As I complete ten years of being an entrepreneur, here is what I would like to share with all you aspiring, being and dreaming to be ? entrepreneurs:
10 years of being an entrepreneur, 10 truths of about being one!
1. Being an entrepreneur is not tough. Its almost impossible!
You see, it doesn?t come with any definite ?promotion? plans, promises of bonus or number of holidays in a year. You need to get up and prove your worth every single day. Its a merit test by the hour. If you aren?t self motivated, dont even think about taking this plunge, its far more challenging than it looks like. You will taste despair, failure and triumph every day. It will make you jump with joy or smash your confidence in quick succession. You need a heart of steel to go through these emotions on a regular basis and not get swept away by wither.
2. Excel Sheets and Business plans will fail you!
No matter how good you are with numbers, the plans will fail you. Almost certainly so! If they dont fail you then you are playing too safe or slow. Entrepreneurship is about learning on the go. It needs one to be agile, on your feet and flexible. The numbers on the sheets will dissolve into newer plans as you strive to keep up with newer market trends.
3. Believe in your dream
A million people dont need to believe in your dream for it to come true. You need to believe in them, no matter how large and distant they seem. Times will be tough, people will be cynical or even unfair. Dont let that taint your vision. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world did the impossible by staying with their beliefs. Dont let the opinions of others crush your dream. DOnt react, dont get mad. Just get working.
4. Brands take time to build
You need to have patience of a monk and be industrious like an ant. Calm and focused like an archer. Any name worth its credibility in the market takes time to build. It takes years for people to begin trusting your organization especially, if you are in services industry. Dont be in a rush to grow, add people, introduce new verticals…until you have found the initial confidence in the clients.
5. No one cares for a fancy office!
We are entrepreneurs; we are supposed to bring innovation into business, not a bill of overheads! No one cares for plush offices or paintings in your conference rooms. Infact, the first thing the client thinks when sees the splurge is- I am paying for this lavish style!! Dont do that. Work your funds sincerely. Even if it means sharing offices, splitting resources, working from home..do it. Whatever keeps you working efficiently and smartly. Use the money to increase quality of output.
6. Accept failures, learn and move on. Dont be stupid and live in denial.
As brave as you may be about your ideas, they may fail and very unceremoniously so. At that point, one needs to stop living in denial and false ego. Accept the failure, learn from the experience, adapt your style, work on new goals, dont feel defeated in the purpose and dont let it kill your spirit. Learn to wear your falls and its bruises with pride. It shows that you had the courage to pursue your dream but the wisdom to know when to let it go.
7. Surround yourself with wise people
Keep company of people who are sharp and motivated. Get them to be your trusted soundboards. Share your ideas with people who may tear it apart but with the intention of making it robust. Find a good mentor but dont depend on them on everyday decisions. Use their expert advise to take critical long term calls. Sometimes, many ethical and twisted dilemmas are easily resolved if you have good advisors.
8. You are the CEO- Chief Everything Officer!
I have worked out of home, delivered couriers, picked up cheques, pasted creatives on sunbaords for presentations, literally lived on ground at event venues, delivered positives (years ago when internet wasn?t as widely used for file transfer) to pilots to carry for print in another city, spent nights proof reading ads for 54 different publications, supervising shoots and much more…there is no job too small if you wish to be an entrepreneur. Be ready to be a janitor and a company director as and when needed. It wont kill you but will crush your ego for sure. Stack away the precious degrees and fold up your sleeves to even sweep the floor if needed.
9. Dont play man vs woman card
This is an important piece of experience I would like to share with my women friends. Do not play a man vs woman card. Ever. Dont expect to get a project or dont feel that it was refused just because you are a woman. If you are capable and have what it takes, people will get up and take notice. Eventually. The world may be biased and there may be cultural defences to break especially in a country like India but, talent conquers it all. Carry yourself with confidence. Do not negotiate your integrity. Dont let someone deal you the cards based on your being a woman. If you are equally capable and determined, you will get work, irrespective. Look around you, there are women achievers in every single field and none of them are playing ? oh i am so helpless-card. These are all women of substance.
Dont whine, dont complain. Dont blame it on a male dominated society. Be inspired. Be inspirational.
10. Entrepreneurship can get lonely
You may meet a hundred people during your professional pursuit, be a part of forums, socially active and all of that. But, at the end of the day, most entrepreneurs are still weaving their dreams on their own. Their mind is full of new ideas, strategies which they are constantly working upon and that can turn one into a bit of a lonely person. Before you find yourself consumed and a recluse, start to build a close circle of friends from different fields. Make sure you spend time away from your regular bunch of work associates. Pick up a hobby, read something unrelated to your work, travel, listen to music, photograph, write….anything that keeps you in touch with other aspects of life too.
As for me, the last ten years have taught me taught me everything about work and life- triumphs, conquests, winning pitches, highs, applause……losses- of work and people, passing away of my mentor, abrupt closing of projects,despair, difficult clients, impossible deadlines….meeting people from across the globe, partners, vendors, clients, friends…some who trusted with conviction and others who made me stronger by being cynical. its been in parts- heart wrenching, ego crushing, tough, educative, fulfilling, evolving and a roller coaster ride! Wouldnt trade it for anything in the world!
Dedicated to my Gods & Gurus.