There are these three questions that people ask me a lot these days.
"Wah! You lost weight ah? How you do it ah?"
"Eh! Your son damn cute leh!! Bring him out and play can or not?"
"Boss! Business doing well I see? Go on newspapers and all. Good life liao lor. Rich liao don't forget me leh"
Good life? You gotta be kidding me. In fact, you have more to worry and more to do than anyone else in the team. Before your business starts to earn big money, you are just a staff that works longer hours with more worries.
The truth about being a business owner is that it's never easy no matter how big or small your business is.
The big businesses have their own set of worries to manage in terms of investment, competition, and what not.
While new businesses and startups have another set of problems. One of the biggest problems startups face even before the problem of getting customers is actually the problem of making friends. Not only do we need customers but we also need strong support and partners. As easy as it seems these days with the help of social media and emails, it is still not that easy to find the right people to help you with the right thing. Imagine you have a very good product for Apple but do you think cold calls or random emails will get you somewhere?
People see the glamorous side of starting up a business, being recognised as "boss", but nobody sees the pain and agony every successful (or not) businessman went through. Many might believe that "you will be able to make it as long as you work hard", but I disagree. I'm not trying to say that hard work is not important but I'm saying that it's not everything and in fact, hard work has very little to do with success if you are doing a lot but doing it wrong.
Many will say that we work smart and not work hard. Well, I choose to believe it's about who you know.
Hosted by U Startup. Mr. Vivek Kumar, NTUC Membership, U Associates, U Creative, U Startup & U Future Leaders. (His title can fight with Game of Thrones Characters)
So last week I managed to "sneak" myself into the inaugural U Startup Exchange - Healthcare Series as an observer. (See, knowing the right people and being able to be at the right place). Of course, this probably has nothing to do with me since I'm not in the Healthcare segment but I was rather intrigued by the fact that there is this thing known as NTUC U Startup .
According to what I've read, NTUC U Startup was initiated by the Labour Movement in 2016 to support the thriving startup community in Singapore. It aims to connect startups to the wider NTUC’s network - unionised companies, Small and Medium Enterprises, U Associate of professional guilds/ professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), and network of freelancers and self-employed.
This forum is a closed-door event involving some 25 - 30 guests comprising government representatives, hospitals, and healthcare service providers, healthcare professionals, community representatives of patients and caregivers, as well as tech startups that provide solutions to the healthcare industry.
One of the Laojiao in the industry - Dr Phua Kai Hong (Associate Professor, Health Policy and Management, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy) who is also the moderator for the forum.
As unfamiliar as I am with the healthcare segment, I can imagine how such sessions can benefit almost every industry. In a nutshell, they are bringing together some of the most important people and stakeholders in a single industry to discuss about how they can work together to bring the industry to a new height. For these healthcare guys, one of the biggest challenges is how to be future-ready to tackle our ageing population.
Closer to heart, I can imagine a session between some bigger advertising agencies, boutique agencies, freelancers, bloggers as well as client representatives from both government and non-government bodies at one session to talk about some common issues within the industry. How to create industry understanding, industry standards, industry benchmarks, how to better offer solutions as well as how to better receive help to make ensure fairness, payment terms etc. We always mention "industry standard" but more often than not, it's from our personal experience and peers which probably ain't enough to really justify as "industry practice".
We usually hangout within our own peers and industry partners and it is really not common that certain people will meet. For example, what's the chance of a director of a hospital to be mingling at a startup event (if not invited as a special guest), or what's the chance for a small startup guy to get invited to big time charity ball where the directors and CEOs rub shoulders? So what U Startup has done is to create a platform that does not normally exist for all to come together to thrash things out. It is able to do so as it has the connectivity of a wide network. No wonder Chan Chun Sing says NTUC is like Changi Airport.
I think this initiative by NTUC is really good. Building on their massive network to help each industry to create stronger bond from the top to bottom of the whole product chain. Imagine how much time one can save with such connections bridged. Connections aside, ideas were also generated during the session after everyone got to know the kind of problem they are each facing.
U Startup might have conducted this session but I'm sure it's not just the startups that benefited from this session. I can't wait for them to have some sessions that I can be part of!
Still think that starting a business is easy? Well, it is not. But I guess with such initiatives you CAN say that it is getting slightly easier day by day.