More and more Malaysians - especially the younger generation - are turning entrepreneurial in their bid for financial freedom. Four young Malaysians who have made it big in vastly different industries share with TAN CHOE CHOE the key to their success.
The number of new businesses registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia went up by 16 per cent - from 268,866 in 2008 to a substantial 312, 581 last year, despite a contraction in the economy.
One of the most oft-quoted reasons for an increase in the number of entrepreneurs is the success stories of others.
"There are legends like Tan Sri Robert Kuok, Datuk Tony Fernandes and others locally. Abroad, there is Microsoft's Bill Gates. In China, there are many youths turning millionaires and billionaires too. They are a source of inspiration for others," said the president of the Small Medium Industries Association of Malaysia, Chua Tiam Wee.
"The spate of financial crises in recent years, particularly the last one which left a trail of retrenchments, has also prompted many to feel that being an employee is no longer the safest or best career option. Naturally, people start to think: why not be your own boss and master of your own destiny?" adds Chua.
The prospect of working in a conventional nine-to-five job is no longer deemed "cool".
"Waking up early to go to work is no longer appealing. Our youngsters want flexibility. They want to innovate and create."
But while there are many inspiring success stories, there are also as many stories of failed ventures.
"Anyone who decides to go into business must realise that entrepreneurship is actually a 'profession' where you will be wearing many hats. You need to be skilled not only in managing the marketing side of the business but also the finances. You have to know what to do and what you can do before you decide to go into business," says Carol Yip, a personal financial coach and author of two books on financial planning - 'Money Rules' and 'Smart Money-User'.
"Be alert and aware of what's going on around the world. Even something simple, if done well, can turn into a mega business," adds Yip.