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7 Essential Entrepreneurial Traits and Skills in Setting up Businesses

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream and Discover!” - H. Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You

Over 130 participants attended the Second Mutiara Community Forum conducted in Mandarin, which was held on 15 November 2012 at the Menara Mutiara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The forum was sponsored by the Mutiara Johan Group and jointly organized by KC Chia & Noor, Chartered Accountants, the GGI member firm, National Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises of One Malaysia and Asia Pacific Tsinghua CEO Chamber of Commerce and Industry Berhad.

The topic of the forum was “7 Essential Entrepreneurial Traits and Skills in Setting up Businesses - small companies can also achieve big successes”. The speaker was Mr. Lin Gu Ye, a renowned Taiwanese Consultant who graduated from the Hosei University, Tokyo Japan. He is an approved Management Training Programme (MTP) Trainer under the Japan Industrial Training Association (JITA) and now serves as a senior advisor to several MNCs in Asia.

 

Whilst discussing the pertinent entrepreneurial traits and skills relating to successful businesses, he shared and exchanged ideas with the floor participants on how to use these traits in setting up new businesses in the local business environment. There were also discussions on recently emerging issues and also on overcoming the challenges faced in setting up new businesses in the Asian perspective.

His speech is summarized as follows:

 

With the backdrop of the current global economic downturn and continuing deterioration of the European sovereign debt crisis and resultant market retraction, there has been a significant dip in export demand coupled with an escalating rate of unemployment. As a result many have started to risk venturing into businesses to opt for new business opportunities and to pursue lifetime goals with a view of achieving prosperity in the future.

A. Pitfalls of Start-up Businesses

Most start-up businesses are small enterprises with basic managerial, financial and marketing skills. Generally, they are less cost-effective and lack modern management techniques and necessary resources. The pitfalls of these enterprises could generally be categorized as follows:

1. Inadequate financial planning

Start-up businesses, if not properly monitored will end up like black holes that are always perceived to be financially inadequate. In most cases, despite good business ideas or products, these startups under perform and experience poor cash flow generation, principally due to a failure in understanding the business environment and customer needs.

2. Myopia on “the cheaper, the better” policy

In order to minimize costs, these entrepreneurs tend to emphasize on short-term benefits from ignoring expert advice for long-term business growth and instead source for low cost, but in effect short term solutions, which will have knock on effects on in-house product or service quality.

3. Undertaking entire gamut of operations

In their initial efforts to building up the business, these entrepreneurs tend to succumb to taking on more than they can handle. They would undertake all business and administrative activities such as establishing customer relationships, closing sales, issuing accounts receivable account reminders; replying emails, issuing invoices, dealing with office administration matters and doing business planning at night. This exhaustive micro management prevents any meaningful evaluation on the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of each of the processes undertaken.

4. Neglecting corporate image

As most of these start-up businesses have limited resources, they do not possess the brand distinction and will lack corporate identity, culture and image. In building a distinct and strong corporate image, customer trust and confidence are further enhanced and in time these would equate to the generation of new businesses.

5. Insufficient employee training and development

These enterprises usually lack employee training programs, as they are usually more concerned with other more seemingly ‘pressing’ matters first, without realizing that effective employee training and development will have a major impact on the productivity of a company and their overall efficiency in the long run.

6. Poor business planning and management

As these enterprises are equipped with basic or rudimentary business management tools, there is inadequate proper business planning. As a result, these enterprises under-perform and often find that their business reality is far from the ideal.

B. Seven (7) Essential Entrepreneurial Traits and Skills

Mr. Lim summarized that for the start-up businesses to be successful in achieving favorable results, the entrepreneurs must possess some, if not all, of the following 7 essential entrepreneurial traits and skills:

1. A positive business attitude

A positive business attitude is necessary with strong emphasis on professionalism, dedication, trust, perseverance, time prioritisation management, acute and thorough analysis, timely and expeditious work execution and perseverance whilst facing obstacles.

2. Management is a lifelong learning process

Management is a lifelong learning process, with operational management, marketing and customer services having equally important roles, and hence should be treated as lifelong pursuits for further improvement and progress.

3. Strong business network

Entrepreneurs must learn how to establish strong communication traits at the time of start-up, good personal contacts and relationships so that useful help will always be at hand when required.

4. Strong focus on targets and objectives

For commencement, it is necessary to focus on objectives and targets and have in place an organised and systematic managerial function. Ideally such functions should be as fully computerized as possible.

5. Well-versed with the management process

Entrepreneurs must be well-versed with the entire management process including planning, directing, execution, control, coordination, and must act quickly in order to seize prime opportunities and optimise profits. Therefore, business planning, in particular, is the key to drafting and preparing the road map to ensure business success.

6. Continuous talent and human resource development

Having employee training is vital to a company's success. Continuous and rigorous management training is a necessary investment, in order to give employees different skill sets and perspectives. Furthermore through succession planning these groomed talents can be allowed to work hand-in-hand so that in the entrepreneur's absence, there is continuity in good management.

7. Manage wholeheartedly with passion and love

Have a good understanding of the constraints of limited resources whilst embarking on new business ventures is necessary. Managing the businesses wholeheartedly with passion and love, and always strive for further improvement despite the odds and obstacles are absolutely essential to achieving success.

Mr. Lin concluded that all businesses start small and do not expect them to grow big instantly. Every big company starts with a humble beginning and that includes companies such as Apple, Whole Foods Market, Mattel, Amazon.com and Starbucks Coffee - all of them started small from their garages to gradually become the 500 most lucrative companies on Earth.

As such, starting and managing a business requires passion, patience, dedication and hard work, but for those who have been driven to succeed, the rewards can be bountiful and unlimited. Starting a business is an exciting proposition, but it’s also an incredibly challenging undertaking. With easy access to a wealth of information on the internet, free flow of market intelligence, and plentiful new technology and business opportunities available to entrepreneurs, there has never been a better or easier time to start a business now.

 

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