“Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. It transforms you as an individual, completely”
So, you want to be an Entrepreneur? This is indeed a great thought. And like many other great thoughts, this could be a flight to fancy, or an actual, strenuous yet rewarding journey. It all depends on you what you make out of the spark in you.
How to become an entrepreneur cannot be taught in a classroom. It requires ground-level execution, as in a real-life lab. To give you an analogy, it is like being on a war front. You really cannot have many choices, you have to take decisions, you have to live by your decisions, and you have to be confident, resilient and be ready to play every possible role there and then to win the battle. And to your next battle, you cannot afford to carry the baggage of failure, you can carry only the learnings from there.
Let’s engage in a little self-introspection. But before that, let me tell you that no two entrepreneurs are exactly the same. Hence, do not compare yourself, and do not make the decision of becoming the entrepreneur, or not becoming one, by comparing yourself with others. Every entrepreneurial success or failure has its own set of footprints, its own journey over the years, its own DNA, and reasons of the state of the venture.
Coming back to self-introspection – understand yourself very well, your circumstances, your abilities, your responsibilities and your gut and determination to create an impact. If you have that fire in you which can push you to extreme levels and can make you challenge the status-quo and do something innovative to solve the problem you have observed, you could be relatively better placed to take the plunge as an entrepreneur. Having a huge bank balance to back you up does not guarantee your success as an entrepreneur, just as not having money cannot stop you from becoming an entrepreneur. Investors put their money on people and in the execution of ideas, not just on the idea.
Being an entrepreneur is a journey that might be taken up as a lone ranger, but it is actually enabled through great teamwork. So, learn to share, to let go, to set expectations, and to meet expectations. On top of this, one must learn to celebrate success together, and also to share the pain of failure together. Remember, if a venture has failed, it is not the failure of ‘you’, or your team. Do not play the blame game to pin the failure on someone. It was an idea that failed, hence, move on with what you have learnt for the future. Earn respect, earn die-hard loyalty – you will become a successful entrepreneur if you have a team you trust, and if the team trusts you, completely.
“Trust people, build processes, put in place checks and balances, and manage your emotions”
Every venture faces huge pressure during the scaling up phase, which includes the pinch points of ‘let go’. As an entrepreneur, you have conceived the idea, nurtured it, gradually scaled it up to a level that it now needs large teams, maybe multi-locational presence as well, and you start feeling the pain of losing power. You assume that once you let go of control, your business will be snatched away from you. You do not find the same degree of passion in the professional managers appointed by you. You do not find the same alignment of thinking and vision. Well, it will never be. Your business is a job for them. Yet, you still need to ‘let go’ of the single-handed control, else your business will not grow beyond certain limits. Trust people, build processes, put in place checks and balances, and manage your emotions.
Even though there are degrees and diplomas in entrepreneurship available in every part of this world, it is only your hands-on experience as an entrepreneur that will get you the right wisdom. Yes, it is true that a good education can increase the probability of success and will give you opportunity to build and leverage networks. Do not compromise on basic build-up and education.
There is no ‘right’ age – we have seen examples of successful ventures with founders having started them in their 40s and 50s. Yet, the sooner you begin, it could enable you to be better placed because of your energy levels, a comparatively less binding set of responsibilities at the personal front.
By the way, entrepreneurship is not a career option at all. It is not a job. You cannot run a venture with the mindset of an employee. It has to be a complete change in your thinking and perspective. You have to wear the hat of a business owner. You cannot have a 9 to 5 work clock as an entrepreneur. You have to constantly think, innovate, find ways and means to grow your venture, to find solutions to your challenges. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. It transforms you as an individual, completely.
- The article was originally published in Career Ahead April 2021 issue.