By BRIAN WONG KEE MUN
Recently, I was invited to moderate an entrepreneurship session in the Networking Day 4.0 co-organised by Putra Business School and UNITEN (Universiti Tenaga Nasional).
Thinking of MBA (Master of Business Administration) students as my target audience, I decided to focus on “young” entrepreneurs to remain relevant. Most of us have an entrepreneurial dream, but commonly, it remains a dream. Why? It is simply because we humans are risk-averse by nature.
While we often believe that entrepreneurship brings us wealth, we tend to neglect the hardships one would need to go through. This was my objective – getting the speakers to share their journey on how the whole entrepreneurship idea started.
I had invited three speakers from different backgrounds. Everyone had their own story to tell.
Aw Tai Hau, a 26-year-old Kelantanese, who co-founded Pott Glasses was my first speaker. His company produces chic eyewear with a specific niche target market of Asian faces. The company’s business model is rather unique for a start-up in that corporate social responsibility (CSR) was planned within the business framework itself. Most times, CSR is just a “nice to have” activity when profits are gained.
The company’s “One for One” campaign (for every pair of glasses sold, they donate one to the underprivileged) reminds us that as a corporate citizen, we ought to bring back the human element into our business. This young entrepreneur understood that the marketplace do not consist of just the buyer and seller, but of society as a whole.
Amir Hasan, my second speaker, co-founded AisKosong, a student discount mobile application. Targeting the university student market, the app provides access to student-specific deals and discounts, with a community that grows about 15% on a weekly basis.
The company is currently going through a rebranding exercise, with the intention to be the region’s first digital student portal that provides access to both physical and online student discounts. The bold move of this new start-up is in its business model of competing in the “soon to be saturated” mobile application market.
Columnist turned solopreneur writer
My final speaker was not a business entrepreneur per se, but a writer who had decided at a young age to leave her lucrative-paying job at a Fortune 500 company. Alexandra Wong is a columnist at The Star and has just recently published her first book, entitled Made in Malaysia.
Why is she relevant? Her risky decision on switching profession is similar, if not the same, to a new start-up entrepreneurial decision. Freelance writing is a form of business. Her writing philosophy sets her business model, and her writing style determines her target market.
Eric Forbes, a senior editor of MPH Group Publishing, in his testimony to Wong says:
“Wong is a writer with a refreshing perspective of the planet. As a writer, she is inspiring, with a hint of humour and charm. Her stories are very human – she writes from the heart and soul.”
Bold marketing perhaps is best to describe this category of entrepreneurs. Regardless of their different backgrounds, I have observed five key similarities among them – in making a risky entrepreneurial decision at a young age:
- They know themselves.
- They are able to realise their passion into business ideas.
- They are observant, able to identify business opportunities and match them with their business ideas.
- They are bold in taking the first step to connect with the market (perhaps most people fail to progress further from here).
- They create their own marketspace.
- They are vigilant, persistent, and passionate in the business they are building on.
Above all, the ability in them to recognise their strengths and in addressing their weaknesses is simply being human.
This ability to act on conscience and be guided by a higher purpose will shape these young entrepreneurs to who they will be. They will redeem their dream and business opportunities through target marketing – a oneness, wholeness, excellence and beauty of the human spirit.
Dr Wong is a marketing specialist at Putra Business School. He is a change agent, specialising in marketing, strategy and management. To learn how to build and sustain peak performing sales teams in your organisation, email us at email@example.com for more information. For more Starting Young articles, click here.
Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com.