“Most entrepreneurs are fake - or simply confused,” was the opening line of a talk that I gave at a recent event in Delhi to a room full of entrepreneurs. I admit it was audacious, saying such stuff to a captive audience sitting rather far from the Exit sign.
The audience of 200 odd individuals with aspirations and dreams bigger than the world could possibly contain, fell silent for a minute, hoping for me to say that I was just joking. I wasn’t though. Let me explain:
“My good mentor always said: “Success in one in a million.” One could possibly win the lottery with such odds,” he would add. Then he would ask, “Do you still want to be an entrepreneur?”
Another equally weighted statement which he left me with before I decided to make the big leap: “There is only one rule with startups. Birds fly, fish swim and startups die.” While I gasped for breath hearing this, he summed it up for me in words that I think are wisdom personified: “It takes a miracle to build a startup.”
Think about it: A startup is everything against nature and the odds. You are a team of two; if blessed, one or two more. You have every possible resource under constraint and you have to take on the world. Miracle, actually, might be too gracious a word.
I believe the world has rather glorified the nature of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are who they are, and go out to change the world, because that’s the only way they know how to live. To want to become an entrepreneur, is madness. If at some point in your life you realize that you are not an entrepreneur, my advice is that you look up to the stars, thank God for it, and go off to live your life.
Entrepreneurship is not a lifestyle, it's the way that you are wired. Succinctly put, “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources you currently control.” There is a lot of luck, hard work, timing and hustling involved - even beyond which at times, things would fail. Actually, they most probably will.
I’ve often come across amazing entrepreneurs who, at first sight, were mistaken for those with a loose screw in their head. Genius resembles insanity and it is extremely hard to differentiate the two at times. The saying goes that “Everyone is a crank till the idea succeeds.” I couldn’t say it better.
I strongly believe that entrepreneurs and artists are very much alike in their thought processes - both have the innate ability to create something out of nothing. The reality stuck in their head most times is only relevant and known to them. No one else quite gets it, till they can see it actually functioning. If that is the truth, why do people willingly choose to become an entrepreneur? I doubt this is something that can be taught. It can be imitated to some degree, but when push comes to shove, reality would reveal itself.
Time and time again, I also see entrepreneurs get the priorities all wrong: Everyone is waiting on that big idea. The entrepreneur, the substance he or she is made up of is the core of all things that make an impact in the society. What follows closely is the insight into how things work. The product or idea is a secondary derivative. Get that right. Invest all the time and energy that you possibly can to strengthen that core.
Oh, there is one more thing: Entrepreneurs never crib. Whether they live in New York, Silicon Valley, Bengaluru, Tokyo or Shimla, real entrepreneurs find a way to make their mark. I’d even dare that they are the only ones who are capable of making that mark. They carry that insight that no one else does, to make it work. The insight is what accelerates that product-market fit that everyone keeps talking about. Insight drives adoption, and forms the basis for your marketing strategies. Everything you can possibly think about in terms of execution and a clean cut one at that, is built on the insight of an industry and the problem. What do you know that no one else knows about? That’s where it all begins.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line 'Vijay Anand'. Disclaimer: The views expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the magazine's.
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