Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021, Good Life X brought together ten remarkable entrepreneurs to answer the tough questions of being an entrepreneur and unlock the secrets of being great at what they do. The discussion focussed on understanding if entrepreneurship is a mindset (i.e. does it require a shift in perspective, a new outlook on life?) or is it a skillset (something that can be acquired by learning and continuous repetition?)
For some the secret sauce of being an entrepreneur included having a combination of the right mindset and the right skillset. However, the majority’s consensus on being a successful entrepreneur included soft skills and approaches to problem solving which ultimately included having the right mindset.
Digging deeper into what really constituted the ‘x-factor’ of being an entrepreneur, we unlocked four key mindset shifts which were the foundation to their success.
The ultimate game changer to any entrepreneurial adventure is understanding what value a product or service brings to the market. Drawing from her illustrious career, Casie Millhouse, Founder - Immersive Capital Matching Tool & President - VRARA Singapore Chapter shares her learnings and motivations which set her on the path of entrepreneurship. Casie says that her journey started from a need for fulfilment in life and an unsatiated hunger for solving problems. However, an individual’s approach and creativity when faced with challenges don’t make an “entrepreneur” , says Casie. “In my definition that doesn't qualify as being an entrepreneur, that’s just being a problem solver. The shift from being a problem solver to bringing value to people is what’s important. And that’s the foundation of entrepreneurship”
Being reliable and responsible vs taking risks to grow is a constant conundrum for entrepreneurs across any sector or size. While stability is fundamental to ensure continuity of business operations, risks are a necessity for growth and transformation. The Covid-19 pandemic frequently forced entrepreneurs to make hard decisions of choosing business continuity vs risk-enabled growth. Alagan Mahalingam, Founder, CEO, and Chief Software Architect of Rootcode Labs reflected on the tough decision he made at the height of the pandemic, when pressures were mounting to downsize and choose stability. While this appeared to be a viable option, Alagan instead chose to retain his team and soldier on. This Alagan claims is one of the best decisions he made - “People told me, if you hold on you’re going to fail. Downsize, play it safe. I sold out on all my stocks and took out my savings to keep things afloat. During that year we ended up winning a global competition, and the team started to appreciate what I was doing. Now we are stronger than ever”
A big part of being a successful entrepreneur includes the willingness to continuously learn and unlearn, and the audacity to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Each stage of growth in the entrepreneurial journey comes with its unique challenges. Having a curious mindset devoid of the weight of your ego, and the determination to ‘see things through’ has been a rewarding journey to Chanchala Gunewardena, Founder & CEO of Kimbula Kithul. Chanchala reflects on how her entrepreneurial adventure changed the trajectory of her life’s plan, and how continuous learning has been the driving force.
“The journey of doing this has made me pick up skill sets and all that I have done along the way has helped connect the dots. On the food side, on the agriculture side, learning from researchers, farmers, learning about finances and production has been wholly new.
I’m a cautious risk taker, but as I grow, building that capacity and putting myself in position to learn has a lot to do with having the right mindset”
Building successful products and services might be the overarching goals of all entrepreneurs across the world. Identifying the right product, and a market for it is a whole other story. While some have been privileged to carry on a torch of a family legacy, or be in the right place at the right time, Dhanika Perera, Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of Helakuru and PayHere finds inspiration in everyday circumstances. Dhanika shared his transformative journey of building two unique products - which have revolutionized the way in which people communicate and make digital transactions. Dhanika attributes the inception of Helakuru (a Sinhala phonetic keyboard) to wanting to simplify the way Sri Lankans communicated online. And he did just that, by building an intuitive and accessible application, which is being used by more than 10 million people.
When it came to Dhanika’s next venture - PayHere - it was a long and arduous journey. Building an online payment gateway, despite regulatory restrictions, and challenging the Central Bank took a whole lot of guts, gall, and grit. Contemplating on that journey, Dhanika says “It was do or die. Perseverance was the skill that helped me build that badass product”
The key to unlocking a successful product or service is to keenly observe markets, people, and everyday transactions., Kasper Dam, CEO of Kand.io perfectly summed this up, when he said “You don’t have to come up with a unicorn or the next best thing, you simply have to find a market with more demand than supply”
Celebrating entrepreneurs across the world has never been more important, as they continue to play a critical role in sustaining economies during a global pandemic. Despite having to face immense challenges, they have committed to showing up and creating value. We are grateful to the ten remarkable entrepreneurs who shared their stories, and are a source of everyday inspiration.