Archive for July, 2010

The Bad Side of Business Plan Competition

Jul 08 2010 Published by under Life

I thought and wrote about this a while back – but only now had I got chance to finish and publish. Enjoy!

Business Plan competitions, if poorly executed, will dilute and change the perception of participants, mostly students, about running a successful startup.

I’ve seen by my own eyes 2 startups, won first and second prizes of a somewhat famous innovation award in Europe, collapse within 2 years.

Business plan competition, depending on how it is organized and tailored, may have very different impacts.
I was taking some entrepreneurship course a while back in which we were asked to write a full-flesh business plan. My team sent in our business plan to a famous national-level business plan competition. We were very excited to receive the feedback for the first few rounds. We brainstormed, made changes to the plan and submitted to the final round.
To our astounishing surprise, all the teams that are selected as finalist already have a company running!

Then what’s the point of that business plan competition? Why not just organize some VC-funding events?
And why do these companies apply for this competition? Free money.

You probably must have read a lot about what makes a startup successful. I am going to restate 1 of the most important factors: The team.
These business plan competitions, how could they examine the team factor. Judge through the individual CVs? That’s individual’s performance. The team’s working cohesiveness is something that only time could prove.

If we think along these lines, then i think a business plan competition is of little usefulness. The more useful things are incubation programs that seed funds small startups (like KTH innovation, NUS Incubator, YC or  NDRC Launchpad).

All these being said, it’s still good to participate in a business plan. You get to hear feedback from experts. You get to meet people that share the same dreams, and even better if you win, you’ll get some cash, maybe some funds to start your business.

Talking about winning competition. I also saw people who won some competition, and suddenly changed attitude over the night of competition – They think they are better (i.e. more talented) after winning the competition.

That doesn’t make any sense right? I mean, not like stock market, your intelligence/knowledge level can’t shoot over night, right? The only thing that changes is your own perception about your talent, being affected by external factors.

All and all, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re talented when getting some prize over night. And be aware of business plan competition.

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Why I am not Good at Writing

Jul 07 2010 Published by under Life

Since young, everyone says I’m not good at writing / literature. My thoughts are dry. I always got low mark for the subject Literature. I believed everyone, for 20 years, taking for granted that I don’t have that “literaturistic” gene.

Until recently, I found out that is not true.

All those years, when I didn’t know what to write, it’s not because my limited literatur-istic” gene, it is because I didn’t have anything in mind to write. Reason: No reflection. No thinking-back. No synthesis thoughts.

That is the real problem. A big problem for me. Lucky that I found out.

Let me clear the misconception:

  • If you are good at explaining, you should be good at writing.
  • If you don’t know what to write (which is mostly the case for me – when it comes to writing report, blogging, all thing related), you weren’t observant / aware / clear about what happened, period. Nothing to do with your writing ability.

Maybe I’m taking the “good at writing” here literally. I’ve alway thought that “good at writing” is the ability to come up with flourish and lengthy things to add to your piece of essay, which, recently found out, is BSing.

The reason I had this misconception could date back to the 60s, during the time my Mom went to school. Her Literature teacher graded the essays by its length, using a unit of the maximum distance between the thumb and the middle finger when stretching the palm out. During my time, me and friends were usually (usually, not only) discussing how good the essay is in term of how many pages it filled. Same mentality, just that technology advanced a little bit.

I think there is no reason for anyone to not be good at explaining, if they are damn clear about the thing being explained. Someone might be better than someone else at explaining, but no one should be bad at it.

Again, I only realized this problem a couple of months back. For all those years, I’ve been looking at the wrong problem, thus has no solution in solving them. It is real dangerous had I not spotted this problem out.

So look back and reexamine your problems, are they really the real problems?

tl,dr: I found out I’m not good at explaning/writing because I wasn’t being observant / synthesis thinking, not because I can’t do BSing. It is important to spot out the real problem.

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