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The writer speaking at the Start-up Weekend Food KL.
The writer speaking at the Start-up Weekend Food KL.

Last weekend, I was really honoured to be invited as the opening guest speaker, to kick-off Start-up Weekend Food KL, organised by Techstars, and supported by Startup Malaysia.

I must thank my friend and founder of Startup Malaysia, Dash Dhakshinamoorthy, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor for inviting me for this event. I had this opportunity because of him, and another friend, Oliver Capehorn, the co-founder of Pona, a marketplace for home-cooked food, who is also an internationally renowned stand-up comedian.

It was a 54-hour event where groups of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and those associated with the food industry, pitched new ideas.

The weekend was certainly inspirational. The youngest participant was an 18-year old, and the oldest was 71 years old. And, these potential entrepreneurs had travelled from all over Malaysia, and even Singapore to workshop and present their ideas.

The programme started on Friday evening with my opening session.

Participants then presented their ideas, and had to convince new team mates to join their cause. This led to the development of cross-functional teams that had to work together over the weekend.

The budding entrepreneurs then spent Saturday and most of Sunday with expert coaches and mentors, learning how to master the basics of product management; presenting and selling their vision to real investors; and received feedback from industry experts on their concepts.

Finally, at the pinnacle of the event on Sunday evening, the teams pitched their start-ups ideas to top food and beverage entrepreneurs, and investors from the region.

Of the teams that participated, the top spot went to the entrepreneurs who pitched the idea of giving surplus food from hotel buffet outlets, a second chance.

Aside from mentorships and recognition from the experts there, the top three teams were offered a chance to compete on the world stage, at the Thought For Food Challenge, a leading global food & agricultural technology event in March 2020.

The team that came first also won themselves an opportunity to co-work with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), to take their concept further.

It is an incredible opportunity for them to work with MaGIC, an agency under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development that was established to realise Malaysia’s 2030 National Entrepreneurship Policy.

Being part of this unique event, no pun intended, gave me much food for thought!

The people I met at this programme had an innate entrepreneurial attitude. I mean, it must take a particular outlook for the oldest participant, at the grand age of 71, to sit through a raucous and tough weekend, with largely a bunch of excitable millennials.

I reckon the entrepreneurial approach requires a certain way of thinking. it is about how you look at ideas, and how you deal with challenges and mistakes.

You must have an inherent need to improve your skills and to want to keep trying.

In my world of management consulting, training and leadership coaching, I have noticed that successful people have a particular drive that gives them the ability to soldier on, and to propel themselves forward, in the face of obstacles and adversity.

The daily grind of work, and having to make things work, can sometimes dampen your drive factor.

But if you construct and develop an entrepreneurial mindset in your career, and when dealing with the rigmarole of life, you can meet challenges, and experience exponential growth.

Here are the ideas that I believe that will help you cultivate this approach.

Thinking like an entrepreneur involves an unstinting commitment to a very narrow vision. This drive allows entrepreneurs to plough through with whatever necessary actions to accomplish their vision.

In common parlance, it means that you must be totally commitment to your purpose.

It is vital to make an effort to set aside time every single day to focus on your vision and goals. You must bring your vision to the forefront of all your thought processes.

And the next most important thing, is to give yourself permission to be challenged.

As an entrepreneur, I can tell you that new challenges come, almost every single day. I have learnt to deal with them by recognising that just because obstacles will appear all the time, it doesn’t mean I have to be afraid of making mistakes.

Having cultivated an entrepreneurial mindset, I can embrace challenges, and at times, I actually actively seek them out.

Can you imagine if you went about your career with such boldness? It comes down to a simple and uncomplicated belief structure in your mind.

Remember that the more you put yourself into uncharted territory, the more you will develop the skills to handle those very tests. And, as you overcome them, you will also grow in the confidence of knowing that you were able to surmount what once seemed impossible.

So, challenge yourself every day, and don’t be so afraid of making mistakes. Failure is but an opportunity for growth. You must extract all of the value from these lessons.

Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset?

Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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