Entrepreneurs must dare to dream big

Posted on  13/07/2011  |  Media Centre

Ying Chia
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BUSINESSES in Brunei need to dream a little bigger if they are truly serious about moving out of the limited local market in the Sultanate, said Muhamad Azam Abdul Jalil (pictured), director and principal consultant at ACTion Advisory services from Singapore, at the conclusion of Asia Inc’s local business development workshop series yesterday afternoon.

“In fact, all three workshops build up towards the kind of capabilities you will need in order to reinforce (your) business,” said Muhamad Azam about the objectives of the three-session workshop titled “Building your Business to the Next Level” organised by Asia Inc Forum. One of the major factors emphasised yesterday, he added, was about focusing on the need for innovation, as well as looking at the planning and financial modeling aspects of running a business.

Also important, he said, was how one engage people, or employees, “to move with the business to help grow the company”. Although he admitted that he was not terribly familiar with the local business environment, he said,”After three sessions, I think I’m getting the hang of it.” Asked of his key observations of the local market, Muhamad Azam said that what struck him most was local entrepreneurs’ “aversion to grow(ing) overseas”.

“They keep on saying there’s only four (hundred) thousand people in Brunei and this is all we have, but at the end of the last session, a number of them came out with models to grow overseas and I asked them ‘Are you sure you can do this?’ and they answered ‘Why not?’,” he said.

“We shared some models with them of neighborhood shops that have grown to have 200 outlets in the region and worldwide, so I was actually talking to some of them over lunch and they acknowledged that this aversion is one of the things that holds them back because they never dared to dream out and they’ve been comfortable,” he explained.

“I guess the aim of these three workshops is to help them to think of what else they should do, how they should build up capabilities, and gain readiness for going overseas,” he added.

Some key strategies that local entrepreneurs in the country could adopt, said Muhamad Azam, are firstly, to dream bigger and believe that they can make it. “First, they have to dream a bit bigger; that may seem petty, but it has been reinforced so many times, that if you think you are that size, or you can only grow up to that size, then that’s it,” he said, noting that the workshop seems to have had some effect with a number of companies now gaining courage and presenting possible plans or strategies to move into the international market.

By working through strategy maps, attendees are able to see the differences in the visions for the capabilities that they need to build, he added.

Asked if these companies had the potential to make it overseas, he said, “They have to take small steps at a time, but since the first session, four companies have good potential but it won’t happen overnight, in terms of steps.”

He emphasised that first, these entrepreneurs must believe “in their minds” that they can do it.

In fact, two participants have demonstrated their potential to venture overseas, he said, adding their strategy maps attest to this. They have also redrawn value propositions and capabilities, he added.

If they intend to pursue building a franchise overseas, said Muhamad Azam, “they need to move beyond their current offerings and find an intellectual property that can be called their own and something that’s franchiseable”. However, to build these new competencies will take money and time, he added.

During the workshop, attendees from a number of industries were given the opportunity to have a sharing and mentoring session with invited guest, YB Hj Ahmad Morshidi POKDSDDLU Hj Abd Rahman, Managing Director, Ideal Multifeed Farm (Brunei) Sdn Bhd, on his challenges in running a long-term sustainable business in Brunei.

The Brunei Times

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