I wouldn’t consider myself as a feminist—as I still enjoy it when a man opens the car door for me—but whenever I read about inspiring stories about female entrepreneurs, for example Evie Wong the founder of Solmer Swims, and Stacey Ferreira, Co-Founder of MySocialCloud, I get excited. Therefore I headed to the Startup Grind with that same excitement.
For those who don’t know what Startup Grind is, it’s actually a global community of startups, whereby they host events monthly in more than 170 cities and 60 countries. Previously they have hosted some of the most renowned entrepreneurs in Kuala Lumpur, including names like Christy Ng (ChristyNg.com), Khailee Ng (500 Startups), Cheryl Yeoh (MaGIC) and others.
The recent Startup Grind was held at Art Printing Work at Bangsar, where Grace Sai, the founder of The Hub Singapore was the speaker. Although Grace is based in Singapore, deep down she’s still a proud Ipoh girl, asking if there was any attendees from Ipoh, Perak. Grace graduated from University of Oxford for her MBA (Master of Business Administration) where she graduated with Distinction and is a Skoll Scholar.
As one of the pioneer entrepreneurs of the concept of co-working spaces in Southeast Asia, Grace shared that when The Hub started they only had 6 co-working spaces, and now they have 48.
Many things are being said about entrepreneurship and we’d think that every “successful” business is as fancy as it appears to be. Curious, I decided to ask Grace about some of the myths of entrepreneurship, based on her experience.
If you’re thinking of starting a business, here are three myths that Grace shared with us in an attempt to reveal the truth and reality of the situation.
#1 Entrepreneurs have the best jobs and entrepreneurship is the best thing to do.
There’s sexiness around entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship is anything but sexy. It is damn difficult. You have to bear all the burden yourself. In a company, your bosses bear that burden, your manager, there are many layers to share that burden and diffuse that burden. Whereas in the startup culture it’s all on you and your co-founder. Sometimes you can’t share that much with your team.
Imagine this at a dinner party. You are meeting up your old high school mates and as usual, you’d ask, “So what do you do now?” Your very charming and well dressed friend replies, “Oh I’m a self-made entrepreneur.” Instantly everyone gapes in awe and goes around patting his back and you start wishing you were him.
It’s easy to say that you’re an entrepreneur, but no one will know the sweat, blood, and tears you put into the business—no one will know better than yourself.
#2 This notion of being a heroic entrepreneur, or this “charismatic visionary” thing. It’s again, far from the truth.
Every successful entrepreneur is back by an even better team, and sometimes there’s not enough limelight shared with the team. Actually by choice, they [the team in the background] just don’t want to come to the limelight; but actually there’s this whole support system. It takes a whole village to raise a child, nothing can be more true than entrepreneurship.
I do believe that this is true because even as a member of the media, we tend to cast the attention mostly on the person who is at the forefront of a startup. Everyone wants to know who is the founder and who are the co-founders, but we should also spend some time to acknowledge the whole ecosystem that supports a startup—because those are the people who could either make or break it.
#3 Everyone’s always says there’s not enough money and they cannot find funding.
There’s a lot of money. There’s always enough funding. If you have the right way to mix with things, and you can verbalise that well, the money will be chasing after you. Your difficulty then will be: Which one will I pick?
Here is where soft skills play a crucial role. You can have the best innovative idea, but if you don’t know how to verbalise it and get people on board, it would be difficult to make sure it turns into reality.
Lesson of the event?
If you’re aspiring to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship, you should certainly stop believing these myths and face the harsh truths that it isn’t going to be easy (though if you make it, it will definitely be fulfilling). And of course, as cliché as it sounds, human beings are not perfect. Grace had this to say when there was a discussion regarding strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re not a business person, then find a partner who is one. I don’t believe in fixing weaknesses, life is too short. We have to play by our strengths but you have to complement your weaknesses with other people, that’s why you need to have a team, always.