Real entrepreneurs are dynamic people. Put them in the middle of a desert, and they will think up an oasis. Push them into a tunnel, and they will spot the light at the end
Successful entrepreneurs rarely have the world handed to them in a platter. No matter where they are, they are really looking to reinvent the way as we know it. They know that there is never going to be an “ecosystem” that is waiting for you to show up and work your magic. Real entrepreneurs are capable of creating vortexes where they stand. They are the Archimedes of the generation who, with a lever and a place to stand, can move the world. Even when it looks like they are standing in the middle of a barren desert, they can spin so fast that they can attract like-minded people around them, challenge the norm, polarize people and make the world take notice.
Most of these fabulous folks are also extremely skilled. Almost always, with more than one skillset. They can code, they can design, they can sell, negotiate, hustle - and they are always multi-skilled. Step back for a minute here and think about it: To create something - not transform like what Newton talked about, but to create - from scratch, is almost an act of God. To bring into life something that never existed before. That doesn’t happen so easily. In Indian mythology, all Gods have multiple hands, and it is supposed to signify the multiple facets of their personality, and character. There might be something of ancient wisdom in that - to draw upon, and to learn that to create something, you almost can never have enough skills. If you are one of those who think they can’t crunch numbers even if your life depended on it, you will very soon realize that entrepreneurship will hand you that opportunity. Be prepared.
Talking about Gods, there is a critical lesson that I’ve learnt along the way. One of my rather recent mentors often used to ask if we practice Shiva enough. What caught me puzzled at first, led me to an epiphany rather soon. Indian mythology states that there is the God of creation and the God of destruction. Nothing ever gets created out of thin air, but in most cases is a better version of what existed before. If that is the case, without destroying something, what can you really create? In a recent TED talk, economist Tim Harford talks about how we need to abandon our God complex and realize that the most elegant of our solutions arrive by trial and error.
A wise man once said, “If we are scared to experiment, then we must also admit that we aren’t open to innovating.” It’s a rather abused word, and I’d avoid it if I can, but there is a bit of truth to that. If you are running a startup and it’s been five years and there is no light at the end of that tunnel, perhaps its time to admit that something is wrong. Learn something out of it by having a moment of introspection and rise up from those ashes.
I am at times amazed as to how many different variations of that simple truth is expounded to us through all the various traditions - that death is the foundation of life, as long as it through its life had contributed for something better. In other words, Iterate, evolve and accelerate. If you do it right, and if you are a fast learner, it will look like what you unveiled came out of nowhere - and almost out of nothing.
meet Vijay Anand
Serial entrepreneur, known as The Startup Guy. Until recently he was the vice president of New Ventures at IITM’s Incubation Centre. He is the founder of The Startup Centre, spearheads various startup initiatives, and sits on the board of a few companies. To write to the author, please send an email to email@example.com with the subject line 'Vijay Anand'. Disclaimer: The views expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the magazine's.