Monday, March 15, 2010

The Aging Malaysian Entrepreneur Wannabe

I should be 30 this year, an age where I should be married with 2 or 3 children running around. I should be a hardworking management level employee of a tech company; leaving my programmer traits behind as it is after all a low level tech job for young people. I didn’t comply to the should be, due to many reasons which is due to passion, believe, coincidence and luck.

Basically I like programming because this skill allows me to turn many ideas into execution, which is very exciting and harbor many opportunities. Currently, I use my skills to work on freelance and turnkey projects in order to make a living, but it kind of getting boring, tedious and not so "stimulating". Basically, creating applications to solve daily business problem isn’t very exciting; but it’s a more “stable” means to generate income. Many years ago I thought of implementing the business model of a typical software product company, where I create a useful business application which I have domain knowledge in, and resell the product many times. The main reason I didn’t do it because I don’t have a strong sales channel to sell more than 10 copies of the same software. And nowadays, maintaining a piece of product for a bunch of clientele seems “no so interesting” 10 years down the road, though I could make a good living if I could make it.

What would I prefer to do? Once in a while, I would come up with some ideas and try to get it to kick start through self funding. I tried self-funded and do-it-alone style, which I get more satisfaction than freelancing on turnkey projects. I manage to get some small success with a small steady income streams, and the implementation is getting more interesting by the day (I get to try out new ideas and enhancements). The thing being a lone ranger is that I must be very careful in picking the domain I am working on, as I must ensure that I have the capacity to implement it, and a property strategy to beat my competitors. So I restricted the ideas which I can work on. And working alone means there isn't anyone to challenge me, and perform a check and balance with me. I could be right, it could be better or I could be a total sucker, and I just wouldn't know.

The problem arises when I wanted to work on a bigger idea, which requires more people and money. I had tried to secure funding before by applying through Cradle and MOSTI, but no luck (perhaps I am no good at this). Another challenge is about setting up a good team, which is even more difficult for my case. For example, Cradle would like to see a more diversified team rather than a bunch of techies, and I have a big headache securing people from different background such as sales, marketing, business development, management, etc.

The other main obstacle is age. It’s not that I am too old to do it (financial burdens had yet to land on me yet), but there are less people around me who are interested. There are very little people who have interest in entrepreneurship, and they even less who are willing to take some risk to work on the idea (basically, there isn't perceived risk in employment). Nowadays, most people don’t even have time (or not willing to spend time) even on part time basis to work on it. I know of 2 pretty talented people but both of them have their own issues and attitude crisis: one think that he is always right, and the other just want to have fun with his work and disregards others and other things. And a few just gone into "retirement" from the business of entrepreneuring.

I have both people and money crisis. All these could be due to the fact that I am not really a social person, as I am shy with networking and lazy to entertain customer beyond basic requirement. As such, my social circle is smaller and I didn’t find opportunities to mingle with people with the same passion as I am: a Technopreneur wannabe. I should really get out more often rather than trying to churn out miracle in front of the computer. I need to find the right people to build my team and get the proper funding and support.

Finally, do I have what it takes to make it? I believe I do, and I am working on the right ideas, just that I haven’t really proven myself to the world. No matter what, I have to safeguard this sacred confidence no matter what others think (it sounds weird, but I need that to keep moving). But I have one problem, that I am not used to playing it BIG. I work alone most of the time, and I am too lazy to manage a whole company (the most I am willing to do is to manage a team). Thus, I need someone to run the company for me, while I work on the product and idea. I just hate accounting and visiting government offices to get the paper work done, or pay bills, salary and etc. I need to find someone who likes to do what I dislike to do, and he should do it better than I could.

Yes, I am aging and time is against me. And with this sudden spark of idea coming up this year, I will be taking a plunge and investing more time and money to make it work. At the same time, I should meet some people to get a feel of the real world out there; to make sure I am not hallucinating.

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