A TEDx Presentation: The Road Less Travelled

24 Mar

Here’s a TEDx presentation where I share my experiences on the road less travelled and knowledge on entrepreneurship.

In this article, I’ll cover the entrepreneurship framework which will give you a macro perspective on what it’s all about.

My name is Ranford and I’m going share with you what entrepreneurship is all about.

Raise your hands if you think entrepreneurs are business owners. Okay, keep your hands there and look around.

We have about twenty to thirty percent of the people here who think that entrepreneurs are business owners.

This is actually the problem I’ve uncovered in the process of writing my book on entrepreneurship.

So you must be asking, “What’s the difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner?” Let me break it down for you, the definitions of an entrepreneur and a business owner.

Entrepreneurs solve problems and/or add value to the lives of others for a profit.

The keyword here is “the lives of others”. So it’s for people, and the profit is just a by-product.

Some of the characteristics of an entrepreneur are people who think of changing the world. They strive in chaos. When you give them system and structure, they’ll go crazy. They constantly challenge the status quo.

Entrepreneurs have a hard time in NS (National Service), they really hate regimentation. Life is such an adventure for them. They always think beyond themselves and they always think of giving back to society. They are always known to as the crazy ones.

Some examples I have for you are people like Thomas Edison, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs! I like what Seth said earlier about passion. These people are the really passionate people and I agree completely with what he said that the media is over selling passion. It’s more than passion that drives these people.

It’s for others. It’s for people. It’s for doing what they love and of course, for the profits. The media only promotes “passion, passion, passion”, it’s lopsided.

How about business owners? The definition of business owners is this:

Business owners solve problems and/or add value for a profit.

Do you see the differences now? It might not be very distinct but their primary focus is for profits whereas for entrepreneurs, their primary focus is for people!

This is where it gets confusing because in today’s time and age, entrepreneurs are always very synonymous with business owners. Because of this, it causes a lot of confusion when we talk about entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs and business owners.

With this in mind, I’ve created an entrepreneurship framework for all of us to have a bird’s eye view on what entrepreneurship is all about.

But before that, here are some characteristics of business owners. They love stability and certainty. They’re always for profits and bottom line. They enjoy security and sustainability. Their mantra is always system and structure.

Some examples are people like Michael Dell and Donald Trump. You know, if you’re not good at doing what you are doing in the business then you’re fired!

Let me go straight into the entrepreneur framework.

Entrepreneur vs. Business Owners

As you can see, entrepreneurs and business owners are on the two extreme ends of the spectrum. They are extremely opposite of each other.

“Entrepreneurs solve tomorrow’s problems today”

“Business owners create and sustain the problem solving process

You might be asking, “So where does a social enterprise or social entrepreneurship fall under?” It falls right smack in the middle, between these two quadrants right here.

Social Enterprise Quadrant

That’s where Sophee’s organisation is. If you remember her slides earlier, she’s saying that there’s a double bottom line. The social and the profits and it falls right smack in the middle.

One very good example I can give you, is this lady by the name of Anita Roddrick. For those of you who know her, she’s actually the founder of The Body Shop.

These three quadrants are for profits so take note.

Social Enterprise Anita Roddick

Where does the quadrant of charity exist? It exists beyond where entrepreneurship is – right here, for non-profit.

Charity Quadrant

This gives you a very good bird’s eye view of what entrepreneurship is all about.

Do take note of two points:

One, each quadrant is not mutually exclusive. What do I mean by that? It means that an individual will be able to shift from one quadrant to the next throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates

Two examples I have for you, the first example is Mark Zuckerberg. He started as an entrepreneur, founding Facebook in 2007. But today, seven years later, he’s actually the CEO of Facebook.

The next example I have for you is Bill Gates. Highly successful and rich guy who’s the former chairman of Microsoft. But today, he is focusing most, or if not all his time, energy and resources in his foundation called the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

So the question you have to ask yourselves today is this, “which category do I fall into? Am I more of an entrepreneur or more of a business owner? Do I strive in chaos or in certainty? Am I more profits driven or passion driven?”

The next problem that will surface after you have an idea of the distinct differences between a business owner, entrepreneur, social enterprise and charity is you have to ask yourself “which quadrant am I more skewed towards?”

It is important to know where you are now before you can get to where you want to be.

I always give this GPS analogy. One day, you tell the GPS “Hey GPS lady, I want to go to Orchard Road!” And then she asks you “so where are you now?” and your reply to her is “Oh I don’t know, somewhere in Singapore lor.” Or “I’m not sure”.

And there are two problems:

Firstly, there’s a thousand or million and one permutations and combinations for you to get to where you want to be, the destination. Next, there won’t be a clear distinct roadmap to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

In the same way, it’s very similar for entrepreneurship. You have to know where you are exactly; am I more excited doing what Sophee is doing – social enterprise, or am I more excited being a food blogger? Telling people where are all the good food, like Seth.

Where are you now? Are you more profit driven or passion driven? Are you systematic or are you all over the place? You have to know where you are before you can know where you want to get to.

And this is what I have to share with you on entrepreneurship. Before I end my session, is it ok if I share with you my story?

I’m definitely an entrepreneur, and how do I know this? This is because when I was eighteen years old, I started my first business selling children clothing. I was really excited, I prepared a proposal, about five to eight pages long, ran to my teacher from the entrepreneurship centre and I shared with her “you know I’m selling children clothes blah blah blah..”

But this meeting was really discouraging because within three to five minutes, my teacher thrashed me and asked me questions like “So Ranford, what is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? What is your competitor analysis? Where your SWOT analysis? How are you going to differentiate yourself from the rest?”

And at that point of time, my proposal was thrashed.

Needless to say, that was an utter failure, but thank God for my character, because I’m someone who has this “I will never take ‘no’ for an answer” kind of person. So I launched into my next venture which is the flea market. Back in 2008/2009, it was a very popular thing in Singapore. What I did was I collected second-hand items all around and I went to sell at flea markets.

That was a very successful venture because it was little to no startup cost. Usually for second-hand items, there were no cost involved and when I sold them at these platforms island wide, I managed to generate quite a good sum of capital. That was a very successful second venture.

The third venture I did was called the carton wallets. You know those milk cartons that we drink? My mum has this ability to make it into a wallet. So I thought “hey, that is quite nice!”

What I did was that I tested the market first. I went to my flea market platform, sold it for 1 for $3.90, 3 for $10. Surprisingly, the response was really good. I upped the price to 1 for $5.90 and 2 for $10.

Carton Wallets Image

Subsequently we did a lot of marketing. We placed our products to create more awareness at this thing called “toy outpost” – a rental locker unit with other eco products to create branding and more public awareness.

In 2011, we tied up with Century Square during their Eco-Buzz Carnival to teach the public how to make these carton wallets.

Eco-Buzz Carnival at Century Square

At the same time, teach women from low income families how to make these kinds of wallets so that they can sell and generate more income for their families. This third venture was also success.

Women from Whispering Hearts at Century Square

These are the workshops. The women from Whispering Hearts actually.

Workshop for Public at Century Square

And the workshop for the public.

Right now, my latest venture is that I’m the founder of Entrepreneurship Hub. What we do is that we help aspiring entrepreneurs and new startups, teach them how to use creative and unique sales and marketing strategies to kick start their venture.

I do a lot of sales training. The latest one I did was at SIM with thirty students.

Ranford Sales Training at SIM

Not only that, I do entrepreneurship training, this was the whole of last year.

Ranford Entrepreneurship Training

What I’ve just shared with you over the past ten minutes is just the tip of the iceberg on what I have written in my book called The Instant Entrepreneur.

The Instant Entrepreneur

This book will cover basically three things:

  • Why now is the best time to pursue your entrepreneur journey
  • Ten strategies that will transform you into an instant entrepreneur
  • Three key factors in order to be successful in starting any venture.

I’m running out of time so let’s connect on social media. You can add me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,.. I’m on Facebook Messenger 24/7. Today there’s a lot of you here so I can’t possibly take all the questions. Feel free to drop me a message and I’ll reply to you when I have the opportunity to.

For those of you who are really fast and are already in my social media, you can see that I’m no different from every single one of you here. I’ll like to use this to encourage you that if I can do it, so can each and every single one of you here.

I’ll like to end off my session with this quote, my favourite quote by Zig Ziglar and he says this “You can everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”.

And that’s the reason why I do what I do today, thank you.

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