Create The Right Ecosystem For Yourself
Having completed a Masters degree in Technopreneurship and Innovation, why did you choose a career in accountancy instead?
FC: My background was in accountancy, plus I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at that point of time. During my undergraduate years, the standard mindset we all had was to enter one of the Big Four firms. It was not until later that I realised this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Looking back, my three years spent at the accounting firm has also taught me lessons and trained me in ways that are useful even till this day – a quantitative background that has been very helpful when running my own business, and the hardworking and intense environment that has geared me for the rapid life of an entrepreneur.
What triggered your interest in entrepreneurship?
FC: During my time as a post-graduate student, a certain quote from my then-professor was particularly ingrained in me – “At the end of your runway, what do you want other people to remember you for?” His contagious energy and passion rubbed off on me, and it piqued my interest in this area. His stories and pieces of advice, as well as the Silicon Valley immersion trip during the programme, led me to realise that I wanted to be an entrepreneur – to be in this environment, to be in this life.
I guess this thinking stayed dormant in me for a while, before I realised that since I was still young and had limited liabilities, why not go for it?
It’s been 10 years now – that’s quite a feat! We’re sure the journey has been tough, but what is it that kept you going all this while?
FC: As an employee, even if you’ve reached the pinnacle, the company will still be ‘a company’, and not ‘your company’ – there is no actual sense of ownership. As an entrepreneur, part of the satisfaction comes from subsequently seeing something that you’ve built from ground zero.
The rest of the satisfaction then comes from helping people and having impacted their lives. As an entrepreneur, you are directly making a difference to others – you may only have changed three, four or five people’s lives, but at the very least, you’ve added some value to the world. This mindset breeds greater positivity, as compared to the negative thoughts that corporate employees often harbour.
You talk about the intense working environment of the corporate world. Isn’t it more intense and competitive for you now that you’re an entrepreneur?
FC: FC: The world is very different now as compared to years ago, and I feel that competition is not the way forward – creating the right ecosystems are. Many of the traditional companies in my industry see other companies as competitors, instead of collaborators in the same ecosystem.
By embracing the latter, it would create open learning and a better exchange of ideas, leading to greater innovation and value creation for society.
The world is very different now as compared to years ago, and I feel that competition is not the way forward – creating the right ecosystem is.
What is the most important trait that every successful entrepreneur should have?
FC: Grit. Having passion is one thing, to be driven to work towards your ideals and dreams – but when stuff hits the fan and issues such as finance and manpower start to arise, it is your grit that gets you through. The ability to get one’s hands dirty and simply get the job done is an often-overlooked trait that all entrepreneurs should possess.
In your own words, how would you define entrepreneurship?
FC: Entrepreneurship is about having the ability to find your way out of every problem. Have an impossible target to meet? Break it down into smaller, achievable milestones. Every problem is an opportunity – it is just a matter of perception.
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Kong Fern Chiang is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Four Media, an integrated marketing communications agency. He graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and went on to further his studies with a Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation in NTU.