Dear entrepreneurs, help yourself succeed

I just came back from another startup event (ideas.inc by NTU) at Singapore. Over the course of my entrepreneurship journey this past 2 years, I’ve learned so much. I’ve grew so much as an entrepreneur. My once blinded and naive optimism is now much more realistic. But I’m not one bit less optimistic and delusional.

Without any intention of seeming snobbish, a lot of this startup events seem, unnecessary. Motivational events are great to create awareness for entrepreneurship but they are pretty useless to actually help wannabe entrepreneurs find their holy grail in getting started. The truth of the matter is, far too many ppl in Singapore and Malaysia are spending too much time talking about ideas but not executing them.

These events are great places for networking, I must say. But don’t come to these events with the hope that something will magically change.

For many wannabe technopreneurs, looking for investors and programmers seem to be their only way of getting started. I’ve been approached by countless such individuals and I’m getting tired of it. No, I don’t want to belittle your ideas or ambition. Neither am I being arrogant about having a skill that not many people have. I worked hard to have my technical skills. It’s not that I’m magically gifted with it. And I believe that if I can do it, so can most people (if they choose so). Of course, if you have absolutely no inclination or interest in coding, I advise against it (but you should at least try the right way for a month or two before saying you have no interest). But beware that it takes time to mold a new skill (definitely > 6 months).

But what I’m trying to get at is, wannabe technopreneurs, there are other ways than finding a coder or an investor to get started. Try customer development model. Read Running Lean by Ash Maurya or The Lean Startup by Eric Ries or Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank. There are some examples in there of how some startups started without much technical knowledge.

And truth be told, I know many engineers/coders (me included) who are tired of building products that gain no traction. So if you are a business/product guy with no coding skill, we are actually open to hear your ideas. But more importantly, we want to see that you have at least done some work to verify that the problem exists in large scale. And we want proof. Even better if you can get to a solution-market fit stage. There is really no need for hardcore technical knowledge to get to that level for many startups! (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, please read the books I suggested above!)

Finally, I just want to say, everything is possible. But you’ve gotta make it possible. What it means practically is, shift your perspective, be creative, be bold, be an action taker, be proactive, take initiative, work relentlessly, search for resources, use the resources, ask for help, talk to people, read books, google stuff, go to forums, and stop fearing that someone will steal your idea. Chances are, you’re not the smartest person in the world. Don’t think only you have ideas. Entrepreneurs are not the smartest, they are just the boldest. And don’t get stuck at thinking there is only one way to get started. (You can have potential customers before you have an actual product).

If anyone has any opinion or resource on this, feel free to comment.

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