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Be an entrepreneur. Check this out!
Onkar Tiwari |
March 10, 2005
hile demand for blue-chip placements remains strong, entrepreneurship today is a viable and exciting alternative.
An extensive support system that has developed around the concept has facilitated this alternative.
An important element of this is the Net, which was once the reason for many entrepreneurial ventures.
Today, it plays a critical, but supplementary, role. Here are some options for you:
To begin with, it helps by providing resources to plan better. The era of the dotcom plan sketched on the tissue paper is over. A plan requesting funding today must have a business model that guarantees profitability.
For these plans, sites like the PWC web site and BPlans offer excellent guidance. They cover areas like operations, financing, strategy analysis, etc.
The PWC site has a financial tilt, while the BPlan site attempts to cross-sell its other products.
For an Indian resource for business planning, check out the Resources section at IndiaCo, a private equity firm.
Incubators and Venture Capital
Making the plan is not enough. Getting it to the people who can help is crucial.
One way is to enter business plan contests that have seen a tremendous upsurge in participation and publicity. They provide instant comparison with others' plans, thus letting the entrepreneur know where s/he stands.
Also, the judges are reputed venture capitalists and corporate honchos who can provide an unrivalled perspective.
While a large number of institutions conduct business plan contests, amongst the most reputed ones are the Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT-Mumbai, which conducts Eureka; and the Center for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIM-Ahmedabad, which holds Anveshan each year.
The downside, of course, is that with such a wide exposure, confidentiality of your plans could be an issue in spite of guarantees offered by organisers.
For those looking to go ahead directly, there are two other options.
First, find an incubator for the venture. Incubators are usually educational institutions that provide office space, equipment and various other support services on a temporary basis to the new firm. A list of the available incubators can be found here.
This starts with the CIIE incubator at IIM-A and lists other incubators available across the country.
Also, contact venture capitalists who have been visiting India in droves. A comprehensive list of venture capitalists can be found at the NASSCOM site.
If everything falls into place and the firm commences operations, one of the first observations is a loss of control.
New firms seldom have systems and processes in place resulting in a chaotic environment at times. Technology can help optimise these resources and bring some order.
One site that deals with this issue is the download section of the ZDNet site, that offers a wide range of business software packages. Some are paid. Others are free. But nearly every aspect of business operations, ranging from book keeping to inventory control, is covered extensively.
Two magazines available freely online that are meant for entrepreneurs and small business are Inc and Fortune Small Business.
Both provide excellent articles on areas like interviews with successful entrepreneurs and are packed with useful tips for small businesses.
The above sites are a useful sample of what is out there on the web. The information they provide can be useful in managing (not eliminating) the high risk associated with entrepreneurial ventures.
Some are also gateways to other good web sites on the topic.
Ultimately, they can help by trying to make the business run better and make forgoing the opportunity of a regular corporate career seem worthwhile.