BEING ONE’S OWN BOSS
Despite high startup failure rates, entrepreneurship is nonetheless fast gaining popularity in Shanghai, with a growing number of youths eager to start their own businesses even before they graduate from university
Startups around the world are notorious for having high failure rates. For Zhou Dichen, who gave up the dream of setting up his own company in 2015, failure was down to what he said was misguided ambition.
“The intention behind my startup ambition was not pure — I just wanted to win an entrepreneurship competition. As a result, many problems emerged and destroyed our campaign when it was still in the starting stages,” said Zhou, a Tongji University undergraduate.
Yu Hai, a professor of sociology at Fudan University, offered a sobering piece of advice for aspiring student entrepreneurs.
“Starting a business is an extremely difficulty thing which requires experience and skills. Only a very small number of people have the required qualities,” said Yu, whose own son had quit his job to become a startup founder.
“What college students learn in school is far from enough to enable them to run a business. They need time to build their social network and capabilities. I don’t encourage every student to go about starting their own businesses. They should work and learn from others first.”
According to Lu, support from professional business incubators is vital to entrepreneurs who are still in school because they naturally represent a high risk investment for sponsors.
“The process of setting up your own company will be full of challenges. You’ll face pressure from limited resources and capital and issues arising from people management. The reality can be torturous if you aren’t prepared for what lies ahead,” said Lu.
Wei echoed this sentiment, saying that the management of staff, work flow and market exploration are the biggest problems for student startups.
“Starting your own business is a road of no return. If you take a break or slack off for just a short while, you will be surpassed very soon,” said Wei.
“If you want to do this, sit tight and never lose sight of innovation.”
Cheng Si contributed to this story.
Wei Kai, a student entrepreneur who runs his own video studio, had managed to secure clients such as New Balance and Costa. The studio's turnover after just 10 months was 800,000 yuan.