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Dean Anand Anandalingam

Why Singapore is an entrepreneur magnet

BY DEAN ANAND ANANDALINGAM

Why Singapore?

With its booming economy and unique business climate geared towards creating exceptional start-ups, Singapore is attracting more entrepreneurs to its business-friendly environment.

The local business ecosystem and support structures (including encouraging regulatory frameworks and numerous start-up incubators) make Singapore an excellent place for many entrepreneurs to build companies. Voted the number 1 place for ‘ease of doing business’ in the world in 2012 and 2013 by The World Bank, and as the gateway to South-East Asia with a population of five million people, it is no surprise that Singapore is the world’s fourth-leading financial centre.

What exactly is “entrepreneurship?”

Entrepreneurship is the art of setting up one or multiple businesses. It is a key part of the business world, requiring innovation, ambition and know-how. It’s a global phenomenon that has changed the way business works, making huge contributions to national economies and the ways in which innovation is disseminated through society.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset, being able to build businesses from scratch, and learning how to spot growth potential are all key skills of entrepreneurs. They bring new technology, jobs and wealth creation to communities, but they often undergo a steep learning curvein an effort to become successful.

Singapore has transformed itself from an economy driven by drive to one driven by knowledge and innovation over the last 20 years. This important transition has resulted from strategic investment by the government in science, technology and medicine, enabling it to overcome its size limitations to become Asia’s “innovation capital” and global research and development hub.

It has also improved Singapore’s position in the global value chain, which is a framework for the full range of activities required to bring a product or service from conception through the different phases of production and delivery to consumers.

Who does better - “Serial Entrepreneurs” Vs “Portfolio Entrepreneurs”

Portfolio entrepreneurs, those who own more than one business, seem to perform better than serial entrepreneurs, who buy and sell businesses one after the other.

Does experience make a difference?

Prior entrepreneurial success can bring both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are the development of skills at being an entrepreneur, including knowing more about what is needed to start a business as well as the ability to build more effective networks.

On the downside, it may lead to diminished motivation, blind spots, hubris and entrepreneurs thinking they already know enough and not adapting their approach to the circumstances of the new opportunity. Having created significant personal wealth, some experienced entrepreneurs may be unwilling to risk losing it.

As a result, they may exit the entrepreneurial process, or they may become more risk averse in subsequent ventures. Providing habitual entrepreneurs with financial incentives through changes in the tax regime may encourage them to reinvest profits, or funds realized from the sale of a business, into subsequent ventures with growth potential.

Are failed entrepreneurs more successful next time round?

The entrepreneurs who are more likely to learn from past failures are the ones who recognize an element of their responsibility for it, rather than laying the blame at the door of others. If the past failure is a one-off blip among a string of prior successes, the learning experience may be less traumatic and the entrepreneur may be less likely to learn from past mistakes.

Even so, having failed previously, entrepreneurs may be much more cautious and less innovative next time around.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Dean Anand Anandalingam

Dean Anand Anandalingam

G. “Anand” Anandalingam is the Dean of Imperial College Business School at Imperial College London. Previously he was Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business from 2008 to 2013. He was the Senior Associate Dean and occasional Acting Dean from 2007 to 2008. Imperial College Business School, with a focus on innovation, is ranked among the top-40 business schools in the world by the Financial Times and top-10 in Europe. Its faculty is ranked #2 in the UK in research productivity.

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