Most people would vie for a single chance to be an entrepreneur. I was lucky to have had not one but two chances. My first entrepreneurial venture, a e-commerce site called Homeindia.com, did not quite take off as expected. After almost a decade long effort, I exited the business. A couple of years later, I had the opportunity for another shot at entrepreneurship. And this time I build at digital media agency business, which I sold to WPP after 5 years. All the lessons that I learnt at my first venture came in handy while building the second one. Here are some of them :
- There is no substitute for hard work
Like someone once said, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Our modern-day business construct, derived from western thinking, talks about work-life balance. For an entrepreneur this concept of work-life balance is humbug. There are only two phases in the life of an entrepreneur: work and sleep. When you are not working, you are sleeping. And when you are not sleeping, you are working. Everything else is a bonus. Family vacations, Sunday outings, friends and parties…everything is a bonus. This is not to say that family and me-time is not important. It is just that I am not able to see them as two distinct things. To me, “work” and “life” are both continuums and both run side by side.
- Don’t be shy of knocking on every door
As a budding entrepreneur one will need lot of help and guidance. And quite often this help and guidance is available in our immediate circle of friends, relatives and acquaintances. Don’t be hesitant to ask for that help. Knock every door that you can. Some will help you, some wont. Leverage those who are able to assist…….and you will see lot of valuable inputs come your way.
- Focus on creating value, not on valuation
Many a times we get carried away by the concept of valuation. And in our anxiety to raise capital or get investment into the business, we may window dress the company or take decisions that are make the business look good in short term but hurt it is in the long-term. As entrepreneurs we should focus on creating value. Create something that is valuable, and sooner or later……..you will get valuation for the same.
- Business targets cannot be missed
Be very demanding of yourself. Sometimes when we miss our targets, as entrepreneurs we start rationalizing the same (bad economy, bad monsoon etc.). Honestly none of these factors are relevant for start-ups or small businesses. And because we don’t have a “boss” we are able to get away with this rationalization. One of the lessons that I learnt is that we need to be demanding of ourselves and ensure that timelines and targets don’t get missed
- Senior talent Is very critical
The best investment one can make is not in technology or in marketing but in good quality senior talent. Good professional talent brings in experience, expertise, sagaciousness as well as a sounding board that can help in crucial decision making.
- Perfection, but not at cost of growth
While it is good to be a perfectionist, the cost of perfection increases exponentially. Which means that it the cost to do perfect 70% right is X, then the cost to do it 90% perfect is 2X and 100% perfect is 5X. One my learnings is that doing something 90% perfect is just fine. Focus the balance time on business growth and strategic thinking.
- Be ambitious
Nothing worthwhile in life was ever achieved without ambition. One must have a strong ambition and willing to invest in hard work to bring it to life. Don’t think in terms of incremental growth (10%, 20% etc). Think in terms of multiples of growth (2X, 3X and so on). Good strategy, constant look out for opportunities and hard work will enable this kind of growth