An Open Letter to Entrepreneurs

Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”Farrah Gray

I am a member of the corporate world, still in the midst of building my relatively young career. Sometime ago, I came across a quote by Farrah Gray, who began his entrepreneurial career at the age of six selling homemade lotion and hand-painted rocks door-to-door. Knowing myself, I sighed it off and went back to my desk job, looking at prices of stocks I don’t own and writing reports I know very few people will read.

It is the age of startups – the entrepreneurial boom. An unrelenting trend that started more than a decade ago in the United States, the boom have permeated rapidly into the global arena enabled by technology. For the first time, the fashionable “be-your-own-boss” lifestyle of the Bay Area has become the overwhelmingly preferred choice over Wall Street for MIT and Stanford graduates. Social media has also allowed people to design and brand themselves. No one is simply a doctor, or a travel journalist, or a accountant these days. People are now bloggers, lifestyle entrepreneurs, influencers and Youtubers. Technology has created the youngest millionaires than ever before! China have also used their massive resources towards technology and giving Silicon Valley a good run for their money. Have you seen what Alibaba is doing with Starbucks? I remain at awe with this Augmented Reality (AR)-enabled Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, the only other one for Starbucks outside of Seattle.

Needless to say, I am faschinated at what entrepreneurs are doing. There are days when I wake up dragging myself out of bed, for a job I only sometimes enjoy, answering to a boss I can’t stand. Everyone loves bureaucracy, says no one, right! However, corporate gigs like mine have its perks too. I can zombie my way through the month and still get my pay. Meanwhile, every waking hour of yours is spent on driving sales and numbers, making sure you pay this month’s salaries, thinking and rethinking your strategy. That drive you pocess is incredible.

I understand each of us have our own reason for choosing our paths. Perhaps, for you, it’s having the flexibility to spend more time with your children. Maybe it’s out of obligation. You have to continue the family business your old man have built with blood, sweat and tears – the very business he raised you with since young. Perhaps it is sheer passion and love for a product you have developed; a solution for mankind. Maybe the money is just so darn good.

But I’m sure, just like with everything else, there’ll be bumps on the road. For what it’s worth, I am humbly proposing to you, from the outside, in hopes of encouraging you, that the true worth of your hard work is really the service you bring to mankind through value creation and people development.

In the Market

Many of your businesses today exist to solve our daily problems, to simplify processes and to make things efficient. The hours and thought you put in have allowed people to access items and services they would not have been able to previously. The micro and small businesses find niche products and services that fills in the gaps bigger corporations aren’t able to. In a culture where the market speaks for itself, entrepreneurship democratises the economy and cuts through red tapes and rent-seeking practices.

In the Economy

Understanding your customers and their preferences and trends, you’ll innovatively package a suite of services that’s better priced, efficient, and direct to the customers. They get more out of their money. That’s real value creation. The kind that literally adds to our GDP growth. The relationship between your work and the value you create is a lot clearer and higher. This often presents true self-satisfaction. For many employees, like myself, it can sometimes be very difficult to attribute a considerably large percentage of our daily work in a company, to real tangible value.

Value Chain

The success of your business sometimes is not predicated only on the development of your coup. While you establish and run your company, you are indirectly also building a pool of skill sets amongst your investors, your suppliers, your service contractors, your employees and your customers. As entrepreneurs develop new processes, efficient technology, you are in actuality educating an ecosystem of people around you. As they say, rising tide raises all boats.

In the Office

In your dynamic and innovative mindset, you value output more than the gruelling 10 work-hour days. Capitalising on technology for productivity and communication, you’re able to create a workforce who are able to have flexible working hours, have better quality of life, and thus churn higher quality results. It’s been proven that the happier the employees are, the more loyal and hardworking they’ll be. This culture has now been adopted by major corporations like Google, Maxis, and AirAsia. It’s not a surprise they’re leading their respective industries too.

I monitor and work with blue chip and top companies to invest in as a career, many of them entrepreneur-ran. In my years of experience, the secret for your survival and your success lies not in your specific recipe or scientific formula or patented business model.

It lies in YOU!

There is real truth to this. It is your agility, flexibility and persistence, your trouble shooting skills, the difficult steps you unwillingly take, the kind of stress you have to handle, and your ability to wake up again the next day to do it all over again. To me, these are the other kinds of values that you wear on your sleeves.

If you encounter this letter as you are thinking about giving up, know that I write this in hopes of encouraging you and ensuring you that the value you create with your business is so much more than you can imagine. There is true satisfaction in finding that you leave more than just a financial trail with your business, but also the value you create for the industry, the country and other people. I hope you find it.

Try Not to Become a Man of Success. Rather Become a Man of Value” – Albert Einstein

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