“If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.” – Ray Kroc (Mcdonalds Founder)
I am now into my second semester of EIR ( Entrepreneur in Residence) at INSEAD Singapore campus. It is for love not money, and uplifting to come to campus and see all the energy and people buzzing around hoping to crack the next BIG thing.
They ask me along because I am now on my 8th start up, headquartered in Singapore, with 17 years of experience working in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia & USA. I also lead the Entrepreneur Organisation in Shanghai for 2 years and am a massive proponent of alternative + crowd funding, especially for real estate.
I spend 45 mins with each student, back to back, all day long. They come from all walks of life, backgrounds and countries. It is a super interesting day to hear their plans, questions and bounce ideas around, and hopefully what I say helps them make better decisions moving forward… as off they now return back to the real world.
- What do you think it takes to make it as an entrepreneur?
- Do you think my business idea will work?
- How do you raise money?
- When is the best time to start a business?
- Should I make the leap and start my own business?
I try to tailor my response to each candidate after hearing their background and future plans, but if I could summarize my response to the above it goes something like this:
1. What do you think it takes to make it as an entrepreneur?
- Hard Work …..and lots more Hard Work
- Positive Optimism (and at times stupidly so)
- Appetite for Risk
- Great Ideas
- Creativity + Inspiration
- Determination + Ambition + Belief
- Mentors/Inner Circle contacts
- Inspiration from other entrepreneurs (I get my morning coffee + inspiration everyday from my local Uncle who is 80+ years old, takes 1 day off a week which is a Monday, works on his feet 5 am – 9pm, 6 days a week, pretty much every week of the year)
- Some reserve $ in the bank when the plan never goes to plan
- But most importantly, it is going to take hustle
2. Do you think my business idea will work?
- This is case specific and depends on the whole concept, planned revenue streams, team/founders, what is the climate around the rules and regulations relevant to your business, and all the points mentioned above
3. Who do you raise money from?
- We go through the different channels available and what makes the most sense for the size, scope and type of business they are building. It could include the following:
- Your savings (I have needed this at times when the plan….. didn’t go to plan)
- Friends and Family (this has always been some part of my fund raising)
- Close contacts from business school or groups/clubs they are associated with (this is how I raised $2 Mil USD for a real estate deal, you check that out hereIndecon)
- VC’s, private equity, related horizontal or vertically integrated businesses associated with your business model (I suggested the founders of a restaurant guest payment app to approach his first paying restaurant clients for funding = as they clearly get the value proposition)
- Someone you meet at the gym or other unplanned events (this is actually how I raised $8 Mil USD for the URBN boutique hotel, China’s 1st and only carbon neutral hotel) If that doesn’t prove it pays to be healthy, then nothing does.
- Note that all investors come with different agenda’s, control demands, volumes of money and strategic value, so none are the same, so put a SWOT analysis over any interested parties before jumping into bed with any of them
4. When is the best time to start a business?
- For these students, I generally think now is the time to move on their ideas, better than regretting they never took the plunge. You might fail, but learn something along the way and not lose sleep that you didn’t chase your dream and live a life of should’ve , could’ve, would’ve…but didn’t.
- These needs to be balanced against the business model they are starting. First to market is often said to be on the bleeding edge, not the leading edge. Sometimes it is best to be second or follow a leader with a pivot/tweak to a model that you can see clearly working already.
- If you have a few reserve $ stashed away, and you have tested the appetite for your product, there is not time like the present to get started
- Sometimes it is smart to go back to the corporate world in the industry/area you believe is ripe for your model, learn the in’s and out’s and then break off when you have lined up the right partners, financing and feel it is time to do it or you can do it much better. These days you might even get funding from the accelerator program your company may run or even from your old boss, for coming up with a new product or better way of doing something.
5. Should I make the leap and start my own business?
- Like any investment, you should calculate the worse case scenario, that being lost time and money, and if this is acceptable, then I think you might be ready
- Have you got enough answers to all the questions in your head about the model, your personal journey and desires, if things go to plan, if things don’t go to plan
- You have feel comfortable with your beliefs and understanding on life, time and why you are here on planet earth and what you should be doing everyday, and what legacy you want to leave behind
- You need to scratch the itch to go out on your own and test yourself
- You can handle extreme levels of pain, denial, refusal, negativity and rejection, but can recover (on a daily basis) and get back up and out there again
There is actually a 6th top question I also get asked, but to find that out, you will have to sign up @ InvestaCrowd to find out more. Let me know if you think we missed anything and please share if you think it is useful and helpful to your network. Lastly, good luck for those willing and able to make the plunge and for those that already have, kick on.
I will leave you now with some inspirational quotes from some world famous entrepreneurs:
“Invention is by its very nature disruptive. If you want to be understood at all times, then don’t do anything new.” – Jeff Bezos
“The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell” – Andrew Carnegie
“When you expect things to happen, strangely enough, they do happen” – JP Morgan
“Take something common and make it uncommon” – Rockefeller