Most of us have a common dream – financial freedom. Whether we call it the American Dream or something else, we want to live a life without having to worry about our basic needs, even if we don’t work every day. Of course, it would be an added bonus if we could live a comfortable life. From time to time, we may even want to indulge at high-end restaurants and pamper ourselves with luxury goods and high-end holidays.
Let’s face it – every time we read about successful entrepreneurs in the news, we get inspired to start a venture to build our own enterprise that we can use to contribute back to the society and add value to the economy.
Having established a fairly successful software company back in 2013, and having the privilege to be featured in the Forbe’s 30 Under 30 Asia 2016, I would like to share my personal experiences with you on how you can embark on your entrepreneurial ventures as well. In this article, I will discuss 3 key points of consideration – highlighting both the pros and cons of starting your own business, and provide you with a holistic view of how is the lifestyle of an entrepreneur.
1. Time Flexibility
Pros: You will often have a higher-degree of time flexibility. You don’t necessarily have to wait until the weekends to meet with your friends or attend networking events or conferences. In general, you will also have more control of your work-life balance – basically, as long as you carefully plan out your schedule, prioritise your tasks, and identify the deadlines, you can work around the clock with a flexible work life as long as you deliver your tasks on time.
Cons: As entrepreneurship is often not a 9am to 5pm job, if you can’t manage your time efficiently, you most likely will waste it. Managing the whole business is much different than being delegated specific tasks. It is like playing a video game with a timer – how many birds can you shoot within a dedicated timeline depends on your ability and past experiences.
2. Team Building
Pros: Unlike corporates, you will be able to choose the people of whom you want to work. For example, you have the autonomy build a dynamic team with members that possess different strengths, but at the same time share the same vision as yours and the organization. A team like this will definitely synergize and work well together, and members can learn a lot from each other as well.
Cons: It is also important to note that in most early-stage startup ventures, you will not have much money to lead a comfortable lifestyle, unless you seek for significant funding from the start. Therefore, it is likely that you will face a certain amount of skills mismatch when hiring for your team due to the limited financial capability. Furthermore, there is a chance that those people will eventually want to move on to bigger corporates to strengthen their profiles after gaining some experience from your startup. So, as a business owner in a startup, it is important that you can manage such chaos and learn to play with the cards dealt to you.
Pros: You are not limited to only doing specific tasks. No one will be delegating you the duties, so you will have to seek for opportunities around. There will also be times when it is worth exploring external partnerships and seek for win-win situations to complement your workforce and work towards a common goal together.
Cons: One problem that arise from owning a small business (startup) is you will be a small fish in the ocean filled with whales and sharks. In other words, most of the big companies will only want to work with other large organizations. As such, most of the time your clients will be relatively smaller companies that may not have such financial strength, and can’t pay you that much for your services. Even if you do manage to land a big company as your client, the overall responsibilities from that project may occasionally exceed the capabilities of your current workforce, in which case you will have to seek for new resources and expand your team.
I started my own business when I just finished my college. I came to a realization that sometimes you will be stuck in the growth stage of your company, unless you own some sort of unique Intellectual Property (IP). If you are a college student and have plans to start your own, I would recommend 3 things:
- Develop a clear vision and set a goal that your company wants to achieve in the future. Planning an exit strategy is also essential to minimize your loss, or even gain profit if your business runs well.
- Do not start a business if you do not have a proper plan because you will be stuck in a phase where you wouldn’t know how to proceed, and eventually lead to burn out. It will be better for you to first learn while working in a corporate company while they are paying you. However, if you start your business, you need to pay for your time and money.
- The financial situation will be very struggling at first. It is not a rosy road, but one filled with bumps and traps. You need to understand your limits and how much you are willing to struggle. It is also important to know when it is time to exit and explore new ventures, instead of constantly working on a venture heading towards a dead end.
However, building your own startup/company is ultimately filled with many risks – both known and unknown. You must invest time to develop and acquire the necessary tools, experience, and network of people who can advise you and serve as your assets throughout your venture. Otherwise, if what I have explained to you so far sounds like an overwhelming experience, I would recommend that you seek for a stable corporate job to build your credentials and save up some capital first.