Entrepreneurial journey is always one of a kind. It is not very far from the truth that it takes ideas, bravado and tons of conviction before one sets foot on this special journey. I am an entrepreneur myself and I would like to share my own personal story about my motivation and the adventure that follows. I hope that through this writing, readers will be able to rekindle the appreciation for entrepreneurial spirit and be inspired to be entrepreneurs and be enabled to contribute to the economy.
On my last year in graduate school, one big question dawned upon me: “What should I do next?” During my academic years, I have been fortunate enough to experience various leadership positions in organizations. The exposure of these experience nurture the spirit of entrepreneurism in me that want to build a brand of my own. However, I decided that the idea was too premature. First of all, I was a fresh graduate without any working experience and there was no guarantee future in being entrepreneurs compared to being a full time employee.
The Turning Point
Shortly after I began working as a consultant for Deloitte, my father called and told me that I should leave the United States and go back to Jambi for good to help him out with the family business. He was liquidating his current business and would like to open up new ventures thus he will need my help in managing the company from ground up. I was really excited with the prospect but at the same time I was sceptical. I spent the majority of my time overseas and although I bleed ‘Merah Putih’ as thick as any other Indonesian fellow, I was not sure that I would be able to adapt back to Indonesia, particularly the business environment in Indonesia which would be different from working in the US
My dad was very accommodating and he promised that he would mentor me as I slowly figure out how to do the trades. After a few lengthy discussions, I decided to leave the United States and went back to Indonesia to embark on a new adventure. One important advice that he gave to me was that “You should not be disillusioned by the notion of stability which comes from being employed. Your potential should not be dictated by the job scopes but by how much you wish to explore it. It is almost your duty to keep on learning, be it academic or otherwise.”
I arrived in Indonesia on 8 July 2013, an important milestone as it marked the beginning of a new chapter of my life. My family was very excited to see me back home I quickly settled down and my dad would, in his usual briskness, asked me to report to the office the very next day. He told me to explore Sumatra and Java for 6 months, visiting his business partners frequently to get a feel of Indonesian business culture. I have to admit these time was a steep learning curve but it helped a lot with my transition. When I look back now, it was a very rewarding experience and I am thankful for what he had done for me
Becoming An Entrepreneur
(prelude: the journey hasn’t been a smooth one, in my case it started from an unfortunate event that happened on 1st October 2013)
Then came the fateful calling. On 1st October 2013, I received a shocking news that my father passed away while he was on a business trip to Palembang. Everyone was saddened by his sudden departure, especially for me as I didn’t expect him to leave so soon in such an abrupt manner. As the eldest son of traditional Chinese family, I had to carry on with the family business and thus my entrepreneurial journey began. I have to admit that I was really lost at that time since my dad left,I had very limited network and there was no mentor to watch over me. It did not help either that Indonesian business regulations are notoriously transformative – closely tied with political agenda of the present ruling party. The idea of going back to the States was very appealing at that time because it was the easy way out.
After discussing with my family, I decided to open up a small construction business which mainly deals with privatized land projects in Jambi out of the morale burden that I had for my late father. Furthermore, I had convinced myself that this is a golden opportunity to realize my dream: to have a business under my own name. I swiftly decided to purchase new heavy machinery, set up integrated workshop and bid tenders for a long term project which I subsequently won instead of aiming for temporary high margin profit projects. I was criticized by countless people, many even questioned my business acumen. However, I believed in my reasoning that as new players, one should strive for sustainability and quality assurance.
What I want to leave you with
As an entrepreneur, I have learnt that managing cost and brand positioning are keys in surviving the harsh business world. I have also learnt the invaluable negotiating techniques and flair as well as the importance of good corporate governance, especially for legal system. As entrepreneurs, people are forced to be the master of every aspect of their businesses and that is exactly why the being an entrepreneur is very exhausting although at the same time, rewarding. I remember fondly that during my first year of running the company, I barely had 3 hours of sleep every day as I just had to keep learning, absorbing information like a sponge. However, in the process, I managed to hire reliable employees, founded the company culture and more importantly, contributed positively to the society.
After my construction company has been running pretty smoothly, I was intrigued to start a new venture, one which Jambi has not yet seen: a warehouse complex. Naturally, this idea had its fair share of disapproval from my family. I convinced them about the prospect of early movers and I would ensure that the business model is based on a thorough research on existing case studies. This experience taught me a lot about social skills, networking and the importance of comparative studies.
Currently, after 2 years of opening up my warehouse complex, I can say that I have managed to be the biggest warehouse player in Jambi area. All these would not be possible without the support from my immediate family. Being an entrepreneur taught me that business needs not to be a zero sum game. In order to have a sustainable business, one has to find the right partner, the right technical support and should always strive for a win-win situation with the clients. I believe that having reputation for excellence, sincerity and perseverance are key for a successful venture in all forms.
Being entrepreneur is not all rosy and painted success, it takes a leap of faith, patience and conviction for the business to grow. I believe that my story is but the beginning, there is so much room for improvements and there are still so many things I have yet to learn and master. However, I have not regretted my decision to become an entrepreneur. There still will be times when people doubt or discourage me, but a true entrepreneur does not shy away from challenges. We welcome challenges and we choose to be the trouble shooters by providing unique solutions to the market. This is the path that I chose because I want to leave my own mark. Are you ready to make your own path?
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