Entrepreneurship Lesson from a Beggar

24th Aug 2012
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Many say entrepreneurship cannot be taught. It is something that is experienced and learnt from life, not something that you learn in a class room. India has long been known for its varied culture and differences in style of working when it comes to startups and businesses. Entrepreneurs are popping up from every corner of the country and some of them are brilliant startups doing really good work. It’s not just the students or the high end CEOs that are innovative all the time. Even the common people from India have been immensely talented ‘jugaad’ (if I may say so) going a long way in entrepreneurship. India is brimming with people who are the best at ‘jugaad’.


My latest trip from Goa has taught me a few things that I never expected to learn from a trip like this. On my way back, the train pulled over in a station and two beggars came in. I rarely give money to the beggars. I give only when I see that they really need the money. This experience was different.These two beggars came in and handed flyers to all of us. They had printed around 15 – 20 of them. The flyer just said, ‘We are poor people and we need your support to survive and live. We respect your time and you so we won’t be begging you for money. We would appreciate any contribution you can make.’ The lower part of the flyers read ‘Please return it back to us so we can use it again.’

This flyer was distributed to everyone and people read it out of sheer curiosity to see what the beggars had given them. I could see the expression on people’s faces. They were impressed by this technique and gladly opened their purses to give some money to the beggars. I quickly pulled out my purse and pulled out a fifty and gave it to them. They had gained some respect in my heart. I would never pay fifty rupees to a beggar but their uniqueness and ‘branding’ if I may say so made me pay them. The beggars didn’t lose their self-respect by begging for money and they didn’t pester me to pay. It was smooth and classy. And financially speaking, they got more than what they would have made using the ‘traditional’ methods of begging. It is innovation, desire and the passion to do something different that drives brands and businesses in India. It may be due to population and so many beggars around but they did make a mark on me and I shall remember them forever.

The startup industry is no different. With so many startups around the corner it seems like a huge mess and it’s very hard to remember some startup’s name and what they are known for. Innovation in this area would work wonders and that’s what every startup must aim for. Branding a startup is as important as the startup itself. A good name in the industry speaks volumes and gives you the respect and position you deserve.

Entrepreneurs are everywhere and you can learn from almost everyone. There are beggars and then there are beggars with traits of entrepreneurship in them. What have we learnt from them?

Author credit: Gaurav Prakash

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