“The New Norm of an Entrepreneur” Webinar

In the spirit of Sunway’s Friendship Month, Student Leadership & Engagement celebrated Youth Empowerment through a series of talks, friendship appreciation stories, games, and online bonding activities to make new friends. 

The Student Life Department of Sunway College and Sunway University organised their first talk in conjunction with Friendship Month, “The New Norm of an Entrepreneur” Webinar, on Friday, 20th August 2021, from 7-8pm, through Zoom and FB Live on Sunway University Clubs & Societies. The talk was delivered by Mr Aaron Siow and featured special guest Mr Adrian Seow. 

One partner for this webinar was Malaysian Youth Community (MYC!), Malaysia’s “first and largest inter-university youth community”, which caters to over 160 universities nationwide. The site conducts profile matching with scholarships, internships, and sponsorships, as well as with interesting programs in which MYC! members have the opportunity to meet the CEOs of various companies. MYC!’s founder and CEO, Mr Jason Ko, who also happens to be an alumnus of Sunway, first gave an introduction to the platform and advocated that, as per their tagline, “We Do Everything For Students… Except Study!” Among the event sponsors, AirAsia and CooperVision held exclusive giveaways for Sunway University students to win exciting vouchers worth RM50, RM100 from Shoppe, and a year’s worth of daily disposable contact lenses. 

Subsequently, Mr Aron Siow, Group Vice President of IQI Global and Founder of IQI Elite, spoke of his experiences and the new norm of an entrepreneur in this digital age. Mr Siow’s professional endeavours from a real estate salesperson to an entrepreneur have  been well met, with many accolades under his belt, such as The Most Influential Young Entrepreneur 2017, IQI Global Excellence Award 2018, and Outstanding Leadership Award 2019. 

He described entrepreneurship as a journey in which one can attain successes, fulfilment, and glamour, but one will also need to endure and overcome ever present challenges and persist despite failures. Mr Siow said he now embraces challenges by viewing them as opportunities to explore and anticipates challenges as a chance to get ahead of them. One can also expect to make a shift from being focused on a single job to having to multitask and juggle different roles. At one point earlier in his career, Mr Siow himself did not foresee himself only selling property for the next 5-10 years; instead, he wanted to allow himself to expand and drive further change in this industry that he was still very passionate about. As a result, he and his team, together with partners and frontline leaders, developed a comprehensive real estate training syllabus and programme that would help shape learners into a top salesperson. The key to moving towards entrepreneurship begins with oneself, as one can decide whether to take the path of change and adopt the right mindset. 

Entrepreneurs are important to society because they improve standards of living. Thus, it is important for all budding entrepreneurs to recognise and understand a problem in society and innovate a solution for it, which will give rise to their corporate mission and value that they can provide to others. For instance, Grab continues to solve various problems for society in the world today, through mobile wallets, transportation, and food delivery, particularly during lockdowns. Similarly, Mr Siow identified that there was a lack of schooling on how to sell property and wanted to change people’s lives by imparting this knowledge through his company and, in turn, improve the lives of real estate agents. As one approaches a communal problem, one will come to realise that the problem can best be solved with a team. Together, one must build a team that sees eye-to-eye on a shared mission and vision, bringing about a meaningful company. 

One must remember that the market changes constantly. Hence, the current formula for something may not be effective in the next few decades and one needs to react or else get left behind. 2015 and 2016 marked a major turning point for Mr Siow after the existence of sponsored advertisements on Facebook inspired him to leverage on the power of digital technologies and digital marketing, and lead a team towards this new direction. Striving to provide opportunities for change and improve career development in digital realtors, his team grew from under 10 members to more than 6000 today.

Just as nobody could have planned for the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses had to halt but many businesses that leveraged online on different platforms were able to sustain and even thrive without borders. While more and more people began to consume digital content, more and more began to create content for them to consume. As such, Mr Siow believes in putting oneself out there on social media in a creative way. This may mean leaving one’s comfort zone and putting oneself in one’s “growth zone”. 

Mr Siow explained that he practiced expanding his comfort zone when he had to begin holding FB lives during lockdown. At first alien to the format, he committed himself to doing FB lives every week and increasingly grew more prepared and comfortable. Mr Siow explained with a diagram that by expanding one’s comfort zone, one can push their abilities to align with and meet their goals. 

Naturally, when one begins to actively step out of their comfort zone to pursue a particular goal, there comes the question of whether desirable results are within reach. Mr Siow specified that in order to ensure guaranteed success, one’s mindset is key: know why you are doing what you are doing. He also underlined that this ‘purpose’ shouldn’t revolve around something as capricious as simply having fun, because chances are, embarking on a journey like this will be challenging and not very enjoyable at times. It is single-mindedness upon the ‘why’ behind one’s actions that will be the vigour to push one forward in the eye of adversity.

Building on this, Mr Siow elaborated that while intentions may be the wind behind your sails but without direction or a proper strategy, one would aimlessly put in effort without knowing how it would be geared towards the goals to be achieved. Developing a plan and equipping oneself with skills as well as knowledge in the area of interest will help realise goals and set them in motion. In addition to this, one must accompany these strategies and mindsets with action. Ultimately, plans can be made and ideas may be sparked but without acting on these strategies, nothing can be achieved.

Diving into the very title of this webinar itself, Mr Siow explained that it is actually antithetical to think there is a supposed ‘new norm’ for entrepreneurs. It is his belief that entrepreneurship is centered upon challenging the status quo and coming up with fresh ideas to solve everyday problems. As an entrepreneur, every venture one pursues should be considered a ‘new norm’. These people seek out unconventional ways to address consumer needs and demands, which then become the ‘new norm’ of business. Take for instance the way news has transitioned from simply existing on ink and paper to an array of digital platforms. People no longer depend on physical newspapers to stay informed on world issues because most social media platforms and websites already cater to this demand. They have also proven to be much more convenient and efficient in doing so. The same can be said for online shopping websites, food delivery applications, and even websites that provide e-hailing services for taxis. Mr Siow pointed out that entrepreneurs create their own ‘new norms’ by foreseeing problems and developing solutions that both conveniently and efficiently satisfy consumer preferences. Mr Siow also stressed that the first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to be the leader one desires. It is important that as a leader, one should stay genuine and true to their values. People respect a leader who reflects their own values within their life before imposing these values on others. 

Conclusively, he outlined the five major steps to succeeding in entrepreneurship beginning with being rooted in  good education. He also believes that every successful venture should provide value to consumers by solving their everyday problems rather than merely chasing profit. A successful entrepreneur is also one that is passionate in what they do. Mr Siow emphasized that without passion it would be easy to give up when the going gets tough. One should also utilize the concept of having a fixed mindset, proper strategy and apply action towards realising the ultimate goal. Without one or the other, it is impossible to ensure desirable results. Finally, one should also maximise their social media presence to garner an audience for their brand.

The final speaker for this webinar, Mr Adrian Seow, Head of Team for IQI Realty, expanded on the final point of Mr Siow’s initial presentation. Years ago, the Penang-born Marketing Coach never thought he would venture into business and fancy the idea of becoming a real estate agent. However, after majoring in electrical and computer engineering in the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and working as an intel electrical engineer for two years, he decided to delve into real estate agency. Throughout his six years of working with IQI Realty Elite Group, Mr Seow has earned a slew of awards for his work. Now, as a Marketing Coach, Mr Seow has been posting Facebook lives from 2016 though it was only in 2019 that he began taking personal branding seriously. Currently, he has amassed a following on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and the latest: TikTok.

Mr Seow believes that in this day and age, social media profiles act as the modern day business card for entrepreneurs. It is through proper leveraging of these profiles that one can build an audience for a product. He outlined that the five key steps in marketing a product is ensuring people identify the offered product, know of the marketed brand, develop a preference for the product, trust the brand and finally, remember it. 

He then introduced an internet marketing sales funnel outlining how advertisements work to rope prospective clients into purchasing the product. He explained that an entrepreneur could collect a database by providing consumers with insights and details on the product itself instead of merely asking people if they would be interested in purchasing the product. From this, one can filter out potential clients by asking the initial audience for their contact details and if they would be interested to learn more about the product. Highly interested clients could be given more incentive to purchase the product by inviting them to watch videos to further inform them on the product. Ultimately, these clients would have been convinced to purchase the product after this process. Mr Seow proposed that these steps should be practiced on one’s social media profile to build an online presence.

Finally, Mr Seow admitted that while marketing strategies are actually short-term schemes, they are still necessary in setting long-term plans in motion. Marketing proves to be a stepping stone to setting up a successful business venture as it secures a loyal group of consumers for a brand or product. Establishing ones’ brand on a social media platform is a strategic way to garner an audience for a specific product. 

At the end of Mr Seow’s presentation there was a time for members of the audience to put out their questions to both Mr Siow and Mr Seow. People asked questions like what it takes to be a great leader, to which Mr Seow answered that a great leader must be ready to make difficult sacrifices in order to achieve success. As an entrepreneur, one must invest time and energy to train their employees so that they produce qualitative results. Trust is also crucial in a team setting as employees must be able to trust that the leader knows what is best for their team. When asked about the ideal culture a business should have, Mr Siow answered that a leader should set an exemplary system and routine for his team to follow. 

Another person asked how one should start putting up videos on their social media platform to attract an audience for their product. Mr Seow answered that the key way to attract people’s attention is to speak about how this product could attempt to solve their current problems. Viewers would feel heard and be able to relate to such content, thus establishing a connection with them. 

Overall, this session proved to be fruitful in informing the youth about substantive steps to take when pursuing a career in business and entrepreneurship. Conclusively, it is the hope of both speakers that valuable advice was shared during this session and students would be able to apply such knowledge in their own fields of interest.

Written by: Michelle & Hannah

Edited by: Jamie

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