By: Amos Tsay
In the last article, we looked at how one can find his/her element and why they should. One’s element is something he/she loves to do naturally and is good at, receiving positive feedback of others. As a continuation to this topic, I will focus on showing how one can not just flourish in today’s society but also flip the world once having figured out one’s element.
Finding your element is the process of knowing and equipping yourself so that you can create new ideas to flip the world. Some might feel that I am exaggerating when I say ‘flip the world’ however I will give some examples of micro-entrepreneurs with little start-up costs that drastically change industries with just an idea.
For instance, Transferwise, with only 35 employees, was able to threaten large, established, hundred-year-old banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs by charging only 1/10th of what the large banks charged per transaction. IBM lost thousands of jobs because China’s Too Easy (http://www.tooeasybuy.com/), the largest financial payment platform, stopped using IBM’s expensive servers. Also, Acer laid off thousands of employees due to the growing development of software application platforms, squeezing its hardware market. Please see graph:
The secret to becoming a successful micro-entrepreneur requires 3 main ingredients: a good idea, social media and mobility tools like cell phones. Money, manpower and materials should no longer be major issues for starting a business and opportunities are now wide open to anyone with the above ingredients.
Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, one of the hottest investors in Silicon Valley, says that when looking for entrepreneurs to invest in, he looks not only for intelligent ones but those have the following four characteristics: determination, flexibility, imagination and naughtiness. “There are plenty of smart people who get nowhere,” Graham said.
Instead he looks for determination. “Some people just get what they want in the world,” Graham said. “You can’t be passive and wishy washy.” For example Daniel EK, founder of Spotify (a major threat to iTunes) spent 3 years to solve patent-related problems. On flexibility, Graham says he asks entrepreneurs if they would consider a different related idea. If they say no, that is a bad indicator. Imagination is similar to flexibility, he says. “We say, ‘Have you tried this, or thought of that?’” Graham says. “Sometimes the answers are not only being able to grasp what we’re saying but they’re able to take it further.” He also looks for “naughty” entrepreneurs. “Startups often have to do dubious things,” Graham says. “You don’t want the kind of people who are obedient employees. You want people who understand and are willing to do stuff that’s stuck together by duct tape.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2011/05/24/what-y-combinators-paul-graham-looks-for-in-founders/)
Ten years ago, having a good idea meant how good you were at controlling the technical skills (more hardware means more investment) but in today’s world, it means having a great imagination and marketing sensitivity (more soft power). Good ideas that are well executed can help people save money or make money, get assurance from others of their own worth and delight customers in many ways. These ideas are now changing our daily lives and turning business models upside down. In today’s society, even with little or no money, if a great idea is present, anything is possible.
Amos Tsay is the president and founder of Superkids e-Tutoring Center with 30 years of experience in education. He is also a publisher of many math books, the inventor of the I.C.E learning method and the founder of FQAA (Foundation of Quebec Academic Achievement) – a non-profit organization. For more info, visit his company website at: superkidslearning.com