Get clients, then work on products, budding entrepreneurs advised

Design thinking expert Tom Kelley (left) launching the Tools, Tips and Thoughts for Entrepreneurs book with Karthik Siva.

KUALA LUMPUR: Budding entrepreneurs have been advised to find customers, determine their needs and then develop the required products instead of the usual practice of coming up with a product and then looking for customers.

“Find out what their needs and problems are and then find a way to solve them by developing the right product that meets their needs. Right now, most entrepreneurs are doing it the other way around i.e developing the product first,” said Karthik Siva, chairman of the Global Entrepreneur Xchange (GEX), a global platform that offers content, coaching classes and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs.

As part of its coaching service, GEX today organised its inaugural Face2Face with Innovators session with Tom Kelley, an expert on design thinking.

The event also saw the launch of Siva’s book on entrepreneurship entitled “Tools, Tips and Thoughts for Entrepreneurs”.

“You’ve got to be able to differentiate your offering to better position yourself and secure a market share. An entrepreneur should create a business model first before going into the actual business,” said Siva.

Most importantly, he said, entrepreneurs should be able to determine the viability of their product, taking into account the overall economic environment.

“For example, in an economy that’s not doing so well, there are businesses that can continue to flourish, such as alcohol, medical, kids or entertainment-related businesses. Therefore, it’s imperative that you pick the right category.

“For start-ups to succeed, they need to have the right skill and mindset. They must not fear failure as it should serve as an experiment that helps them move forward.”

Kelley too, in his talk, said entrepreneurs should view failures as part of the journey to success.

He cited the experience of British inventor James Dyson, who had to face a whopping 5,128 failures before he successfully invented the popular Dyson vacuum cleaner.

When there was a need to make big changes, Kelley said, the process should be broken down in small bits.

Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Yusof, in a keynote message, said the event was timely and in line with Malaysia’s effort to become an entrepreneurial nation.

“Innovation is the key that will ignite our engine of growth and GEX’s Face2Face with Innovators is an opportunity to make this agenda tangible,” he said.

Redzuan said in 2018, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) recorded a 38.3% contribution to the GDP, amounting to RM521.7 billion. The government is targeting to increase the contribution to 41% of the GDP this year and 50% in 2030.