From a Job to the First Entrepreneurial Step - Sanjay Anandaram

By Sanjay Anandaram|9th Dec 2011
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“I just told my partner that I’d decided to quit. He laughed it off, saying I needed a break. I repeated what I’d said. This time, he saw the look on my face and half-laughed, half-asked if I was serious. He appeared shocked and surprised and said there was no way I could leave. He then tried to cajole and persuade me to rethink, hoping to make me realize the folly of my decision. Where would I go, where could I go, he wondered after I’d spent almost 14years with him in various ventures.I had spent the last 6years growing and establishing this particular company. When he asked me to take over the company it was struggling, all of Rs 20million in size and losing money. The company had grown 15 times with me as CEO over the last 6 years when I took over, grew and established the company. I guided the company through tough times, in an industry where cut-throat competition and all kinds of unsavoury practices were the norm. I tried to professionalise the company with training and leadership development programmes. I focused on customer service as the differentiator for my company as our industry was known for making promises that were rarely kept. I built relationships with industry players, educated employees on the technological changes, on the importance of project execution and on keeping commitments. Today, my company is well known and well regarded in its segment. I never for a moment that it wasn’t my company. I was so emotionally wedded to it.

I realize now that it wasn’t my company. Ever. I wasn’t on the board. I held no shares of the company. I received a salary and an occasional bonus. I was an employee. Not a partner. But I always thought that I was partnering my friend - my brother’s classmate – over the past 14years. But clearly he never thought the same of me. Over the past 18 months, when I was facing serious challenges in the running of the company, he wasn’t around to support me either financially or emotionally. When I needed money to bring in more professionals into the company, to invest in marketing and technology he told me to manage with what I had. I got customer advances and collected pending receivables using my relationships to manage. He was taking money out of this company to fund some other ventures of his. Unfortunately, some of these ventures weren’t panning out and he continued to invest in them while his flagship company – the one I had helped build – was fast losing momentum. I tried speaking with him many times over the past several months but he was always busy or pre-occupied.

Finally I told him I was leaving. I’m now 40 and want to create something that I can leave behind as a legacy. If I don’t do it now, I never will.

He kept pushing me to tell him what I’d do outside this company. Would I be joining competition? A MNC? Was it money? He would pay me more, he said. I told him I wasn’t interested and that I was still finalizing plans. He then started becoming emotional, how could I do this to him after so many years? That I was ungrateful and that without his support I’d be nothing. He then switched gears and almost threatened me saying that he’d see that no one else hired me. That I’d realize how hard life could be outside the comfort zone of the company.

I’ve decided to become an entrepreneur. If I could build value for someone else, I can certainly do it for myself.

My partner (boss? Employer?) then pleaded with me to stay till he found a replacement. He’s planned on relocating to this city so that he could take care of this company after my exit in June 2012.

I’ve promised him that I wouldn’t leave him in a lurch. That after my official departure next year, I’d still be available in case he needed some trouble-shooting or hand-holding during the period of transition.

After so many years, it is very hard to leave something I’ve created almost from scratch. It is very emotional. In spite of realizing my situation. Being on my own is scary but I’m confident as well.

Should I have stayed back and helped? I’m doing the right thing, no?”

This is a true tale of conflict and turmoil that people face when leaving a job . What do you think?

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