By Morgan Terigi, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Incomlend
Most of us grew up believing that life has a specific path set out for us. We go to school, complete our studies, get a corporate job in that big company we always wanted to work for, climb the corporate ladder, and eventually reach the top.
I had the same experience at the start of my career, finding myself in a highly competitive and target-driven environment. I discovered that I didn’t have that mindset or conviction to be a corporate person. Soon the question came to mind: “What is the most important thing for me in life? Is it that fancy job title, job security and a good salary? Or, is it freedom and making a difference?” Corporate life is an illusion; that’s how I see it. As an entrepreneur, you would know if you can deliver or not on your own.
The answer was the latter, and that was how I rejected the corporate path to set out on my own. It was a natural decision as I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. For others, they might need to overcome bigger barriers and greater inertia when they embark on the road to entrepreneurship.
My experience in entrepreneurship has spanned over two decades. It’s a privilege to share some of the lessons I have learned, intending to inspire younger, new entrepreneurs and help smoothen their journey and gain more success early on.
Finding the Courage to Get off the Beaten Path
Gathering the courage to step off the well-travelled career trajectory is often the first and hardest step for many aspiring entrepreneurs. For many, this would mean leaving behind a life of stability and familiarity and facing a significant amount of uncertainties in many instances. From balancing work and family commitments to forsaking aspects of their life, starting a business of your own is no easy decision.
Aspiring entrepreneurs should dig deep to find the driving force behind charting their paths. In my case, it was realising that rules and processes had to be followed when we worked for someone else. But was I making an impact or a difference through it all? I soon recognised that change only ever happens when you are brave enough to go beyond your boundaries and take charge of your life.
Finding the Purpose for Your Company
In an invoice financing environment, one of the first steps to building a viable business is to recognise the trade gaps in the markets. From there, you can strategise how your company can deliver the solutions and services that meet the unmet needs of other businesses or individuals.
When my business partner and I first conceptualised Incomlend, we noticed a gap where traditional financial institutions are underserving small, medium enterprises (SMEs). Although SMEs are universally acknowledged as engines of economic growth and social development, they continue to be constrained by a lack of viable working capital solutions and access to financing.
Traditional financial institutions are often not well-equipped to address the needs of SMEs because of the perceived high risks and low predictability of their business. These SMEs may also struggle to demonstrate sustained creditworthiness. Regardless of where these businesses are located, the challenge is real. As a business owner, I have experienced it first-hand throughout my entrepreneurship journey in the Asian region and across the world.
We set up Incomlend for this very reason, to be a trusted financial partner and to provide SMEs access to competitive and alternative non-recourse working capital solutions to safeguard their financial health and quickly capture new revenue opportunities.
Finding the Pulse of the Market
Understanding the pulse of the market and industry trends and evolving with the times is vital in ensuring your company stays relevant and thrive in today’s dynamic landscape.
One of the key trends that are sweeping across all industries is digitalisation. No matter the sector, digital technology is something that budding entrepreneurs must embrace. Indeed, two in five Singapore SMEs that implemented digital initiatives in 2020 experienced more robust revenue growth than non-adopters.
For Incomlend, we leverage digital technologies to transform ourselves and stay on top of market trends and changes. For example, amid the uptick in buyers defaulting on payment in 2020, we saw the significant need for a self-service credit assessment tool among SMEs. We recently introduced TradeCheck, an online credit limit assessment tool that enables exporters to assess potential overseas buyers’ creditworthiness quickly. It bypasses third-party credit reports and lengthy processes set in place by traditional financial institutions.
Finding Partners in the Way Forward
As the famous saying goes, no man is an island. To succeed in today’s business climate, you will need to foster a strong collaborative relationship with your fellow entrepreneurs. By building stronger, strategic partnerships with different companies across the broader ecosystem can help your company innovate and enhance the quality of your services and products. Furthermore, by pooling our collective expertise and knowledge together, we can achieve more significant outcomes and make a more considerable difference when addressing the market’s unmet demands.
For instance, the trade finance industry is facing a global trade finance gap of US$3 trillion. The demand for trade finance solutions far exceeds what the market can supply today. It provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to collaborate in various ways to address the gap, including the development of a white-label digital platform that allows different fintech players to deliver their services and mitigate the risk of fraud.
The road to entrepreneurship is not a smooth sailing one. It will require commitment, perseverance, forward-thinking and problem solving to create a viable business. While the journey is not an easy one, it can be a rewarding one.
I got out of the corporate world early because I wanted to seek out business opportunities and create my brand and destiny. I don’t want to follow someone else’s dream. There is no right or wrong here. It is about living your life in a way that is as fulfilling and as rich as possible through different experiences.
Morgan Terigi is CEO and Co-Founder of Incomlend. Based in Singapore, Morgan has an extensive background in trade and manufacturing, having established companies in Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore. Spotting a trade finance gap in the market, Terigi co-founded Incomlend in 2016. As one of the first alternative cross-border trade finance platforms globally, Incomlend enables companies to finance their export invoices by selling them to accredited and institutional investors at a discount.