“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou
I frequently get questioned on topics related to Startups and Entrepreneurship in various forums and in meetings. The main reason being that I left a good corporate job and took a major risk to become the Co-founder of BHIVE Workspace (currently one of the largest Co-working space in Bangalore with a vibrant, engaged community) at 33 years of age (having a fully dependent family with 2 kids ).
I, hence, wanted to write on this topic, which is close to my heart, based on my personal experiences as well as of other known entrepreneurs, so that people get motivated to follow their dreams and passion for entrepreneurship.
A lot of people dream of becoming famous, rich, powerful, successful and celebrities. Many of them think being an entrepreneur of a startup is the coolest and shortest way to achieve these goals.However, there are a few others who are really passionate about making a difference and therefore enter the startup world.
Irrespective of which of these two categories potential entrepreneurs belongs to, they need to really question themselves – “Am I truly ready for entrepreneurship?”
Below are a few questions and pointers on what one needs to introspect, discuss and find answers for, before taking the plunge.
Q1. Have you evaluated your startup idea?
From your startup idea perspective you need to evaluate few things like:
- Do you firmly believe that your idea, your founding team & your vision will make the company successful?
- Are you addressing a major gap in the market & solving critical problems that would help the society at large?
- Have you validated your idea & pivoted it to check if it is sustainable?
Q2. Are you the right person? Are you Startup ready?
After being sure of your idea, you need to critically introspect about yourself – are you the right person to be an entrepreneur & are you ready to take the startup plunge? From an individual perspective the core skills / qualities required are:
- Perseverance – to achieve your goals passionately with high energy. There might be many demotivating factors. People telling on your face that the idea won’t work, but you need to be logical and take the right set of feedbacks & strive to reach your goals.
- Being a Good Reader – of books, people & situations. You need to regularly read books / good resources to be updated; develop the art of reading people’s minds & their behaviour ; build a mastery in analysing situations & developments to take informed decisions.
- Being highly flexible, multi-skilled & able to make sacrifices in life without repenting. In this journey, are you willing to lose touch with your close friends & relative, forget about long holidays, cut down on expenditure, get your hands dirty to handle any responsibility (even cleaning office floors if needed, before that important client meeting!)
- Leadership skills – need to have exhibited this in different instances & got good feedback and recommendations. Should be able to handle office politics, rumours & negative comments, specially the ones spoken behind your back.
- Having a high level of patience & gratitude. You have to patiently work towards winning the deals & customers. Always be thankful to your employees, vendors & partners, so that they can all be there in your growth story (and during adversities)
- Be confident, think positively & exhibit the right body language publicly – irrespective of any up & downs in your personal / work life.
- Enjoy Working hard and Working Smart – long working hours are inevitable, but can be reduced by working smart with the help of the right team & technology.
- Be a risk taker who can take bold decisions by getting the buy-in from all stakeholders.
- Be a People’s person –one who can build teams; be a job creator, identify the right talent & extract the best from them. Build a fun-filled engaging team, delegating to build future leaders; And yet, have the strength to fire people when appropriate to build the right company culture.
Q3. Is this the right time for you & your family?
At the current juncture of your life, can your family afford to take this risk? It’s not just about your career aspirations but also about your loving family who are dependent on you.
- Check if you have enough resources and savings to manage your life style for the next 1.5-2 years (keeping all needs in mind such as rentals, impending marriage, children’s needs and school fees, outings, emergencies, loan repayments, EMIs, medical bills etc).
- In my case, financial planning was done along with my wife (who is a housewife), to get an assurance that the existing savings were sufficient to manage a decent lifestyle for 2 years.
- Keeping in mind we had a 2.5 yr old daughter & expecting a kid in 2 months’ time, I was clear that this was the right time to be part of the startup journey full-time. Later, I may never become an entrepreneur due to age & growing commitments as the kids grew up.
- Have a few backup plans for contingency situations. If needed can you cut down on the expenses? Will your family be willing to alter their lifestyle depending on the situation?
- At times, you and your family may need to handle doubts and comments from the larger family and close friends’ circle. If you can convince them about your plans, then you can confidently pitch & convince your partners, prospective employees, investors, advisors & all other stakeholders.
- To avoid querries from the larger family and close friends (including my father & relatives), we had not disclosed to many about my quitting the corporate job & starting a new journey. However, taking an informed decision with along with your family & taking them along your journey may solve a majority of the potential issues.
- We have seen many entrepreneurs having a regular job & running their startups after office hours mainly to have that financial backup & to avoid those regular de-motivating society questions. I advise you to keep your backups as long as you can, just in case your startup doesn’t take off.
Q4. Are you ready to start executing, scaling & showing results
After you have evaluated yourself & the startup idea ,then the focus for you & your team should be to fully execute the idea from ground level, while keeping in mind the following factors for better outcome:
- Always stay focused to the vision committed to all your stakeholders (Investors, Team, Family & Society). Regularly update & report to all stakeholders about the company progress.
- Lead with humbleness & gratitude. Do not shy away from smiling & saying that simple ‘Thank you” to everyone you interact with and have taken help from. It can work wonders!
- Take feedback regularly. Get the right mentors & get coached. Learn to improvise continuously.
- Scale your business with baby steps by targeting 10% month-on-month growth (in revenue, tasks completion)
- Boldly face failures; overcome them, learn from your mistakes, but don’t repeat them
- Handle pressure, loneliness & depression – which are inevitable in this journey; but need to be handled with awareness, without losing focus.
- Follow good time management techniques for a better work life balance, as you will always feel time is short. Follow some hobbies & sports regularly with your near & dear ones. Take regular short breaks every quarter to rejuvenate yourself & your thoughts.
- Build a strong HR process & culture, which is often neglected but very crucial for building a global admired company
If you have answered these questions majorly with a yes, then go ahead and give your best shot at entrepreneurship.
Go live your dreams!
This article is adapted from the original blog of the author posted at Linkedin.
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