Ingredients For Leadership
The PEAK Singapore|November 2020
What does it take to be an effective leader? We turn the spotlight on four in different industries and quiz them with questions crowdsourced from The Peak’s community.
Farhan Shah

HUANG SHAO-NING Partner and chief angel, AngelCentral

FINDING PURPOSE

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS LOOKING TO SCALE?

It’s the same, whether you’re male or female. You need to have a good sense of what being a great founder is, so talk to other founders. And reflect on how you can be equally good, if not better. I think female founders have too many voices in our heads. We can never be 100 per cent certain, so take that leap of faith – even if you’re only 60 per cent sure. Commit to what you want to do, list the resources you need and make sure you look after the other aspects of your life as well.

When I started JobsFactory, I went in without thinking too much. In hindsight, I was fortunate that my family supported me. I had my first two children in the first five years of business, and my mum helped me to look after them. I wouldn’t have been able to manage if my family wasn’t there for me. When I think back, there were times when I felt I’d missed out on my children’s growth. But I don’t regret the choice because I know that if I had diminished the desire to run my business well, I would have been upset with myself later on.

WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART ABOUT SCALING A START-UP?

Knowing whether you have it in you. Confidence and conviction are key. You need optimism and you need the boldness to take risks.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR THOSE TRYING TO START A BUSINESS IN THIS PANDEMIC?

Firstly, business is always about resource planning. It’s about putting together a set of resources that will help you achieve a goal. Many say they have this great business idea and just need to find funding. Investors are not going to back that. They want to see a plan and evidence of its execution. Pandemic or not, that’s still the most important thing when starting a business. The only difference during this period is that Covid-19 could make it harder. Then you have to ask yourself, “Is this the right time and place and am I in the right position to be doing this?”

The second piece of advice is that founders need to find their key reason. People always say follow your passion, but it’s more important to be good at what you want to do. If you’ve been thinking about it for a long time, give it a try – but in a responsible way. Have a good financial plan and make sure your commitments are met because the first three to five years of your startup journey aren’t going to be easy.

WHAT IS YOUR LEADERSHIP MANTRA?

Be fair, be consistent and don’t play games. Leadership is not about popularity. You become a leader because you have something to give your team or have a dream or vision you want to realise. You must be able to inspire a group of people to go with you. If you’re not fair, no one is going to follow you and if you are inconsistent, they won’t know what to expect from you. Also, when you play games, it’s not fair to them. It goes back to the first quality of a leader: be fair. You're here to lead the team and help each person fulfil their dream.

JONATHAN SHEN Co-founder and CEO of The Golden Duck

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