Starting our own business is like going on an adventure. Risks are taken; wherein failures may become obstacles and success may galore. But to achieve success or to accept failure we must understand what it feels like to wear an entrepreneur’s shoes. My co-author, Sreenidhi and I have had the privilege to get in touch with a few successful entrepreneurs and those who worked for start-ups. Here, we summarized their wisdom into 8 lessons to learn before and after starting your business.
Lesson 1. Am I too young/old to start a business? From what we’ve gathered, you’re never too old to start a business but can sometimes be too young to conceive one. Experience and education are valuable assets to start an organization. While education brings with it the tools of the trade, experience will help in smooth sailing and understanding issues. Business is a timeless profession; it has no set method and no one formula. But experiences and the lessons learnt prior to starting a business are invaluable.
“So work for others at least for some time before starting on your own.”
‘I have worked for a number of companies prior to venturing on my own. I wanted to start my own business because I was interested in bringing to life and executing against my own ideas, and felt that corporate inertia would be limiting in my ability to execute.’
Jamal Khan. Arpatech Pvt. Ltd.
Lesson 2. People skills: When we think of starting our own business, we are fundamentally expected to understand the basic rules of the field and tools and terminology. But we also deal with people, and it’s probably best to accept the fact that our organization cannot work unless our team puts in their best effort possible. and we need to create a conducive atmosphere from the beginning. Be prepared to hire and fire people, train and learn from your team and learn not to micro manage, but at the same time, do not let it go completely. Love/hate relationships with your customers/vendors/employees/management is a reality. Allow yourself sufficient time to nurture/groom your team.
“Expect the unexpected and have buffer built into your schedules and cost estimates when dealing with people.”
‘Indian Bureaucracy and Indian Labour are both very tough to handle.’
Swetha Kurada, Desserted.
Lesson 3. Family and friends support: Support to an entrepreneur is like seasoning to a savoury dish! It puts our head in a positive space, boosts our confidence levels and also helps us through really tough times. Family is a very big support system, it is important to have their support because they are always someone we can rave about our work to, complain or just go back home to after a long day. Friends give us the required motivation and assurance, they are probably someone who’ll laugh at our career glitches with us and give us a pat on the back afterwards.
“Support puts an entrepreneur in a more secure, happy and strong-minded state.”
‘Support from family is the primary contributing factor to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur. Friends and mentors gave advice and confidence that I can do it.’
Prasad Attaluri, ASK RE Limited.
Lesson 4. Interest: For some of us, doing business is an artwork. It’s sometime we immensely enjoy. We add colour to it, think of ways to make it work beautifully and enjoy every second of it because it is ours and we cherish it. All of this is possible if we are truly interested in what we want to build, have built or will continue building. Sometimes luck doesn’t agree with us, we constantly have to prove ourselves and we face devastating starts. None of that should let us down, because if one door closes, another always opens. We must realize that even Picasso didn’t make a masterpiece the first time he held a brush. We must have patience for our passion to progress.
We must understand our responsibilities, learn from our mistakes and make more to learn more. Because like they say, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’
‘This is what I am born to do. Entrepreneurship is my calling.’
Vikram Janardhan, CEO of Insera Therapeutics, Inc.
Lesson 5. Build a trustworthy team: We often find ourselves in situations quite confusing and uncertain. That’s when we take advices and ask for opinions from a third party. Sometimes we trust ardently in someone and that can be a causative measure for business hurdles. It is necessary for us to build a team that is trustworthy and that can be entrusted with responsibility. Loyalties often change because doing business is an enigmatic process. We can’t really discern the right people from the wrong, experience often helps us grow as smart and nifty entrepreneurs.
So it is always better to rely on instinct and common sense while building a business.
‘If there is something that I’d do differently, I would build a better and trustworthy team.’
Lakshmi Kurada, Seasoned Entrepreneur
Lesson 6. Look for opportunities to grow: As Entrepreneurs it is very essential for us to plan ahead and be prepared for the better or for the worse. That way it is easier to jump into action at the time of crisis, or be equipped with plan Bs and have a neat working rapport with the company and its acquaintance. Encouraging new talent sometimes can work wonders for the company. People always have new ideas to share.
‘I would like to add more products to our business and give more opportunities to new talent.’
Surekha Attaluri, ASK RE Limited.
Lesson 7: It’s Business, not an Entrance Examination!: Most of us believe that gobbling down as much knowledge we can about Business making will help us tons while we are in for the real deal. What we fail to realize is that experiences, observation and practical thinking can help us heaps as well. And education about Entrepreneurship will always be helpful for us when it comes down to dealing with the basics and the necessary. But sometimes, as Entrepreneurs we are required to think out of the box, be more creative and more appealing. It can’t be put in better words,
‘Don’t spend a lot of time acquiring theoretical knowledge. Don’t strive for the top grades. Spend time increasing your exposure. Read a lot of non curriculum stuff. Follow what’s happening in the valley. Travel to new destinations on your college breaks. Meet tons of people.’
Vipul Kasera, LifeIsOutside.com.
Lesson 8: Timeliness and System: It’s always serious business when it comes to time management. This is one fundamental tip/lesson any professional field will embrace heartily. Nobody likes tardiness and nobody finds even a perfect presentation appealing when the presenter shows up half an hour late. Punctuality defines our personality, and in illustrative cases, it is often considered a synonym to that of a tycoon! Being organized is also an essential factor to a healthy work space.It always makes work easier, quicker and better.
‘I have a schedule for each day that I follow.’
Vijaya Kurada, RishiCareer.