Entrepreneurs – Taught or Born?


The age-old debate of entrepreneurs being taught or born have left many puzzled, and the question unanswered. But for alumnus Mr David Tay (BBA Hons 2008), it is clear that entrepreneurs are neither taught nor born. Read on to find out why.

With the government’s call for young and aspiring businessmen to be entrepreneurs, a significant question is raised – can entrepreneurship be taught?

To alumnus Mr David Tay (BBA Hons 2008), the education is not a deciding factor.

“While the knowledge acquired in business school will help in understanding business models, finance and management concepts, it does not necessary mean that you will become a successful and effective entrepreneur.”

Mr Tay started Venture Creations, a design company, in 2004 when he was just in his first year of university education. In his second year of study, Mr Tay started WaffleShop in Prince George’s Park within NUS, which became a hit with the students. At its peak, WaffleShop was fully managed and run by 25 NUS students from six faculties and nine nationalities.

Neither born, nor taught

When asked if he believes if entrepreneurs are taught or born, Mr Tay says he believes neither.

Mr Tay believes that the impetus behind entrepreneurs consists of two very primary and imperative factors: faith and passion.

“The most important thing is to have faith to take the first step, no matter how small it may be.”

Using himself as an example, Mr Tay says that it was genuine passion and interest for the business that gave him the strength and energy to manage two businesses while still in school.

Business courses are not pre-requisites to the world of entrepreneurship; however, the training does give aspiring business owners a head start.

It would be an advantage to have deeper knowledge of finance, management and marketing concepts. Such theory-based lessons will go a long way in helping the entrepreneur in practical problems such as branding, marketing and staff management.

However, in order to be a successful entrepreneur, one needs more than just that.

“During the initial phase of a company, immense amount of effort is required, and one can only find the strength and energy to do it if one has the innate love for the nature of the business,” says Mr Tay.

He also believes that if there is a genuine interest and passion in the business, one will naturally have a competitive edge and thus a higher chance of outperforming other market competitors.

Have Faith and Courage

“Be adventurous and take calculated risks,” Mr Tay advises.

He says that he had encountered many people with passionate ideas only to put them off because they do not have faith in themselves.

Mr Tay feels that young and aspiring entrepreneurs should not be discouraged by their lack of experience; instead they should make use of their youth and freedom.

“Start small,” he advises. “If you start something small, you lower your risk, but you will still be able to acquire useful experience that will go a long way when you decide to expand.”

Mr David Tay (BBA Hons 2008) set up his first company Venture Creations in 2004, when he was just a freshman in university. In his second year, he started WaffleShop, an ice-cream and waffle kiosk at Prince George’s Park, NUS. Since graduation, Mr Tay has been a full time teacher with the Ministry of Education and is the advisor of the NTUC Club Youth Entrepreneurship Community. He will be inducted into the Singapore Teachers’ Union where he will act as a Young NTUC Spokesperson for promoting Business and Entrepreneurship among youths.

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