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Mastering Business in Asia: Entrepreneurship





Book: 'Mastering Business in Asia: Entrepreneurship'

Author: Chris Boulton and Patrick Turner

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, 2005


Leader Values

Most books about entrepreneurship can be summed up as “How I became a successful entrepreneur”. That approach can be motivating or even inspirational, but it tends to give a rather narrow view of the subject. After all, entrepreneurs aren't all the same, and neither are the countries that they live in. So Boulton and Turner have taken a different tack. In keeping with the slightly academic sounding title of the Mastering Business in Asia series, Entrepreneurship gives a much broader and more data-based overview of what it takes to be an entrepreneur, shows where the opportunities lie, and discusses the types of problem that entrepreneurs face.

Another distinctive feature of Entrepreneurship is its focus on Asia. Of course, Asia has long been a hotbed of entrepreneurial opportunity and activity - but many books give the impression that all entrepreneurs are American or European. Entrepreneurship helps to put the record straight by giving many examples of entrepreneurial activity in Asia today.

With China taking an increasingly important role in the global economy, it is no surprise to see that China is mentioned on over 80 pages. The recent rise of China has helped to fuel business entrepreneurship in Asia. Furthermore, the data show that entrepreneurial activity in China is above the global average and well above many of its neighbours. But China is also facing some big challenges. Most of China's entrepreneurship is necessity-based, driven by a lack of viable alternatives - not opportunity-driven. In addition, the administrative burden for new businesses in China is higher than for many other countries, though certainly not the highest in Asia. Boulton and Turner also give insightful analyses of the state of entrepreneurship in other key Asian countries.

So what does a typical entrepreneur look like? Many people's mental picture of an entrepreneur is a young person who quit university early to achieve fame by starting his or her own business. Adapting the old joke about engineers, you could summarise this view as: “Yesterday I couldn't even spell entrepreneur, and now I am one”. But if that's how you think of entrepreneurs, it's time to think again. The statistics show that most of them are indeed young - typically less than 30 years old. But they are not uneducated. Three quarters of them have postgraduate-level academic qualifications. They have strong belief in their ability to start and manage a new business, and are good at recognising business opportunities.

Of course, entrepreneurship doesn't simply end when a business succeeds. It continues to face new challenges as the business grows and matures. So Boulton and Turner use the growth pattern of a typical entrepreneurial company to structure their discussion of the evolving themes and issues. Many of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs are related to money, so there is an excellent overview of topics such as finding early stage capital and the pros and cons of raising public funds through an Initial Public Offering.

This is excellent reading for entrepreneurs, would-be entrepreneurs and those working with them - especially those in Asia.

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