PETALING JAYA: Vignesh Sundaresan, a Singapore-based blockchain entrepreneur, created enough buzz last week for the art world to take notice of him when he paid a whopping US$69mil (RM286.11mil) in cryptocurrency for a piece of digital art.
He was reported to have said that he is a minimalist and does not even own a car or apartment. But his wallet seems to be filled with virtual money.
Northwards in Japan, Megumi Saka opened @Kitchen in May last year, right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic when other restaurants were closing down. Within eight months, she managed to open five restaurants.
Similarly, mushroom.lah, a local start-up, started serving mushroom rendang June last year from its home kitchen.
Today, it has more items on its menu – the products are available in select restaurants and it has set up a website to take orders.
These are just some examples of people who dared to believe that they can make money even during a pandemic or an economic slowdown.
There are in fact plenty of self-made millionaires and billionaires around. What keeps them going is their holding power, passion, perseverance and confidence in what they do.
The pandemic has caused many to lose their jobs. At the last count, there are over 100,000 jobs cuts locally. Many are still worried about their jobs and even switching job comes with a risk.
The pandemic has also given many an opportunity to realise their dream of becoming their own boss.
Though some have made it, there are some losers too. Equally, many are thinking if this is a good time to start something new since the vaccination process has begun in the country.
Seasoned entrepreneur Tan Thiam Hock has this advice to offer: “If you can sustain till 2022, then this is a good time to start.’’
“Prior to the pandemic, anytime was a good time for entrepreneurship, ’’ he added.
He said malls were also desperate for tenants and if one is looking for a shoplot at a mall, one could possibly get better rental rates and lot location.
Saka reportedly said the pandemic gave her the opportunity to grow as an entrepreneur. When her restaurant Washoku’s sales tanked 85% because of the pandemic, she turned to set up @kitchen.
She said: “In any chaotic situation, there are always people who come up with new ideas; I wanted to be one of them.’’
Tan would not say what is a good business to start with even though the food business from home kitchens and delivery services have been thriving since the onset of movement control order last March.
The idea has to come from the individual and so must the passion and determination.
“Whatever the business, you must know if there is a market for your service or product. You also need to be mindful of competition, ’’ he added. There are plenty of self help books on how to become successful entrepreneurs.
People become entrepreneurs for various reasons. For some, money is the main motivator; for others, it is a passion that drives them to create and share. Yet many want freedom and not be stuck to a 9-to-5 grind.
Having the money gives you financial freedom to do what you want, just like Vignesh, who could pay the big bucks for an art piece.
The reasons may be different for each person, and so will the journey, but some basic rules apply when one is thinking of becoming an entrepreneur.
Experts believe that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need good ideas, hard work, investment and luck. Hard work also means working smart, delegating, hiring the right people and setting clear goals.
To Tan, the key pointers are to have a clear vision of the market situation and learn from the young and old, as the older ones have more experience. Mentorship also helps.
“Start small and have a feel of the situation before putting in more money to grow the business, ’’ Tan added.
He said we “cannot discourage entrepreneurship. It is everyone’s dream but whether they are cut out for it, is the question. I would say, be careful, trade with caution.”
“Whatever the dream, lower your expectations. Then it is easier to manage your own and others’ expectations. And set realistic targets (in the current economic climate), ’’ Tan added.
Another entrepreneur said: “There is never a right time to start a business. There will never be an ideal moment. You just need to be brave to start something if you have the passion, money, determination and confidence. A business will die without a steady flow of cash.’’
What could possibly go wrong? “Everything, and the pandemic has made things worse for some businesses. If you are not making big investments and taking too big a risk, then things should be okay, ’’ Tan added.
Azran Osman-Rani, a former CEO of several companies who turned his sights to digital therepeutics with Naluri Hidup Sdn Bhd, had so many investors turning him down initially. But he managed to ride the tide, secured funding and scaled new heights by making a difference in people’s lives.
“Every day we help one person is a day that’s worth all the blood, sweat and tears of being an entrepreneur, ’’ he said.
Can you be a millionaire overnight?
Tan believes it is not possible in the current climate and you should be lucky to survive.
Be prepared for setbacks and failures but if you are confident in your own vision and are determined to succeed, then work around it.
Keep a lookout for opportunities as even a small idea can lead to success; you just need to do enough research to take that bold step.