is defined as the capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business
venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit. As opposed to a salaried executive, a startup
entrepreneur has to wait for his venture to realize a profit before he can earn an income. This may take
time and his ability to sustain the enterprise without an income is the risk he has to undergo.
An entrepreneur can be described as an
all-rounder. Under normal circumstances, entrepreneurs start
their businesses from
scratch. They will be involved in all stages of the business, right from the start to
the end. This is actually critical for the entrepreneur. As the owner of the enterprise, the entrepreneur
needs to be well versed in the entire chain of the business. A deep understanding of the business is
necessary for the entrepreneur to develop strategies that can beat competition. This is only possible if the
entrepreneur knows his product or services well enough to develop strategies that can capture market
All entrepreneurs have to go through the
mill to succeed. Businessmen who have been successful through
patronage or heritage is technically not an entrepreneur. They have not gone through the mill where they
will experience the
hardship of building a successful enterprise.
As a start, entrepreneurs need to raise
capital to start his venture. He will then need to find the right
associates to partner him in the enterprise. Partners are important as they provide ideas, opinions and a
sounding board for the entrepreneur to navigate his journey of entrepreneurship. Partners are also
instrumental to provide motivation and company for the entrepreneur to sustain his new endeavor!
Entrepreneurs themselves must be ready to face the challenges of entrepreneurship. Apart from risk,
entrepreneurs must work independently and self-motivated. They have no superiors breathing down their
neck and need to establish their own milestones.
Discipline becomes a key characteristic to an
entrepreneur. Other than that, entrepreneurs are visionary, has strategic focus, innovative and possess
natural leadership ability.
Successful entrepreneurs usually begin from scratch in a field that they have
expertise in. This is the first
key to entrepreneurial success. Many entrepreneurs start their enterprise into businesses that they are
not familiar with. The result is disappointing. Along the way, the entrepreneur may lose interest in the
business. The business could also lose out to competition in terms of innovation or customer satisfaction.
Without any expertise, such entrepreneurs are unable to compete and will struggle to find a
Entrepreneurship is also about translating
skills and knowledge into a profitable business. A carpenter
who lacks entrepreneurship will remain a carpenter for the rest of his life. However, an enterprising
carpenter who turns his carpentry skills into products that has a market demand is essentially an
A classic example is the story of Lim Kim Hong who now controls the public listed company, I-Berhad. Born
to a poor family, he has to drop out of school after his primary education in Muar due to financial
constraints. To make a living, he worked as a carpenter in a local furniture shop. After three years of
apprenticeship, he decided to horne his skills in making beds and mattresses. He saw the need for better
mattresses in the country and through sheer innovation, he invented the country’s first spring mattress
under the brand name of Dreamland. With the support of friends, he obtained financial assistance to
market his product nationwide and eventually to China. The rest is history. His company was listed in 1987
and eventually in 1993, he sold the business for RM350 million in cash. From mattresses, he shifted to the
digital and property development industry. Now, he is the proud owner of the RM3 billion i-city
development project in Bukit Raja, Klang. This is a true example of an innovative entrepreneur.

Base on the above story, I can conclude that entrepreneurship is about three basic core qualities namely
pioneering, networking and innovating.
As a pioneer, entrepreneurs are
self-starters. With the skill that they possess, they have a vision of how
to translate that skill into a thriving business. They have ideas on how their skills can develop products or
services that can be accepted by the consumers. Most entrepreneurs have great
foresight with respect to
the market dynamics. This is probably due to their innate character. A shining example of an entrepreneur
who has great foresight is Loh Boon Siew, the founder of Kah Motors, the exclusive distributor of Honda
cars and motorcycles in Malaysia. Loh started as a bicycle repairer in the 1950s and gradually work himself
up to become a motor mechanic. At that time, the country only imports heavy motorcycles from the UK
and the US. Loh saw the need for Malayans to have a lighter and simpler motorcycle especially for the
rural folks where tar roads are still a luxury then. He found out that Honda in Japan produces light weight
motorcycles that are very economical in terms of price and petrol consumption. With the help of friends,
he took the step to import Honda Cubs into the country. Honda Cubs eventually became the bestselling
motorcycle in the country and made Loh a billionaire.
Entrepreneurs are prepared to go the
hard way to build their business from the bottom. This is where
they learn to be
thrifty and ensure that every penny spent is accounted for. During startup, they face the
tough challenge of managing finances to ensure that the enterprise is eventually profitable. Money
management is key during start up process. Most successful entrepreneurs practice cost containment and
lean management in the initial period of the enterprise.
Once the product or service is ready for rollout, the entrepreneur will have to start looking for ways to
market them. This is quite challenging as a newcomer to the industry will surely need time and effort to
gain consumer acceptance and trust.

This is where networking becomes handy. Entrepreneurs must establish a large network of contacts in
order to succeed. These contacts can either support in terms of feedback, ideas, know how or bridging for
opportunities. Without a network of contacts, the new enterprise will either progress slowly or probably
wither to extinction. Entrepreneurs who made it to the top normally have connections that facilitate
expansion of their business. The power of friends and contacts is a key ingredient for the enterprise to
grow rapidly. This is evident in the examples of the two successful entrepreneurs illustrated above.
Most entrepreneurs become successful as a result of having the right team working with them. The team
is able to provide creative ideas on how to move the enterprise forward. At this juncture, the entrepreneur
becomes the leader of the group. He motivates and mobilizes the team to deliver their common
objectives. There will be fallouts no doubt when the enterprise is gearing upwards. Nonetheless, it takes
tenacity, grit and leadership for the entrepreneur to chart the right direction for the enterprise. This is
what we call
entrepreneurial leadership.
Entrepreneurial leadership is about leading a core group of pioneering associates to drive the business.
At this stage, everything is still in experimental mode. The ability to sustain the interest and motivation of
the team to remain together is a pure test of human capability. This is where the entrepreneur’s
interpersonal skills are tested. His ability to motivate, inspire and set directions for the team is
differentiating factor between success and failure.
Core leadership qualities normally seen in an entrepreneur are
focus, self-discipline and sincerity. Being
focused, the entrepreneur knows exactly what he wants to do and how to do it. He will stick to his core
business until success is achieved. He will not digress to other business ventures at the expense of his
core activity.
Self-discipline is the second quality of entrepreneurial leadership.
Time is never enough for the
entrepreneur and he needs to multitask to achieve his goals. The entrepreneur has to focus on expanding

his business while juggling on organizational efficiency, customer satisfaction, networking and of course
his personal commitments. Given the multitude of tasks that he has to accomplish, he needs to
on what is important and what is necessary. Hence, self-discipline is a prerequisite to ensure the daily
regimen of fulfilling time to accomplish tasks is achieved. Without self-discipline, deadlines will not be
met and
procrastination will be a common habit. This will lead to credibility issues and the entrepreneur
will have to face the axe.
Sincerity is the third leadership quality that can entrepreneurs must have. Sincerity breeds
trust and this
virtue is the overarching value that guarantees performance and progress. Entrepreneurs that are not
trustworthy will get entangled in a sea of deceit, lies and inconsistency. Sooner than later they will lose
credibility and fail in their enterprise.
Finally, entrepreneurs need to be innovative. Innovation is the mother of invention and inventions are the
catalyst of business growth. Billionaire entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, Bill
Gates and Jeff Bezos thrive on innovation to succeed. In this digital age, innovation has become the
competitive edge for market supremacy. No entrepreneur can survive his business without constantly
investing in innovation.
By Azlan Ismail
January 20
th, 2019

Leave a Reply