10 things an aspiring entrepreneur must do
Prof Kaustubh Dhargalkar head of InnoWE, the Entrepreneurship Cell of Welingkar Institute from Mumbai lists the 10 things an aspiring entrepreneur must do and offers examples. Illustrations by Uttam Ghosh.
1. Risk taking
We as a society are very risk averse; and that holds back the entrepreneurial potential to unfold itself fully.
Young graduates should learn to free themselves from the fear of the failure and take risks. Faculty members at college should encourage the same among its students.
To unshackle them from the fear of unknown/ failure we must give them projects where they are thrown into situations where they have to think on their feet and conjure up ways of dealing with it and coming out successful.
In one such project given to them, students of this business school were stripped off all the cash and mobile phones and sent out on field for a day.
They were asked to make money by using their communication skills.
Some of the conditions for making money: they cannot steal, beg or borrow money. This project triggered their imagination and each one came up with the most ingenious way of earning money.
One of them helped a small tea stall vendor by selling vada-pavs (popular evening snack) and attracting more customers. He earned about Rs 10 in 2 to 3 hours.
Later, he bought a ticket to travel to Churchgate (a place in town); where he acted as a travel guide to foreign tourists and by the end of the day, he earned an extra 15 dollars.
Another student went to his alma mater, delivered a lecture at the cultural centre of the college on 'How to get through a good business school' and earned Rs 250.
A third guy helped a few students to fill up some forms at one of the colleges where the admissions were on and earned some money in return.
The basis of the assignment was to calculate who earned more money, but to give them a first-hand feel of making money from scratch.
Such assignments not only help aspiring entrepreneurs to overcome the fear of failure but also helps them build their skills from scratch and boosts their confidence in their inherent business skills.
2. Identify opportunities
The aspirants should have a deep sense of identifying business opportunities.
These bring forth several areas where efforts can be invested and later translated into business opportunities.
Considering the same, one of the assignments this school gave its students was to send the students out on field assignments with a brief that read: Identify at least ten main features about a given sector.
During the activity, aspirants are expected to interact with consumers using products by a given sector, know their complaints, if any as to where a given project or service falls short of their expectations.
Some of the sectors explored by aspirants ranged from telecommunication to banking services.
This activity will bring forth several areas where efforts can be invested and later translated into business opportunities.
3. Develop your observation skills
Aspirants should learn to be observant about their surroundings.
You must know what is happening in the lives of people around you. Are they doing something that is helping them meet their specific requirements?
This is an interesting activity as it paves the way for new business ideas, innovation and human centric solutions and in turn will lead to business.
This business school, for instance, conducts a Jugaad Week. The week focusses on how people improvise workable solutions to work through bottle necks they come across in various situations in their day to day lives. These solutions can very well parlay into business propositions.
4. Hands on experience of business
Aspirants should try to acquire a real feel of business and this comes only with genuine participation in some business where they participate in planning, administration, marketing and deal with all other aspects of running or operating a business.
An entrepreneur should be aware of even the minutest detail of the business and this can happen only if they are into it.
For instance, the entrepreneur cell of this B-school has a small area in the campus like a shop called Space Bar.
The shop is provided to students for a day or two where they can run their proposed retail outlet to get a first hand feel of what it takes to run a business.
5. Study the Operations of SMEs
Entrepreneurs who want to start their own business venture, should learn the ropes of the trade by being a part of some SME (Small to Medium Enterprise)s.
They should try picking up a small company, may be with a turnover of Rs 10-15 crores and spend a few months with it.
This would educate them on operational intricacies of small businesses and start-ups.
If they are lucky, they may be mentored by those who are already into the thick of action.
6. Work with start-ups
Aspirants can take up projects and work with start-ups rather than joining large companies.
In fact, start-ups offer better learning and survival strategies for aspiring entrepreneurs.
To help a new company launch a new service is more demanding and challenging and therefore offers productive study in comparison to established ones.
7. Work with people with different skill sets
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, while working on a project, you must choose to work with people with different skill sets.
For instance, a B-school student has the advantage of working with graduates from any technological institute or students from design school or social sciences.
This would definitely earn him a cross disciplinary experience and the multi disciplinary approach combined with opportunities of skill sharing, technical planning has a fairly good potential of culminating into business partnerships at a later stage.
This also inculcates the values of team spirit and soft skills in them.
Such clusters of different skill sets give a different perspective and very productive insights into planning any venture at a later stage.
8. Spend a day with the CEO
Given an opportunity, try to interact with CEOs of different organisations.
If possible, spend a day with them to understand what they do through the day.
Such experiences will give you a better insight into the corporate world and also sharpen your business acumen.
You will also learn how to maneuver through various professional dilemmas while making the right business choices.
9. Visit incubation centres like IITs
Aspirants must be well aware of what's trending in the allied areas of a given sector.
Visiting centres of innovation like the Indian Institutes of Technology and the like will keep them abreast with what is happening in the domain of technology, the research and the ideas being worked upon by their students and professors, etc.
It also enhances their world view and gives them a broader perspective of their respective fields.
10. 3D vision
Aspiring entrepreneurs should learn to do things with their hands along with the cerebral engagements.
Young entrepreneurs should also involve themselves with hands skills along with brainier pursuits -- like product modelling, product demonstration etc. This helps in prototyping and will generate better product ideas.
Also it equips them with three dimensional perspective of a service or product which has a seminal role to play in the planning of any business venture. It also helps in the visualisation of product improvement through prototyping.