Are you forming an idea to start your own business? Or maybe you’ve already started?
Allow me to congratulate you on choosing a path few people take. There is nothing more exciting than having your own little mission to solve problems with an approach that no one has even thought of yet. Founding and leading such a startup might be challenging, yet it is extremely satisfying.
Who’s a perfect founder?
Who can be a founder? and who is a “perfect” founder? The current startup frenzy pitches many traits of a “perfect” founder. Startup magazines and blogs romanticise this perception, probably a bit too much.
While it’s flattering, I’ve to tell you that every entrepreneurial journey is different. There is no mould or trait that guarantees success. Entrepreneurs come from diverse backgrounds, with varied set of skills, and their own unique approach to deal with problems.What they all have in common is a great idea, which serves as the core of a startup. This idea dictates everything, even success or failure.
That is exactly why successful entrepreneurs advocate evaluating and testing the idea at a smaller scale before investing anything. If it solves problems, generates interest and works exactly how you expected, it’s then only a matter of getting the right talent onboard, delegating smartly, perseverance and patience to succeed.
During the journey, it is also critical to analyze that all the founders are in it for the right reasons. This is where it is important to break some of the typical myths floating around.
Don’t let the myths of the industry confuse you or your team. Some of the key ones are as follows.
Myth#1- You work for yourself. You are your own boss.
Really? With that attitude, you are bound to fail as a founder and entrepreneur. You are not working just for yourself at any point. Successful teams do not function that way. You work for employees who joined trusting you and stick with you despite other options. You work for customers who paid money trusting you for trying the new offering and promises you’ve made. You work for investors who trusted you with their money. You work to make it better for them, every single day.
You know that these are goals to reach the destination, but, during the journey you should be flexible enough to take up any challenge. You might end up switching roles (Admin, Sales Calls, Customer Support Calls, Installation Field Engineer, Test engineer, … whatever it takes to fill the gap that exist, till you find a better person). You work on whatever your company needs you.
If it is freedom and working for self that you look for, seek out an ideal job, be a subject-matter expert, non-founding employee. Entrepreneurship is not for you. It’s a guaranteed failure with that attitude.
Myth#2- It’s all about taking risk.
No, it’s not. It’s all about minimizing risks and having confidence in self; and willingness to work hard to mitigate those risks that define the particular enterprise idea. You do that by building and attracting the right team, bringing the talent, vision and ability to see an opportunity to do something better or newer.
If there is a 1% chance of success and, everything else remaining equal, you can make it a 30% chance of success, based on capabilities you can build, there is a business model and an opportunity.
So, really entrepreneurship, at the core, is about risk mitigation and doing it better than others; building what in MBA terms is called “Sustainable Competitive Advantage”.
If you really want to take lots of risks, go to Vegas and gamble when feeling lucky. Business is all about true risk mitigation and not risk taking. Knowing the risk mitigation steps and working hard at it consistently, is what is needed for entrepreneurship.
Myth#3- It’s all about making lots of money.
Think about it. If you do a “Probability of Success and Time Value of Money” combined with “how much money one can make potentially as Entrepreneur vs. Employee”, employment might trump entrepreneurship any day; especially for qualified professionals.
If you get into leadership roles as an employee, the money you make in most cases may be more than the best-case exit scenario of most startups. So, it’s not just about making lots of money. Though it is a goal, it is not only about that.
It’s the glory associated with making something out of nothing and creating a machinery of product development, continuous innovation, distribution systems, partners, paying customers & building teams of employees and then seeing it grow is what I think brings the greatest thrill, more than money.
Money is not everything. However, without money as a key part of the goal there is nothing and it’s not business. But if it is only getting rich which is the objective, then a corporate path and continuous investment of part of the earnings, can be as lucrative or better and more risk free too.
Myth#4- Founders are always positive.
This might not be entirely wrong but founders panic too and panic more often than other employees. They are not immune to moments of disbelief. “Oh hell! Why am I doing what I’m doing?!” happens once in a while.
What will you do at those points? How an entrepreneur consistently overcomes this state, by holding onto that goal and working hard to achieve it, is what defines a founder mentality, more than any magical inherent positive nature they always have.
There is no key to fighting negative thoughts. Founders come in with different DNAs and in different shapes and sizes. They are not any special breed; but it’s the constant positive reinforcement that overcomes negative thoughts, to keep doing what they are doing. They need external help too for this and lots of times, reinforcement from their own team members and employees.
No matter what you’re trying to achieve, keep your focus on why you started it all in the first place. The problem you are solving and how it will disrupt an industry or the world, is the core focus that must never be lost.
In the end, every founder’s journey is going to be different. However, shepherding new-age digital companies requires “everyday excellence’ in design, engineering, project management, completing projects and satisfying clients while offering value-added services.
There is no ready made guide and recipe for managing all of it. That’s what separates founders from everyone else; they are eager to solve problems.
Also read this article and watch this film about Bootstrapped Startups featuring Indusface
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