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Are Singaporeans cut out for entrepreneurship?

In an article that appeared in the TODAY paper, Young entrepreneurs thriving in Singapore, 13 May, I read that Singapore ranked 2nd for its entrepreneurial activity in a study of 25 comparable economies done globally by NTU (Nanyang Technological University). On the surface, it would seem that Singapore is a thriving hotbed for creativity, risk-taking and business acumen.

But after speaking to numerous of my friends and probing them on their ownership of creativity, risk-taking or business acumen, I find only a minority possess some of those above traits. So either I have very little friends, very low quality friends or something’s got to give. And something’s got to give.

Shortly after, again in the papers, I read about how much the government was doing to promote and support budding start-up with various funds and schemes. And even saw that a 3-D printing start-up managed to raise over $600K. These are positives, and the government are doing the part promoting start-ups. However, I believe the problem is here to stay, that Singaporeans are inherently afraid to fail, and that mentality was handed down during our formative years in primary and secondary school. Failing was unacceptable. And there was only one measure of success: academic results.

Singaporeans, myself included, prefer to cower behind safety nets and iron bowls, and when that was snatched during the economic downturn, we turned to half-hatched plots to earn that little bit that completes the hand to mouth cycle. I’m not trying to belittle what we’ve done. I’m just saying, I do not think we are risk-takers or instinctively seek to be different and think outside the box. We don’t. But we might get there. We have the resolution and the drive; It’s in our blood.

This article I read on TODAY highlighted the creative ways people come up with to earn an extra $1,000 a month here or some pocket money there in addition to their regular job or while studying. Yes, that’s good practice, but I wonder how effective that mindset is in the long run because no one really is thinking that this will be a full time job or a livelihood.

The article went on to quote some people saying they are happy to remain small-scale and would still like to keep their full time jobs. I ask, is this what we define as “young entrepreneurs thriving in Singapore”.

So my question to you is, do you have an idea but are too afraid to fail. If you answered yes, then you, my friend, are what Singapore will consider a young entrepreneur. You’ll get a job, but think about this desire/hobby/idea/business, and you will delve into in half-heartedly…eventually. You might see a little success or immediate failure, but going into it full-time will never be on the plate.



Royalty-free photo from Getty Images. Used with appreciation.


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