“The key qualities to be a successful Malaysian entrepreneur are curiosity, tenacity, speed and most important of all, being humble,” says Azran Osman-Rani, former CEO of AirAsia X and founder of lifestyle brand Naluri.
When we hear the word ‘entrepreneur’, we think of the Steve Jobs and Elon Musks of the world — the ‘shock and awe’ presentation skills, the million-dollar IPOs, the genius product that people fall head over heels for.
Our Malaysian entrepreneurs aren’t as flashy as Tony Stark, but they are powerhouses in their own right. Here are what makes an entrepreneur stand out from the rest:
1. Entrepreneurs are driven by Curiosity
Entrepreneurs are driven by their curious nature.
Every now and then, you may have had a great business idea, but what’s the point if you didn’t do anything about it?
For CK Chang, founder of Oxwhite, there was a gap in the market when it came to affordable white shirts, and he decided to meet that need.
On a trip to the UK, he went to the famous Saville Row to get a tailor-made shirt to a custom fitting, which made him “feel like Superman.”
CK wondered why it was so affordable for our European counterparts to dress that well, whereas here in Malaysia, it’s a few thousand ringgit.
So, driven by his conviction, he started his own white shirt brand. His shorts go for a fraction of the price of his Western counterparts.
“When I started Oxwhite, I wanted to bring that quality over to the Asian market, so they can enjoy the same level of comfort at a more affordable price, ” he said in this interview.
Come hear CK Chang speak on his journey with Oxwhite at Malaysian Confessions: Real Entrepreneurs Real Stories on 7th March 2020. Get your tickets here.
2. For Entrepreneurs, Speed is of the Essence
Most of us who have been through the education system where mistakes were penalised, and we developed a fear of failure as a result.
But not entrepreneurs. They are desensitised to failure, and they know that it is a fact of life that you are going to make mistakes — but you need to act quickly.
Ernie Chen is a motivational speaker who coaches businesspeople from around Asia. When asked about what advice he’d give his younger self, he said:
“One piece of advice I would give my younger self is to make mistakes faster, quicker so that I could have learnt faster, quicker so that I would’ve been able to move faster, quicker to the things that I’m doing today,” he was quoted as saying.
In fact, most entrepreneurs make lots of mistakes early on, but the key thing is how quickly they rise to solve the problem.
“It’s ok to make mistakes, but you need to learn very quickly to make sure you adjust to the right solution,” says Eric Cheng, founder of Carsome.
Entrepreneurs don’t make fewer mistakes, they make more of them in a shorter amount of time.
Eric Cheng will be at Malaysian Confessions: Real Entrepreneurs Real Stories to talk about his Carsome journey on 7th March 2020. To hear his story, grab your tickets here.
3. Tenacity: Life is a marathon, not a 100-meter dash
Resilience is the quality of being able to bounce back easily from failure or setbacks. One must be willing to pace oneself if one is in it for the long haul.
It’s not an easy thing to do for most people. Through life, lots of people are crushed under the weight of their fears, anxieties, depression, and regrets.
But entrepreneurs have developed a certain flexibility of mind that allows them to recover quickly from setbacks. The question is, how?
Rachel Tan is the CEO of In Real Life Media, and is coincidentally the founder of this very website, In Real Life Malaysia.
Within one year, she grew the site to 1,000,000 views together with co-founder Khairie Apirin — but it was her experiences with Shopee and Nuffnang that forged her tenacity to position her to lead the site.
“Working in startups from when they are not known and visible, you need to be resilient, adaptive and things are constantly changing,” Rachel shared with me.
“Challenges are thrown in your face but if there was an experience that I hold dearly, it’s being able to work across various functions. Being exposed to these ups and downs allowed me to not be fearful of the uncertainties and keep driving forward.”
It was this experience that taught Rachel the importance of resilience.
Come hear our founder, Rachel share her experiences of working at Nuffnang and Shopee at Malaysian Confessions: Real Entrepreneurs, Real Stories! Get your tickets here.
4. At the heart of it all, entrepreneurs want to change the world.
At the core of an effective entrepreneur is their drive to change the world through their innovations.
Entrepreneurs understand what it is they are here to do, and they go ahead and do it. It provides clarity of purpose.
For example, social enterprises use entrepreneurship to make the world better.
Then Mugilan uses his online portal Juara UPSR to help 24,000 students from underprivileged backgrounds get through their UPSR exams.
“I strongly believe that education is the agent of change,” says Then Mugilan, affectionately called ‘Cikgu Lan’ but his students.
Mugilan was jobless and depressed for 6 months, but when he met Vince Tan, his mentor, everything changed.
Vince inspired Mugilan to become a social entrepreneur: using start-ups to develop solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues, not just to make money.
At the time, Mugilan had a little dream: “To make sure every single socio-economically disadvantaged child has access to quality education.”
The former civil servant was sure it was an unattainable dream, one that would fail even before it left the ground.
But Vince told him: “Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your current reality. Just work your butt off to upgrade your conviction to fit your dream.”
Just like that, his words enabled Mugilan to see life from a new perspective.
Cikgu Lan isn’t the only one who’s a rebel with a cause. Suzanne Ling is the co-founder of PichaEats. Her startup helps refugees sell catering services to customers.
“Our customers aren’t just customers — they’re change-makers because each of their purchases is directly impacting the lives of the refugee families,” says Suzanne Ling.
Both Suzanne and Mugilan will both be speaking at Malaysian Confessions: Real Entrepreneurs, Real Stories. To hear their personal journeys to where they are now, get your tickets here.
Come hear these entrepreneurs’ stories at Malaysian Confessions: Real Entrepreneurs, Real Stories on 7th March!
Entrepreneurs all have life lessons that we can learn from and be inspired to make a change in our own lives.
If you are inspired by these stories, come to our event!
Organised by In Real Life Media, Malaysian Confessions: Real Entrepreneurs, Real Stories is a one-day talk specially catered for Malaysians who want to hear stories from Malaysian entrepreneurs.
From CK Chang, Azran Osman-Rani, Suzanne Ling, Rachel Tan and Cikgu Lan, we will hear about their journeys at the coveted event space UnionSPACE @ APW Bangsar.
Gain insights from experts in the fields of digital marketing, personal branding and entrepreneurship that will take your career to the next level.
If you are new to entrepreneurship or even a seasoned professional, this conference is for you.
Buy your tickets on our Eventbrite page here, and we’ll see you there, don’t miss this golden opportunity!
Title: Malaysian Confessions: Real Entrepreneurs, Real Stories.
Date: 7th March 2020 (Saturday)
Time: 9am – 6pm
Facebook event page: RSVP here
For more information, check out our event webpage.