Exactly two years ago, I was thinking about becoming rich with my first startup. We were reaching out to potential customers for our half-baked product. But my startup did not take off, and I moved on to my next venture.
A new world of entrepreneurship opened up for me. I learned great things from my co-founder and mentors. We consciously denied the idea of external funding for our startup. To bring in some extra cash, I started working with more startups as a freelance marketer.
Entrepreneurship has changed my lifestyle and thought process significantly.
Failure is part of life (startup failure is not my failure)
There is nothing wrong with failing as long as you learn from the failure and improve yourself. I did not leave the startup ground even after losing money and time in my first startup.
I joined another startup as a co-founder. The product was ready, and I took the ownership of marketing. In a few months, we achieved the metrics that investors wanted to see, and we were ready for funding.
We had awesome mentors and access to investors. The investors were impressed with the traction, product, and the team. Yet, we could not raise money. Why? Because we did not want to change our product the way investors wanted us to.
The investors were right because it was their money. We were right because it was our product. The deal fell through.
No regrets. Our spirits were still high. In our view, our startup was successful, but to the world it was a failure. We realized that what we wanted to change in education was not scalable. We did not want to become another company selling marks and ranks to students. We moved on.
Entrepreneurship & money
Entrepreneurship is a way of living. You can be an entrepreneur or an employee. You can either set your own rules or follow the rules of your employer.
If you are a startup founder and your investor board is setting rules for you then you are losing the spirit of entrepreneurship. You are no different than an employee who keeps doing his f*cking job in fear of losing the monthly salary.
If money is more important than the purpose of starting up your dream company, you are still in the rat race. In a corporate job, the race is about promotions and annual raises. In startups, the race is about funding. Where is the difference in the way of living?
Money is an essential part of life and business. But you have to come out of the race. A rat is still a rat even if he comes first.
I decided not to be part of the race. I am still working with startups and enjoying my life.
Adopting the culture of giving
“You keep on giving to the world without any expectation. The universe will take care of you,” I learned from my mentors.
I am taking baby steps and embracing the culture of giving. I am part of a project unKarma.in where we offer content writing as a contribution to all kind of projects that are trying to make the world a better place. We decided to drop the price tag and write content based on the gift economy.
Watch this video (Nipun Mehta - Designing For Generosity)
Healthy food, sleep, and meditation
I never cared so much about sleep and food in my life. I am a foodie, I love to sleep for long hours and occasionally meditate.
I am still doing the same things but in a conscious manner. I am living around people who are more aware of their food and lifestyle. I see that now people are discarding the idea of consuming fast food, sugar, and packaged food. People are shifting more towards organic food, natural sweeteners like jaggery/honey, and fresh food.
I have never been a morning person, but entrepreneurship life changed my whole lifestyle. Now, I have to sleep by 9:00 pm to wake up early in the morning (so that I can sleep for at least eight hours). I am still not regular in keeping up with my meditation, but I am trying to get on the track. A right mix of food, sleep, and meditation can keep you healthy and vibrant.
Un-schooling for my son
A totally new dimension of education opened up for me after meeting people who are not sending their kids to traditional schools. I only dreamed of a system where children have the freedom to explore without any burden of books and exams.
People in south India and abroad are more aware of the un-schooling concept than our north Indian parents.
“Un-schooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.” - Wikipedia
I was determined to set my son free from schooling. I came to know about coVeda, a school in Chandigarh, that is based on integral education and un-schooling principals. I am glad to be part of the community of un-schooling parents.
40 percent time for earning money, 60 percent time for self-discovery
I could have never learned this concept without having failed in my startups. My mentor suggested that I devote more time to self-development and limit my time in ‘hunting’ for money (more than required).
It worked for me. I selectively take paid work that can be finished in 40 percent of my working time. I just have to make sure that I am earning my living. Rest of the time I spend in reading, learning, and writing that gives me happiness (sometimes I get paid for that as well).
I don’t like the concept of saving money all my life to die rich. No, you should plan your financial life and save enough to take care of your living after you stop earning. That does not mean that you live like a machine all your life. You work from 9-to-6…ahh sorry 9-to-9 and still do not enjoy your life.
“Saving up for retirement by living a miserable life is like saving up sex for your old age.”
Alternatively, we should take mini-retirements a couple of times in our entire life. It does not look feasible at first, but it is doable. If the memorable times of your life are less than 10, then you should re-think the purpose of your life.
You will figure out how to take mini-retirement every year. Retirement does not mean that you should not work; it just means that you work whenever you want.
I experienced my first mini-retirement when I took a vacation of one month to live in Goa. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay while working in my available time.
A conscious way of living
The overall lesson is to live consciously. You should do everything in your life with a sense of responsibility. Nobody has to preach you for eating healthy food, producing less garbage, and taking care of your surroundings. A little more awareness will bring more honesty in your personal and business dealings. You will love people around you and people will love you back.