The other day I had the opportunity of hanging around with a gentleman who has made it big in business. What is unique about his enterprise is that he has not just made it big against the proverbial odds; but he had the vision of doing what he did for twenty years. And since I was privy to the vision pretty early on, I find it not just a commendable achievement and persistence of vision, but also a success story to get inspired from.
In my line of work, I meet dime a dozen people who fancy themselves as entrepreneurs. There is a running joke between a columnist in this magazine and me, that people use the term ‘entrepreneur’ to describe what they are doing, to resist any further questions. As if entrepreneurism comes with a guarantee of economic moratorium. Even more astounding is if I meet the same person after a few months, he is on to something totally new to what he was impassioned when I had encountered him for the first time.
There is nothing wrong in course correction or spotting of an opportunity to change tracks – some pretty big business empires have been created due to a deviant turn or happenstance that the entrepreneur chanced upon. But what I described above doesn’t fit in that category.
Business success is a mix of too many variables – pitched against a constant, the time taken to achieve that success. What separates the grain from the chaff is a robust mix of a lot of attributes, prime among which is the faith you have in your enterprise. I know many people who enjoy walking into their workplaces in the mornings – for the sheer joy it offers them. The work itself is their reward. Would you not think that this is a mark of success? Or then, despite amassing a lot of profits, there are still those grumps, who look at their enterprise as a load that heavies and slows them down.
Having faith in one’s enterprise is not as easy as it sounds. Especially in a place like India, where entrepreneurial failure is accompanied by colossal social stigma. Where you are trained to take the safe exit that life offers you.
No entrepreneur worth his salt will tell you that his journey in business is comfortable – but he will, in the same breath, assure you that he would have it no other way.
When you have faith in your business, you are mentally prepared to ride the rough waves that will come along. You will also go right ahead and do whatever suits your business, irrespective of what the naysayers warn you about. In my opinion, youngsters who band themselves as entrepreneurs, should go out and talk to established players in their domain. Many of who, would love to regale you with their war stories. It’s a two way street. The hero gets to share his tale with interested youngsters, who in turn can file these nuggets as inspiration or case study. And no amount of reading can replicate this experience.
It is strange that our academic curriculum in schools is completely oblivious to the fact that many students will grow up to run their own businesses. It is also a rarity that children get acquainted with business basics in only a few ‘business’ communities in the country. Which means that majority of them, who are out to eke a living doing trade and commerce have to self educate themselves, or pick up the ropes while in someone’s employ. Here again, comes the fact that with the given paucity of resources, one has to make that leap of faith. Put your time, money and peace of mind on a business idea. Not just to make a living or make a killing, but to make your faith work. Who said that entrepreneurism is for the faint hearted?