The Entrepreneur Who Loves Academia
“天时、地利、人和” – loosely translated as right time, right place, right people – This Chinese idiom aptly sums up Shen Guoping’s thoughts on entrepreneurship.
As an angel investor, startup business strategy consultant, and soon-to-be e-commerce founder, Guoping is no newcomer to the entrepreneurship landscape in Asia.
After graduating from university, Guoping first worked as a teacher at Jiangsu Wujiang Secondary Specialised School in Jiangsu province, China.
“It was a stable job that paid well. Plus, the work was really satisfying and I felt very accomplished then,” he said. “Not many people would want to give this up for something (like entrepreneurship) that is perceived to be high-risk and unknown.”
“Yet, this is also one of the most toxic mindsets and biggest misconceptions that people have – that entrepreneurship equals risk-taking.”
Taking the first step
In his eyes, entrepreneurs do not take risks. Rather, entrepreneurs need to minimise taking unnecessary risks through precise calculations, sleepless nights and contingency plans.
“The biggest mistake an entrepreneur can commit is to take whatever he is doing as a gamble.”
But to him, this does not necessarily mean that entrepreneurs have to make excessively careful considerations before moving forward with their passion. Apart from basic requirements, spending too much time planning for worst-case scenarios will only let opportunities slip through our fingers.
“Before I took the leap, I had the basic conditions met – there was demand for my product, supply was low, I had sufficient finances to fall back on and I had also garnered enough confidence,” Guoping explained. “Most importantly, my wife was also very supportive of my ideas emotionally and financially.”
Money as a motivator
On the topic of motivation, he too shared with us another common misconception that many people have of entrepreneurs.
“Many people feel that most entrepreneurs do what they do because they want to earn big money. Personally, I feel that this is a wrong and very dangerous mindset,” he said. “The value you bring to the society should always be at the core of what you do. By helping people solve their problems, the money will come naturally, alongside more important things such as respect and recognition.”
Entrepreneurs and education
Guoping shared with us how education has shaped him into the entrepreneur he is today. “Back in my times, not many people were able to be enrolled into university. Entrepreneurship was seen as an alternative route – a route for people who weren’t able to pursue further education,” said Guoping.
However, he points out the shifting mindsets of today’s generation – that education and knowledge is becoming a cornerstone of entrepreneurship.
Guoping later went on to further his studies with the Master of Science Technopreneurship and Innovation Programme.
“I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship and innovation since young, and took up many of such modules in my university days,” said Guoping. At that time, he was an undergraduate with a major in Physics. He laughs as he recalled even going as far as sneaking into other universities to attend more of such lectures because he ‘couldn’t get enough’ of these classes.
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Guoping graduated with a Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and is the Co-Founder of SunLord E-commerce Co Ltd.