A real day in the life of an entrepreneur
Good morning Friends, here starts the day in the life of an entrepreneur or rather a Startup entrepreneur, yes – this title makes it more complete for sure!!
The Alarm snoozes in 10 minutes and I am off the bed – on the dining table sipping tea and gazing through 3-4 newspapers (or rather booklets) – “ha ha”, doing this is a must for a startup entrepreneur who has to look for opportunities for his daily survival – maybe look for funds, tie-ups, partners, prospects etc. So daily reading of the newspaper booklet is a must
While reading I land on a wonderful news item which gives me hope and confidence that my startup will sustain. If a Narayan Murthy can do it after leaving Patni – why can’t I? If Bill Gates a drop-out from Harvard can be an icon, then why can’t I? Before my chest swells anymore – my mobile ring gets me back to reality…
“Hello, Hello who’s this?”
“ Ah...Err…Sir, Sirji am Bharat”
“ Ahh – Bharat who?”
“ Sirji your peon Bharat”
“ Ya ya Bharat bolo – what happened”
“ Sir, actually I fell down from the stairs just now while filling water at my house, won’t be coming to office, sorry”
“Bharat, but man, who will open the office, Hello, man, Hello u there”
– beep beep, the phone goes dead!!!!!
I am now thinking of how to balance between an early morning customer SOS review and opening the office door when Radio Mirchi has the song “Subah Ho Gayi Mamu, Mamu, Mamu” Errr, man – really irritating and a perfect simile to my morning woes!
Thinking on the above problem I hit the bathroom and again, a beep on the mobile!! It’s an SMS from the delivery manager. “Sir – URGENTLY need to rush to home town in Rajasthan, some inevitable issues have cropped up. Will be back in the next 2 days for sure. Once back will discuss!” –this is the death knell for me – I have a customer SOS to tackle plus open the office main door and now the delivery manager falling apart on the day of two customer deliveries – who will tackle it?
With 3 “doosaras”, deadlier than what Murli throws up at batsmen being hurled at me in one go and I standing alone on the pitch without a helmet or leg guard,in search of a stable non-striker to bail the team through, go to the bathroom FINALLY for a shower. But my ears are still straining out with the prayer of NOT HEARING ANY MORE BEEPS OR MOBILE JBUZZES to beautify my morning any further
15 minutes later I am out of the shower with my plans for all the 3 “doosaras”. I call up my respective Team Leads to handle the delivery part. I have decided to manage the customer SOS myself after opening the office door, will delay the customer meet by an hour or so…. Since my morning plans have changed – courtesy to my lovely and very caring office boy and I have to play the peon’s role with utmost dignity and ensure that by any chance I do not reach late just to see the wagging tongue of employees at various levels citing “practice what you preach” if I arrive late, how dare I ask them to be on time?
Rushing to the runway, I mean to my car – Looking as if I was on “Mission Kashmir!” reversed the car in style and hit the road and lo, there was no traffic – this lifted my spirits and got me more confident. Started driving faster and connected to the customer delaying the review and called up a few guys to inform them that the office boy was not turning up and I was gonna open the office main door today – to many people’s discomfort as delivery status will be asked upfront outside the door with no place for them to hide!!!!
I am just about to reach office when I get a call from my hardware support – “sir seems our net is down, the on-site guys can’t access the servers!!” Another “doosra’ or a googly this time round – is it? I tell him calm down; I am just on the main gate and will open the door soon (to the displeasure of many!!)
The Office is opened and I head to the server room. All lights blinking, modems on – where is the problem? Told the support chap to call up customer care and ask, why the net is down and told him to enable the spare line so that work can start!!!
Hush, it seemed I tackled this in style and sat on my desk for another cuppa of tea –tring tring –
“Sir, the ISP says their cheque is unpaid so the internet connection is disconnected, will be enabled on payment of dues.”
How the heck??? I think – how man? I had got the cheque dropped in time – what’s the issue? I get the cheque book out and I dial the customer care (at the back of the mind I know I need to go to the customer review, but – this is also important) I dial and get the most irritating message of today’s mundane world from the ISP support –
“Your call is important to us, all our reps busy on other calls, please wait and we shall attend shortly”
Its 10 mins and I am holding the phone like a fool. I decide to skip the breakfast and tea and again hit the runway to go for the customer review meet which is only 8kms apart but in traffic takes the equivalent time of traveling a 30kms very long and tiring bumpy drive on sexy Mumbai roads!!!
I keep the customer care phone on “hands free” and start driving. After 15 minutes of the same recorded message the operator speaks up. I explain the case to her and she checks and says, “err, is it, how, etc etc.” Says the cheque does not reflect in her system? Will I need to pay cash to start the bloody net here!!! Man, this is crazy stuff – In India people can rely on any thing, just about anything but not these payment drop boxes – It’s like they gobble up our cheques when we need them to go for further processing always!
To handle this ISP beamer I called up my wife, speaking to her in the best way possible!!! My selfish sweet talks early morning fails here and she asks me upfront – “tell me the work!” – I say, one favor – just one favor. Can you deposit Rs 6,000 odd at the ISP office which is next to your office building, I mean – on an SOS basis as my net is down. She says OK and literally bangs the phone down!!! What to do, the full family gets involved with a startup – you see – it’s like up-bringing a baby, you like it or not – you will be involved some way or the other!!!
Spoke to the hardware support that the net connection should be on till lunch, till then to hold fort and manage with the spare line, however slow it might be!! Also told him to fire a letter to the ISP Manager citing this issue and asking an inquiry into the same (Although I know this complaint is just going to fall on deaf ears as this is how our country works but still, for record purpose getting it done)
By then I reach the customer place, it’s already 12 and I am 2 hours late. I meet the Customer Project Manager there and after some initial greetings we start the review. End of the review I have more than 10 Change Requests staring at me for a fixed cost project. If I agree I am sure to end this project in a loss, If I don’t he will say this is common sense and expected from a company like us and all that.., (need to get diplomacy into play here).
I buy time and decide to go back to the office to review with my team and revert professionally. Next, I decide to meet the Accounts in-charge to see the status of my pending dues – prompt comes the answer – Signing Authority on leave, follow up in next 2 days! With Change Requests and no sight of money coming immediately I leave with a stone heart – hoping for the best!!!
It’s already lunch time and I can see the tiffin in front of my eyes but alas, it’s still a long drive before I reach office. Today’s first innings seem to have been tackled. Let’s see what’s in store for the second innings…..With the delivery manager not in place, need to look at the 2 deliveries. I call up the office to find out one Team Lead is stuck in the bank, and has not yet turned up. So both the projects are being seen by the other TL.
Crazy stuff, I call up the 1st TL and tell him to hurry-up or else we will need to work the night. He seems ready for it but man; I will have to slog with him to ensure the delivery in the absence of the manager!! Who thinks about the owner entrepreneur, it’s presumed that all start-up entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs for that matter are born orphans with no social or Jpersonal lives, right???
Its 5 in the evening and I am with the 1st TL, sorting high end server deployment issues with the 1st delivery…the ISP has kept on promising but still the net has not started…the 2nd TL is still stuck in traffic and not sure when he will turn up….Lunch is still waiting for me and I am waiting for lunch
I see no signs of the Office boy coming the next day too, forcing me to come again early morning tomorrow or convince the Admin to come for the …Made wife work today on an SOS basis and am sureJdoor opening honors as my return gift I am going to get no dinner or some “nice dinner” of her liking but not of mine …
There is a weekly project review meeting set for 6 in the evening which I am sure will start late and end late garnished with nice surprises and confusions and discussions and solutions making the plot 10 times more complex & edgier than the TRP 10 plus “Saas Bahu” Soap Operas on the idiot box and so on and so forth….BUT is there a silver lining to this?? What do the readers feel and think?
YES, there is. THERE IS HOPE and on HOPE the entire world survives! Gazing out of my cabin window at 7 in the evening, I also hope to leave for home someday, someday during this time!! Someday I hope to see the evening sun-set….I hope both the TLs will finish the delivery in a bug-free mode….I hope the Office boy returns back to work soon along with the Delivery Manager reducing some of my pressure I hope we click 2 new orders soon and that will do wonders to the company top-line…I hope to handle the morning SOS customers’ change requests smartly and get his new project too…I hope that the ISP starts the connection and traces my lost cheque soon without making me run to the bank helter skelter…I hope to at least reach home by mid-night and have a sound sleep of course WITHOUT ANY FURTHER MOBILE BEEPS AND RINGS and go into a beautiful next day morning…Is it only hope which we Entrepreneurs thrive on, I mean? Is it only HOPE which we survive on, taking us to the next day?
For a start-up, it’s the hope + passion. Passion towards my work, colleagues, customers and all stake holders makes me get up the next day in-spite of the lingering and expected work issues & pressures…Passion is what makes us stay well grounded in-spite of all the start-up woes like a Phoenix who rises from the Ashes!!! Passion is what makes US ENTREPRENUERS DREAM BIG!!
Net to net, the purpose of writing this article is that all Startups or for that matter all entrepreneurs face the above mundane issues day in day out!! It’s our passion and love for the work we are doing that makes us stick around. So guys, don’t lose hope and passion!!
Just don’t give up how much ever the woes and troubles. Like its well said by someone “Your FAITH moves HIM and HE moves the MOUNTAINS” – so guys just stick around and let’s do it. Do not lose hope, faith, confidence and most importantly the passion. Try your level best – leave to GOD the rest.
Like, after having one of the most disastrous days as mentioned above with a series of mis-fortunes or whatever you call it “MY PASSION” does not allow me to call it quits, My mind says “I Am Still Hungry & Still foolish to be here” but my heart says “I JUST LOVE DOING IT, So I WILL DO IT” I Love Being Hungry & Being Foolish in every sense.
Akshay Shah, Founder and COO, I Web Technology Pvt.Ltd