Five reasons why now is the time to be an entrepreneur

Amanda Gome Publisher, BRW and Smart Investor

Five reasons why now is the time to be an entrepreneur

Published 27 November 2013 12:01, Updated 27 November 2013 12:58

Amanda Gome says most of us will be entrepreneurs at some stage in our working lives. 

It’s a big claim, but here it is: there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. I came to this conclusion after reflecting on more than two decades of interviewing entrepreneurs, writing about their conditions, being an entrepreneur myself and researching how companies grow as an adjunct professor at RMIT. And it’s just as well it’s easier, because most of us will be entrepreneurs at some stage in our working lives.

As futurist Colin Benjamin says, just as people accepted the notion they would have three or four careers in their lifetime, many of us must now be entrepreneurial, creating a new business every three to five years or working on multiple things in parallel, as consultant, salaried employee and business builder. It’s become essential as the pace at which we move in and out of jobs and careers speeds up.

Twenty years ago, entrepreneurship used to be something a few people did for a while before moving on, sometimes to jail. Remember Alan Bond? He defined entrepreneurship for a whole generation. Entrepreneurs were always males, mostly white and usually eccentric; think the Biggles-like Dick Smith, the bullying, blustering Kerry Packer or the ambitious Rupert Murdoch, who was prepared to blow up the entire banking system to finance a growth plan.

The expression “serial entrepreneur” didn’t exist. And you certainly never introduced yourself as an entrepreneur at an Australian barbecue if you wanted a beer. Entrepreneurship is now a way of life.

Changing trends

Fortunately, the tectonic shifts that have upended the way we work have also made it easier to work for ourselves. Here’s a rundown of changing trends in work and life:

■ Society’s attitude to entrepreneurship has U-turned from the 1980s, when people who were unemployable became entrepreneurs. Even before Google and Twitter, entrepreneurship was cool. When I left corporate Australia and a cushy salary to start a media business, I braced myself for a barrage of criticism. Instead, people were overwhelmingly supportive, generously offering assistance and slightly envious. Totally unexpected. When I returned to big business last year, a friend told me: “No one thinks this is a good idea except you.” Other friends were more polite. “What’s next?” they would say when I talked about my job. That was equally unexpected. The different attitude towards entrepreneurs means working in an entrepreneurial firm that is growing fast is a very attractive alternative to the top end of town.

■ There is now more security in working for yourself than in most large corporations, many of which are suffering from job insecurity, cost-cutting and flat management structures that kill career progression. Working in a large company can be limiting, as an employee who specialised in one core function for many years often repeats their early success and fails to change.

■ It’s easier getting funding for a scalable start-up. Twenty years ago, angel finance and venture capital did not exist. In 1995, when BRW did a cover on angel capital and a newly launched angel service, we had to put extra staff on the switchboard to handle the calls. Now, there is a growing band of successful entrepreneurs reinvesting in start-ups. There is a slew of support services set up by successful entrepreneurs and large companies interested in taking equity stakes. Australia always had a band of wealthy Australians who wanted to add entrepreneurial businesses to their portfolio but now that band is expanding. Add to that the baby boomers who decide to back themselves, hire others and create jobs rather than retire into insignificance.

■ It is easier and cheaper to set up a new venture. Nearly everything is cheaper, easier and faster. You can buy software as a service instead of as a product, receiving updates as they are launched. You can have great customer relationship management (CRM) systems that link to back-end systems. You can store data in a cloud and quickly share it in with colleagues, wherever they are. Best of all, many products and services, including accounting packages, are now created for the business builder at affordable prices instead of just for large corporations.

■ The profile of the typical entrepreneur has been turned on its head. The alpha white male in his mid-40s that typified the entrepreneur of 20 years ago has been joined by women, university students and mature workers. Half the businesses started these days are by people over 50 years old. This diversification creates a more innovative sector.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: