Friday, 8 April 2016

How to be less Kiasu and more entrepreneurial

So someone (NMP Kuik) has decided to take a shot at "Kiasuism". 
Entrepreneur Kuik Shiao-Yin, 39, said Singaporeans' fear of failure has led to a lack of originality in the local entrepreneurship scene.
She has only negative things to say about our national attribute of being kiasu, and how it foments mediocrity, selfishness, short-termism, and a toxic race. And it has curtailed our entreprenuership.

She asks that we stop the kiasu culture and our fear of scarcity.

Brilliant! Bravo!

How? Just stop being kiasu. You know. Like how one can just give up drinking if one were alcoholic. Or smoking, if one has a 2 pack a day habit. Or stop loving your spouse and children. Or just stop paying your mortgage.

Because her solution to being kiasu, is simply for people to just be satisfied with what they have and not be so kiasu.

So simple?

Well, I'm glad she is not a counsellor, a social worker, or in some mental health or social helping profession.

I'm not either.

My forte is understanding systems (fiscal, physical, behavioural, cultural, values, incentives, etc), and how they create or support social structures or cultural constructs.

So I would firstly ask, "why are we kiasu?"

And once we understand that it is about the Singaporean Right to own a home (usually a HDB flat, but sometimes, more upmarket home). This is why there are fewer entrepreneurs.

If the entrepreneur has a mortgage, business failure could also mean losing his home, and a roof over his family's head.
Should we discourage home ownership?
No. We're too invested in the home ownership society. Any attempt to reverse this will be catastrophic.
But the housing option in Singapore is rather limited. Entrepreneurs elsewhere tend to rent instead of committing to home ownership. They would rather invest in their business.
The solution may be to develop the housing rental market, or find some way to make rent less painful, and more plentiful. This would offer entrepreneurs an affordable rental option instead of attempting home ownership.
But, the system is set up to promote home ownership. You can use your CPF to pay your mortgage, but you can't use your CPF to pay your rent.
I hesitate to suggest allowing CPF for rental housing from HDB, as CPF is already being used for too many schemes. And HDB already has their hands full trying to meet buyers' demand, let alone dealing with rising rental demand. Also, entrepreneurs may not have that much CPF to use anyway (they may not have worked very long to build up much of a CPF anyway. So allowing CPF to be used for rent may not help that much anyway.)
Simply put, if you believe in the Singaporean Right, and want to own a home/flat, you will need to get a job. That pays a regular salary.

And if you have a job, and your CPF has grown enough that you and your spouse can now afford the down payment on a flat, and you have a mortgage, you cannot afford to lose your job, or to become an entrepreneur.

Because 90% of all enterprises fail. If your business fail, you can't pay your mortgage instalments, you lose your flat.

In any case, if you really want to start a business, you need the money you would have put into your down payment and renovation into your business. And if your business manages to turn a profit, you would reinvest your profits into growing your business.

So, no home.

Want more entrepreneurs? Stop selling the idea that Singaporeans should own their own home.

BUT, that is how the PAP/Govt (LKY) intends to root Singaporeans to the country.


Now the trick is how to give Singaporeans Roots and Wings.

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