According to the author, we are living in the golden era of entrepreneurship, and it is easier to become a successful entrepreneur now than ever
Editor’s note: This is originally a reader’s comment to the article ‘Why I will not found a startup’ written by our India Correspondent
A very interesting article, indeed. First off, I would like to applaud on your straight-forwardness and being candid. To be honest, that itself is one of the most admirable qualities that an entrepreneur needs to succeed, which you have probably not mentioned due to the fact that you cannot deny possessing it. Moving on…
I have been an entrepreneur all my life, juggling between startups is the only part of my life I can relate with. According to the hit movie Shawshank Redemption, I am in “Institutionalised”. I never had a regular day job, except for the one (medical transcription-ing) where I had to earn money (INR 2500 or US$37/month) to take my girlfriend for dates in college (My dad gave me an allowance of INR 500 (US$7.5) per month AND I was in hostel, so, yeah!). Having said that, let me put myself in your shoes and access the decision from your perspective.
First off, I believe we are living in the Golden Era of Entrepreneurship. I do not know if this is a bubble that will someday pop and people and the markets will get ‘Corrected’ or not, but the fact is, at this moment of time, it is easier to become a successful entrepreneur than ever (And I mean EVER, probably including the future ever). Let’s go point by point on this.
1) Startups are for the strong
Well, a big YES on that. Having said that, you also need to be agile, you need to optimise your strengths and weaknesses because each can be used interchangeably, depending upon situation. Let’s take Kodak, for example, they did not adopt to the changing needs of consumers, by deciding to NOT get into the Digital Camera space. They were the evangelists of film (commercially), and were too strong-headed to notice the changing trends and adapt.
Conclusion, they failed! Similar story for Nokia, and a hundred dozen other large enterprises who were too strong to adapt. The point I am trying to make is that it is equally important to be a chameleon to be successful (chameleons change their skin colours according to their environments. This ‘skill’ is what increases its chances of survival better than any other animal in its domain). It’s just that you have to be strong enough to decide what parameters should influence you. A drunk friend at a party telling you that you idea sucks, does not apply. You get my drift?
2) Family comes first
Agreed here as well, but being successful does not mean neglecting your family in entirety. I am not too sure about the company you work for, but any successful company would also expect its founders, partners, employees, etc. to make equal sacrifices and time investments. If you want to move up the corporate ladder, you need to be ready to put what it takes to deliver.
Many a time, that would involve putting in long hours. Another thing that is important is time management. If you focus on your task at hand, you don’t need more than eight to nine hours to complete your day’s requirements at work. I have lived a good amount of my life in the US. The folks there generally leave office by 6:30 pm, and yet it’s the most successful nation in the world. I would advise you to try something out, for ONE day maintain a time sheet, mark the start and end times of your work, even if you go on a pee break, pause the timer, resume it ONLY when you start work with full focus, log off from the world around you.
At the end of the day you will see that out of the 12 hours you invested, you only worked with full focus for four to five hours. The remaining time was ‘donated’ (Yes, call yourself magnanimous) to “Bak-Chodi” (In Indian startup parlance). Try it out, and you will know what I mean.
3) Yes, steady income is important
Of course it is! You got bills to pay, keep the lights on. But, have you explored how to start off a business ALONG with your day job? If you are passionate about what you are doing, you would figure out a way to start by investing one to two (Dedicated, see above) hours a day and start off something. A blog, Maybe? I was reading about this company called Inshorts and they started off by maintaining a Facebook page containing concise news clippings of the day’s current events, they got traction from there and THEN decided to build an app. Now they are kicking asses of some of the largest media houses in the country.
What I am saying is that you need to know when you are ready to take the leap, when you know your parachute will open when you pull that string at THAT altitude. Also, look for F&F Cash for bootstrapping, you don’t need to raise a million dollars to startup, because going by what I said in Point #1, it is also the CHEAPEST to start a company that EVER!
4) Digital media is especially hard to start
Why?! What makes you say that? People are hungry for information! Look at TechCrunch, they started off by reporting news from the tech world. Improvise, man! Remember the Inshorts story? Read Above! I am not from your domain and even I can think of two-three things you can do to get started right away!
Look at your Youtube wonders (AIB, TVF, =3, etc.) these guys started by using a handycam, and have become millionaires by just posting videos on YouTube. They did NOT take four to five years to make serious money. They took six months to be precise.
Also, why do you need a VC to start out with? VCs are not fortune tellers, they go with the company that has proven engagement, irrespective of the domain. My advise, you need to wake up and smell the coffee!
5) I don’t want to be a millionaire
Fantastic! Don’t be one! In fact never start a company thinking that you will become a millionaire because of it, start it because you are passionate about what you are doing. Money is a by product of passion and persistence, it should NEVER be the other way around. The fact you mentioned this, make you are better equipped for becoming successful than ones who startup on the foundations of becoming millionaires (or gazillionaires). Then one day, when you do, donate it all to the poor (your good wife and kids will stab you in your sleep, by the way).
What it really takes to become an entrepreneur is thinking right and keeping your eyes open. The trick is not about identifying WHAT you are going to do, but more to do with HOW you will do it within the confines of your resources and time. You don’t have to found Tesla and SpaceX just to be successful.
The author Seemant Mathur is a serial entrepreneur and founder of four companies.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your article here.
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