Entrepreneurship : A Personal View

A collection of comments made by Dr. Y. Y.  Wong, Chairman of The Wy Wy Group at The International Forum from 1997-2001

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Entrepreneurship is the most misused term in business. So let me give you my definition for entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is the enthusiastic thirst to create and innovate purposeful ideas that are implemented with passion for extraordinary gains.

Enthusiastic is to highlight that entrepreneurship must be formed by truth and ripped by integrity to exclude illegal business.  According to the Webster Dictionary the world enthusiasm is derived from two words: "en" meaning "in" "theos" meaning "God".  Hence enthusiasm must be pure.

The words "create" and "innovate" are used as follows.  "Create" is original ideas and "innovate" is the physical commercialization of original ideas.  In entrepreneurship all ideas must be purposeful.

To underscore that entrepreneurship is a practice, the word "passion" was included.  The word "passion" is a derivative from the Latin word "passio", meaning suffering being acted upon.  Entrepreneurship requires perseverance, persistence, determination, hard work, long hours and long suffering.

It is not uncommon for a car salesman, hawker, any wealth creator to be called an entrepreneur, and that has created many myths on entrepreneurship.

  1. The biggest motivation for entrepreneurs is money
  2. Entrepreneurs are wealthy and successful
  3. East Asian overseas Chinese are entrepreneurial. East Asian overseas Chinese are very enterprising and hard working, but not necessarily entrepreneurial. They are great wealth creators and they are great financial engineers. Historically, they created wealth through disequilibria's of markets not product or service innovations.
  4. It is noteworthy that creativity has been stifled for a very long time in East Asia. For example, up to 200 years ago, a student of Chinese Art was not allowed to paint in a style that was different from the master teachers.

  5. Entrepreneurs are great risk takers. Risks are for hedging, apportioning and distributing NOT FOR TAKING. If at all, entrepreneurs only take insurance typed risks. Let me give an example. A heart transplant is a high-risk operation. But the risk taker is not the surgeon, the risk taker is the patient.

Warren Buffet has this to say about risk taking: "When I cross bridges, I like to give myself a lot of room for safety. I build bridges that carry 30,000 lbs. trucks for my 10,000 lbs. trucks to cross. That is how I like to cross bridges."

The daring to make mistakes should not be mistaken as high risk taking. Success is a process, and getting it wrong is part of getting it right. It is great to make mistakes as long as they are NEW mistakes.

The "never give in spirit" is an entrepreneur spirit. A high risk taking spirit is a gambler spirit. The most convincing argument is - I have yet to meet an honest banker rushing out to finance a high risk taker.

Are entrepreneurs born or made? Talents are born, but entrepreneurs are made. Simply because it takes a lot of discipline, hard work and sacrifice to be an entrepreneur.

I believe that entrepreneurship is not teachable as in formal education programs.  Knowledge and skills that are important to one are acquired through observation, engagement and experience.  Entrepreneurship is therefore not a matter of IQ type analytical intelligence.  It does not correlate with IQ scores and superior school performance.  An entrepreneur needs a strong sense of self awareness, impulse control, persistence, zeal, self motivation, social deftness and a "can do" spirit.  Simply put, anyone can do business.  That is easy.  But to do business with the right person, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way.  That is not easy.

Finally entrepreneurship is not an art or a science.  It is a practice.  As words are not deeds and words are rarely converted into action unless proselytized with zeal, carried with passion, sustained by conviction and fortified by faith.

It needs doers, not talkers