Entrepreneurship - A wasted degree?

Jes 8 Comments

Earning $100k or getting a honours degree is not stopping me from starting me own business. However, many would feel that I have wasted my education. They ask, why do I need to study so much if I am going into entrepreneurship? Have I wasted my technical knowledge and wasted my last 8 years of working experience?

I don't think so.

Education has prepared me with enough concepts and theory and that allowed me to self-study for other online course I like. With the fundamentals taught in school, I can read through online materials easily and grasp concepts with just any online search. I do not expect education to teach me to be open to failures, to give me concrete plans and ideas on how to earn profits. Those ideas come from me but the implementation does require education in order to keep it going.

Not just that, my work experience made me aware of how things work in the world. How they generate sustainable profits, protect their own interests, compete against others and keep up with changes. You cannot learn these from the books. You learn them by pitting yourself against them, be one of them, and fight with the world. In another words, I took away the soft skills.

That give me confidence in believing I can sell anything.

Even 'kacang putih'.

I know many people wonder why I change from regional sales to selling 'peanuts'. Getting peanuts as my salary too. That itself seems like a drastic change. Nonetheless, the pricing strategy and marketing concepts are pretty similar. I just have to be flexible and adapt them to the food industry. The customer service is also the same, just do my very best and because I can decide what to offer, I can provide services beyond what is standard.

I also got experience in trying out all roles - Marketing, accounting, customer service, administrative, website management, delivery man, purchasing and not just sales. Instead of paying more than $50,000 to study in MBA, I got my real world MBA course right here.

Simple things like meeting urgent deadlines, giving small samples that customers requested, providing for free customised labels, cards and personalised greetings. I don't just sell snacks, I try to make online shopping a very personal experience for each customer.

From selecting their customised range of snacks to receiving it sooner than expected, to unwrapping them and savouring each crunch. I hope in the end, people will be excited to receive our snacks and eager to see what other surprises we can offer. The positive experience is what I want to achieve and the take-away feelings of happiness is something that will remain in my customer's mind, instead of just the product itself.

It's pretty lofty, I may not be succeed but my vision is much larger than the product itself.

I don't just sell nuts.

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  1. Hi Jess,

    I am always asked the same questions of why I'm wasting my degree doing tuition. I could have just do that as a side line and earning twice the salary. If they haven't done it, they don't know how helpful and confident one could get by getting a degree. I slogged it out in my engineering degree and have the confident that I can study anything that you throw to me and teach it to others, given enough time. That is the attitude that I paid for my degree.

    I guess that's how things are like. Nothing is ever wasted.

    1. Hi LP,

      Eh, I thought getting a degree is very relevant to being a tutor! People will ask what kind of background you have before they allow you to teach their kids. I doubt you can convince them without at least a degree, particularly when the parents are degree holders.

      For sales, it's different. No degree also can, just know how to talk and build relationship, which is why degree is not that important. But indeed, we have a degree to fall back on no matter what happens. That I believe is the right attitude, to know we can learn anything even if we don't already know! The confidence to learn things is super crucial to all business :)

  2. How about Degree and Masters married women becoming full time housewives without any pay. Lagi wasted!

    1. Hi Uncle CW,

      Hahaha, I think that's ok because that means they got married to a rich/successful husband. Probably they can't get to know the partners without a degree or masters, LOL!

  3. Haha, it's still not wasted, because a very highly educated women will ideally bring up children who can contribute to society in ways unimaginable! Not everything needs to be paid in money :)

    1. Well, highly educated parents does not mean they will bring up kids well and vice versa. The time invested is more critical. But definitely highly educated means more money and able to spend more to afford A grade tutors like you! Haha. :)

  4. Well look at it this way ... Your degree possibly helped you a lot in getting a good paying job that allowed you to build up sufficient capital quickly.

    It also gave you the opportunity to be in a job where you were at a certain level to see how businesses clicked, how marketing & sales fit into the service/product pipeline, how to deal with customers, suppliers, tech teams, pre sales, post sales, managing accounts, maintenance, follow-up etc. Company covered 5 star hotels & biz class travel also doesn't hurt haha.

    Your degree program (and job) also allowed you to build up networks of potentially well paid people & potential customers.

    Plus all S'pore citizens get to enjoy 1X 80% subsidised local Uni or Poly (those who get from Poly direct to local U enjoy both). It's one of the very few "welfare" we get ... Don't use will regret! Haha

    1. Hi there,

      Yeah you are absolutely right! Especially on the capital part and being in a job to see how businesses work. However, I did not tap on my previous network for my current start-up because they are very different groups of customers. It's still good to have a fall-back with a degree if all things fail though.

      Hahaha, I like the subsidised school fees part, have not thought of it that way and I really enjoyed my schooling days. I don't think I would have the confidence to start my own business even if I don't get into university so probably the level of maturity and experience counts too.

      Thanks for the great sharing! :)