When I watched the movie 3 Idiots, I fondly recalled my IIT Delhi days. But this article is not about 3 Idiots, or about my hostel life. It is about entrepreneurship – and I remember the dialogue that the hero’s father says when he is born – “Mera beta engineer banega!”I wish the word engineer changes to entrepreneur!
As an entrepreneur, we have to face various challenges. There are issues relating to investors, customers, employees, competition, marketing, business plan etc. which start before your venture does, and continue forever. There is a lot that is talked and written about the business aspects, but that’s not the only thing in entrepreneurship – it is also about the environment around you.
There are various people and situations you must have come across in your entrepreneurial journey, and I am sharing a few of below:
There are no parents who will say the magic words to you, “go, be an entrepreneur”, and justifiably so. Parents are protective of their children, and entrepreneurship by its very nature is risky. Most parents want their kids to take up a nice cushy job, and are satisfied once they have taken their kids to that level. However, things are changing. Parents are more aware of the needs of their children, and want them not go through their schools and colleges as if it were a factory. When I shared my plans to start a venture with my mother, the first reaction was, “If you need money, we can take home loan against our property”. That situation never came, but that one line keeps me inspired every day.
Note – please share your plans to start a business with your parents. They have done a lot to give you a good education, get you to a good job or get you married, and it would be selfish not to share your dreams and desire with them. But yes, do not expect an instant “just do it” from them!
2. Your Husband/Wife)
My married friends (and even bachelors with girl/boyfriends) will be able to understand that once you start a company, it becomes like “your second other half”. It is natural that your partner will not approve of your decision to start, especially if you have an already set regular job – and the range of actions can vary from active resistance, passive resistance, indifference, passive support to active support!
Note – for entrepreneurs, there will always be a situation like the above or similar, and the best you can do is to communicate and talk it out. You don’t want to be in a venture that is successful at the cost of seeing a sad partner every evening!
Friends are of all nature, and depending on your equation with them, they can be supportive or protective. I personally got great support from few close friends, (I am incubated at my friends’ office in Mumbai) and it would have been very tough to survive without them. Along the way, I also realized the difference between friends and so-called friends (who just talk but do not help). There have been few people who criticized my plans, but that too was an input to my business.
Note – there would be few people who would like to join your venture when you share your entrepreneurial dreams with them – just be practical rather than emotional before saying a yes or no.
I fondly remember the first reaction of my relative, “Business? Why? Onida ne nikaal diya kya?” (Onida was my employer before I started my venture). I have heard similar stories from my other entrepreneur friends, and I am sure once we make a difference and come on the cover page of TIME/FORBES etc. they will be the first to recognize us and take pride.
Note – there will be relatives on either side of entrepreneurship – for/against, it depends on which side you want to be and what you wish to learn from them.
As far as society is concerned, there are lot of things happening – media recognizing small entrepreneurs as the next engine of economic growth, students and colleges promoting entrepreneurship, large companies putting more faith in small companies for their orders, government supporting early stage ventures actively and increase in networking/mentoring events across the nation. Some aspects which still worry me are appreciating a failed entrepreneur (at least they tried), including entrepreneurship education as a subject in schools etc.
Hopefully, we will grow as a society where every individual will try his hand on entrepreneurship at least once. And then the parents will not be hesitant to say, “Mera beta entrepreneur banega”.
Amit Grover is an individual with a passion for entrepreneurship. He is an IIT Delhi and IIM Indore alumnus and had previously worked with Infosys, Asian Paints and Onida, in various roles of software, sales, marketing and finance. He is the founder of Nurture Talent Academy, India's first institute for training entrepreneurs, and has conducted over 60 workshops across 17 cities attended by 900 participants. He is also a member of Mumbai Angels, India's premium group of angel investors and has led 30 early stage deals in last 4 years.