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In the second part of this series -- which was launched by Ranjit Shastri last month -- on entrepreneurship and issues related to it, Mohit Goyal of the Indian Angel Network discusses issues that most startups have to grapple with.
Mohit, an IIT-Madras alumnus, has over 30 years of experience in the IT industry. He has co-founded two companies: IIS Infotech, which was later acquired by Xansa Plc, UK and Scicom Technologies. Over to Mohit.
There is so much material on entrepreneurship available that it is now being taught in a manner reminiscent of the way the science of management is taught. However, as one moves backwards in the history of an enterprise and towards its genesis, this science aspect substantially weakens (though there will always be the 'science' relating to the process one follows to validate one's proposition) and other softer issues predominate.
Here, I want to dwell on some of the latter, often underestimated, issues.
The Push and Pull factors
Be introspective about your motive to become an entrepreneur. I have met many company executives who want to branch off on their own because they are frustrated in their current positions. This is the 'Push' factor; be wary of it.
Then there are the very successful executives, who are happy to give up their cozy perks to pursue a compelling idea. That's the 'Pull' factor; succumb to it! (Of course, think through all the other issues but you get the point).
The 'Push' factor has the danger of pushing you from the frying pan into the fire. If you find you have the 'Push' factor, try and evolve that into a 'Pull' by thinking through various ideas and plans until one becomes compelling in its own right. In this respect, a 'Push' factor can be a healthy trigger for an entrepreneur.
Aim to be the best possible in whatever you do
Dream Big. This may sound like a motherhood statement but the advice stems from the spread and acceptance of entrepreneurship in our society. Is it far fetched to conceive that soon entrepreneurship may evolve into a kind of 'career of choice' where ambitions may be restricted to taking one's idea 'just far enough' to enable one make 'just enough' money?
If so, it is likely that one will make none. Dreaming Big for success will never be something that only our pioneering entrepreneurs needed to do in their days. Some aspects of entrepreneurship may change and ease up, but never Dreaming Big.
Partnership helps in the beginning
Try and alleviate the inevitable loneliness a promoter feels at the genesis stage. I am a great believer that having partners at this stage is a great help; not least in developing a more realistic business plan, during which process the hard questions can get better addressed and the promoter group's compatibility better assessed.
The transitioning of a competent, compatible and complementary promoter group from the genesis stage to startup is music to an Angel VC's ear. On the other hand a Big Idea conceived by an individual and sought to be executed by her/him with her/his employee management team creates its own risks.
Trust your gut feeling
Lastly, wait for that instinctive feeling that 'the time is ripe and it is now.' Do not burn all your bridges till you reach that point. Do not set a timetable that forces you to take your leap 'on or before' a particular date.
They say the harder you work the luckier you get. To this I would add, 'and more likely your instincts will be correct.' If you have worked hard on your gameplan and have done all your preparations, trust your instincts.
Here's an analogy that golfers may relate to -- you have driven the ball 250 yards and pitched it 80 yards to within 6 ft of the hole. Now is the time to pause, take your time and gently swing your putter only when you are ready; rush and you are likely to lose the hole -- and all your hard work would be in vain.
Yet, all said and done, many, like me, feel that the genesis period is one with the highest level of creativity, where there are no boundaries or stakes to restrict your thinking.
Angel investors like me derive much pleasure from vicariously participating with startup entrepreneurs in this creative process and, hopefully, adding value to their gameplans, and not just funds.
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