Sukanto Tanoto – Successful philanthropist and businessman

Entrepreneurship is the process of identifying and organising required resources to create value, taking both the risks and rewards associated with the new venture. As an entrepreneur, knowing your strengths is easy but facing and fixing your weaknesses can sometimes create inaction in all of us. It may sound simple to some, but the truth is, more attributes are required out of an individual in order to become a successful entrepreneur.

Riding on this global trend, entrepreneurship has also gained its popularity in Singapore in recent years whereby students are encouraged to find their own identities and unleash their creativity to turn their dreams into reality. Many governmental bodies such as SPRING Singapore have been set up to cater to the needs of these budding Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and to promote the economic growth of Singapore.

Even though these initatives are very effective, but one of the best preparation to be done before embarking on this long and tough entrepreneurship journey is none other than talking to people who have been through the same entrepreneurial path. Not only it prevents one from committing the same mistakes, it is more important to know how these successful entrepreneurs bounced back from their setbacks and hurdles, and emerged as a stronger contender each time.  Sukanto Tanoto is someone who is willing to share his stories.

In an interview with Sukanto Tanoto, he was asked ‘What does it take to be successful in pioneering: create something out of nothing and what kind of people we need to lead this kind of business?” His reply was “people who take calculated risks”.

“What do I mean by calculated risks? My approach was simple. Firstly, as a pioneer, I was always on the look out for opportunities to invest in new business. When I fancied a particular business I would spend a lot of effort to get as much information as I could. If what I had studied convinced me that it had good potential then I would start talking to people who were skeptical. The only way to get some value is when people are skeptical about a project. They don’t want to do it; they don’t dare to do it. As an entrepreneur you talk to them and ask them: what are your worries, what can go wrong? And ask yourself by out of the box thinking: “How I can solve the problems? Who has had this kind of problem? What is the worse scenario?” You ask a lot of people.  Having done all the necessary investigation and calculation, one has to make a decision by pondering the worst scenario, making sure you can do something without compromising the whole company. The most important is you don’t stop when people tell you that you cannot do it. The more skeptical and negative a person is the more one can learn from him. I would act fast once I was convinced that I was on the right track.”

Sukanto Tanoto believes that calculated risk is not science; it depends on the ability of a person to take adversity and stress. Not all human beings are able to take calculated risks in business.

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