Introduction – What it means to be an entrepreneur
By definition, an entrepreneur is often taken as a synonym for businessperson. Indeed, entrepreneurs form the backbone of any thriving economy, and successful entrepreneurs play a crucial role in driving innovation and creating new opportunities for growth.
One common pitfall, however, is when entrepreneurs get so caught up with the work of generating value that they might lose sight of the function they ultimately serve in any thriving economy. This is particularly evident when new entrepreneurs encounter their first major setback and get discouraged.
Seasoned entrepreneurs commonly say that they eat failure for breakfast – this might seem hyperbolic, but a healthy dose of failure does indeed form a crucial part of an entrepreneur’s diet. In the process of challenging the status quo by introducing new ideas. With the potential to disrupt the norm, it is part and parcel of a businessperson’s life to get challenged in return, often finding themselves within ambiguous waters.
The macro-economic environment today has changed significantly and with an obvious economic slowdown, decline in the stock market and constant reports of layoffs – especially in the tech sector, there is an obvious rising concern among entrepreneurs regarding the looming recession. While starting a new business may sound exciting, unforeseen challenges such as funding constraints, market uncertainties, and regulatory barriers can often threaten to stunt the growth of businesses that are still in their infancy.
It is thus important to bear in mind what being an entrepreneur really means, at its core. Here, etymology provides a heartening reminder – the original French loanword is a combination of “entre” and “prehendere,” imbibing upon the term the notion of submersing oneself in between (entre) in order to seize hold (prehendere) of the opportunities that abound.
Financing a business
Many startups are typically funded by the founder at first and later with the help of family, friends, or angel investors; for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), micro-loans to finance their businesses and business loans from banks and other financial institutions can be a great way to expand their operations while optimizing cash flow management. However, supportive ecosystems, access to capital, and favorable policies play a crucial role in nurturing entrepreneurial growth and amplifying their impact.
Singapore's government has been taking a proactive approach in building an ecosystem that is conducive for startups to grow, developing both its infrastructure and regulatory financial system to facilitate the growth and expansion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups alike. Singapore has retained its position as the best business environment over the next five years, according to EIU’s latest business environment rankings for the second quarter of 2023.
Business expansion and growth
For an entrepreneur considering business expansion, having a well-crafted business plan is paramount to minimize costly mistakes. Many times, business owners create a business plan to get start-up funding and never refer to it again. The key to achieving the objectives is to implement the strategies one has already invested time (and maybe money) in developing.
Hiring the absolute best people and having the right talent with experts in finance, technology, sales, marketing et al is equally crucial to fostering a collaborative work culture. The tech industry in particular is transforming rapidly and has left many companies struggling to find and retain people with the right skill sets to meet present and future challenges. As per Global Tech Trends Survey, the vast majority (87%) of Singapore businesses are investing in upskilling initiatives by drawing candidates from adjoining career paths to meet present and future challenges.
A market analysis considering the financial aspects of the expansion and identifying potential risks is critical too. This analysis can be time-intensive, but it lets a business owner gain a greater understanding of their audience and competition, identify emerging trends, and help project revenue.
While entrepreneurship involves getting the idea off the ground, leadership is taking your role to a whole new level and a change of mindset. It requires a knack for managing people effectively and delegating some of your decision-making power to your staff members. They should also be open to learning from others and willing to invest in their education and development. These skills can pave way for entrepreneurs to take more prominent roles such as becoming a CEO of their own company. A strong business acumen accompanied by a growth mindset and willingness to take risks are some of the traits shared by many successful entrepreneurs in the past.
Business continuity and succession planning
Entrepreneurship has always been a field of uncertainty. Employee departures are inevitable and having a contingency plan is always helpful to minimize disruptions. Having a well-documented process for all vital business functions, such as marketing, operations and finance can make it easier for the successor to take over seamlessly (if needed) and minimize the likelihood of the company going into crisis.
In conclusion, entrepreneurship is a journey that is filled with highs and lows, hence requiring resilience, adaptability, and a clear vision. The business landscape will always evolve, making it necessary for entrepreneurs to remain agile and proactive – this is what allows one to seize new opportunities and navigate periods of uncertainty. Much as entrepreneurship can sometimes be a disheartening journey, it is important to bear in mind the core essence of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Hence, failure should not simply be seen as the absence of success, but the very tool that one can leverage in order to thrive in any economic climate. This way, entrepreneurs can continue to drive innovation and contribute to the global economy.
Colin Kleine is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Scalerr, a growth catalyst that helps tech companies scale and grow their valuation through international expansion.