shelter. Thousands of animals had been abandoned every year in this tiny island alone, and most of them had to be put to sleep. I wanted to create a haven for these helpless animals, whose only wish is to survive in this world that is dominated by human supremacy. I knew it would take a lot of money to fulfill such a dream, but I will still work towards it no matter how long it takes.

I did not get the job eventually. I did not even get through to the second round. I did not know whether it was due to my over-idealistic answer. But at least I spoke from my heart, and I would still give the same answer today. The only thing different is I had quite a couple of additions to my dream list, and most of them are not easily attainable.

Many friends that I know of, had in some way or another given up on most of their dreams. It seems that the older they grew, the more dreams they discarded. Somehow, as you grow older, pragmatism will inevitably override idealism.

I am still working towards fulfilling my dreams. And in the process, adding new ones. If I am able to live till 85 years old, I would still have more than 50 years to achieve my dreams. That’s a hell lot of time, so why give up?

P/S: I have added a “Support these Causes” section on the right panel of this blog. Those are free ads space for charitable causes. Feel free to click the links. I will be adding more in the future.