I have had the opportunity to attend the BizSmart Academy Young Entrepreneurs’ Conference 2014 (YEC) organised by Alliance Bank in Penang yesterday. This conference was also the launch to the 2014 Alliance Bank BizSmart Entrepreneurship challenge which my company, Leaderonomics is deeply involved in with Alliance Bank.
The challenge gives prize money of up to RM600,000 to the winners of the best ‘new’ SME organisations below three years old. Last year was an amazing challenge with Christy Ng emerging as the winner. And its exciting to see Leaderonomics again in the thick of this competition and conference.
Boy, was this conference truly an eye-opener for me! Being a “freshie” in the workplace, I’ve indeed learned some important lessons from the event. Hence, here are the five main things which I returned home with:
1. People, not money
Money is not the most important resource you need when starting a business; people are. Though many young entrepreneurs’ main concern is budget/funding/profit, the advice which was given by the panel of speakers was to leverage on one’s network instead.
In line with that, resourcefulness (i.e. knowing who/where to look to get what you need) is an important trait to have to be an entrepreneur (or anyone for that matter).
2. Got an idea? Act on it!
Interestingly, for the past few nights, I’ve not been able to sleep because my mind was overexcited about a fantastic idea that I had and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it!
“Coincidently” (I believe there’s a reason for everything) at the conference, there was this gigantic colorful wall of “Take a Chance” as depicted in the picture and this is the quote that I got:
“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, General Electric Co-founder
A simple but strong reminder to myself as I always have some crazy ideas (which my ego thinks are brilliant of course) but I seldom turn them into reality. Not this time!
3. Know your stuff!
As the presenters shared with the audience about the business that they have started, I noticed that although their business is doing extremely well, most of them are not experts in doing business. However, they are experts in whatever it is that the business is about. They did their research. You need to know your market and product so well that it’s like walking in the dark without bumping into anything in the house.
As such, I realised that starting a business without research is like building a house on sand. You can build it, sure, but it’ll come crumbling down once the tide comes in.
4. Not all about the cold hard cash
Prior to this, I stereotype and generalise businesspeople to be greedy money-obsessed humans. So it is reassuring to hear this particular piece of advice (paraphrased) given by the panels to the young entrepreneurs out there:
The focus on starting or building a business should always be to address a social issue or world problem.
Hence, I’m glad to know that not everyone is focused solely on the money-making aspect of it.
5. Plan A, Plan B
On one side, you hear that you should always dream big and fly! On the other side, you hear that you should be realistic and err on the safe side.
There is a thin line between dreaming unrealistic BIG dreams and underestimating what can really be achieved. Thus, the insight which I got is to have a Plan A and Plan B.
- Plan A: Draft out the ideal scenario/event/business (i.e. plan BIG). Ask yourself, what would it look like if money was not an issue?
- Plan B: Draft out a more realistic one (i.e. a more budgeted one). Ask yourself, what are the alternatives which will help me reach the same goal?
Adeline Tay is a learning specialist with Leaderonomics. She loves to learn and is excited to be learning everyday at Leaderonomics. Drop us a line or two in the comment box provided, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more functional articles, click HERE.