Saturday, 18 October 2014

Who Do You Want to Be - Entrepreneur or Business Investor?

Last week, subsequent to a meet up with an ex-business competitor-turned entrepreneur, I wrote an article about "Who Has a Better Life – Entrepreneur or Salaried Staff?". One topic raised during our chat was the difference between Entrepreneur and Business Investor.  

The topic actually spins off while talking about my two ex-bosses who are successful and respectable figure in our industry. Just before the GFC, the two Bosses sold off the company for an estimated fortune exceeding S$100 million. 

One is an Entrepreneur (Let’s call him Boss A) who runs his company for more than thirty years. The other is a Business Investor (Let’s call him Boss B) who injected his funds at the right place and right time, ballooned the investment ten times within less than five years.  

Having worked for both bosses, I noted some of the differences as follow. Note that the views are purely case specific.

Gratification. Entrepreneur has longer delayed gratification. Business investor usually has a shorter investment horizon target.

Risk. Entrepreneur usually takes more risk (really have balls at times!), while business investor assumes smaller calculated risk.

Devotion. True Entrepreneur has his soul and mind entirely devoted to the business. Entrepreneur topics or dialogues are nothing but business, business and business! Investor talk about profits profits profits!

Rational. True Entrepreneur can be irrational at times. Before the GFC, the company I used to work for was at its peak (never before since founded). A very attractive buyout offer came but Boss A was not moved. This is despite his not so perfect health, not so young anymore and children are too young to take over the company. Moreover everyone know our industry is cyclic. Boss B was rational and insisted the sale instead of an IPO. Subsequently GFC came, and the industry crashed but they had already cash out. 

Management style. It is more difficult for the employee to know what exactly the Entrepreneur want. But very often it also brings the best out of the employee who will be so inspired. Frequent times, Entrepreneur has more emotions attached to staff who worked for him for a long time. The Business investor has a more corporate but reasonable management style - reward (or remove) according to performance.

Time. Entrepreneur worked non-stop, even crazier during the initial phase. Business investor normally has more time for hobbies and family. They have things they like to do, and spend more time to cultivate their kids.

About Boss A

Boss A pocketed a much larger share, but the sacrifices he made was over 30 years. I had seen how hard-working he was. Boss A is very emotionally linked to the company with mood swings according to the company's performance. But he is very kind-hearted and employees felt it. The stress of sustaining the business of close to 500 employees is enormous. Was told he was on verge of bankruptcy at least three times before the sale of the company. Debts are inclusive of personal mortgages. Boss A seldom have time for his family then. Success also attributes to a dedicated homemaker wife who managed the family well.

About Boss B

Boss B used to be a high position corporate salaried staff as well as passive investors of businesses, stocks and properties. After his corporate career, he invested and worked in the company Boss A founded. Boss B's few millions invested ten-folded within two years after the company was sold. A move that he initiated just before the GFC. Boss B was less emotional and more pragmatic in decision making and frankly a much better manager for the employees. But he is second in terms of charisma, the guts to take risks and lack the dreamer vision that Boss A had. He is also very kind-hearted but many at times people misunderstood his true good intention as only money driven. 

Rolf's View

Both bosses are mentors in my life who I am truly grateful of. They will always command utmost respect from me. 

This is just one story of an Entrepreneur Vs Business investor! There are many different versions around. 

Nevertheless it serves as a good reminder to me of the life experiences that both Bosses went through. 

Which Bosses do you want to be?


  1. Rolf,

    I am more a Business Investor in nature; and doing it now in practice ;)

    1. Hi SMOL,

      ....nd a speaker and educator, more importantly a Singapore Man of Leisure. It feels great to see Singaporean doing things they are passionate about and educating the public to think and broaden their mindset for free online.

      I just feel that we are slowly marching into a society of "ice cold water" where I do not care about you and you do not care about me, we only care about who is doing better than who.

      Its a pity, which instead we should help each other to improve. We are all Singaporeans!

    2. Rolf,

      Hold your horses now....

      I'm not there to educate or share anything. I'm not a bleeding heart.

      I'm just there to entertain myself.

      Eh? I think you got potential for politics!

    3. Hi SMOL,

      Ok ok.. I Got it..

      Btw, better to entertain yourself here than shower room. Haha LOL

      You mean potential for Office politics?


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