I. Businessman. (Part 2)
Since I started my own entrepreneurial venture I have learned more about life, than I did in the rest of my years. While a lot of it was, in a sense, strictly related to my venture, in a way it reflects the hidden philosophy of life.
Here’s the first installment of things I have gathered on my way…
Do note that most of the points are relevant for relatively small, unfunded startups. I genuinely believe that asking for startup funding is as good as changing your job. It is only the nature and name of your boss that changes. Nothing else.
Learning No: 1
It is your journey and yours alone
Working in a corporate scenario, there are many employees involved in getting the work to happen. You collectively share the responsibility and collectively take the blame. There is safety in numbers.
As a businessman, when you’re on your own, the buck starts and stops with you. You will need to take the brickbats with the roses. You cannot hold anyone else responsible for the outcome. However many team members you may have, the final ownership of the business, profitability, successes and failures is vested solely in you!
There are no excuses. There is no one else to blame. You are the problem and the solution.
It is a lonely road. One that you must trudge along, alone.
Learning No: 2
Back to square one
All the seniority you have gained in your professional role, boils down to nothing when you start your own business.
Once you’re on your own, you will go back to the beginning of your career, functioning as a Boss, Manager, Executive and Office Boy, all rolled into one.
I jokingly maintain that earlier, I was a C.E.O. – a Chief Executive Officer. The day I started my own venture I became an A.I.O. – an All in One.
There are times when you would question why you’re functioning so far below your stature.
The answer is… Because you want to make this a success. Because you will not let this fail. Because you have to. Because no one else will!
Learning No: 3
You are not Steve Jobs. Period! Accept that.
Everyone is inspired by the story of Steve Jobs. Everyone has read his biography. Everyone is convinced that they will be able to create an ‘Apple’ out of thin air.
But as with all conjuring tricks (and every magician will tell you this), it is only an illusion, not reality.
It is important to note that the world was very different when Apple was founded. There was less competition. There was less choice. Consumers were less demanding. So in a world of drab looking products, Apple made the difference by adding style, intuitiveness and a superior user experience. They built on this to become the giant that they are today.
Apple’s success did not come in a day. Even now, Apple manages to charge a premium and drive huge profitability because of the billions they spend on creating and maintaining their image.
As a startup you will not, in all probability, be able to match that.
Like Steve Jobs, there are many multi billion dollar success stories. Some of them worked hard to get there. Some of them got lucky. But for every success story you hear, there are millions of others, like you and me, chasing the rainbow, with the hope of finding the pot of gold at the end.
If you wish to draw inspiration, first emulate your neighborhood kirana (grocery) store owner. If you have it in you to think, act and work like him (or her), you may, someday be able to graduate to the thinking of Steve Jobs.
Get realistic. Learn to walk, before you try to run.
TO BE CONTINUED…
(This is part 2 of a series of blogs on my learnings as an entrepreneur )
Read Part 3 here