The different phases in an entrepreneur’s lifeAkhilesh Lahoti
Have you ever had this undeniable urge to quit your job and start something on your own? I have, and I went through the following phases in an exhilarating journey that hurtled me towards starting my own company.
The itching phase
If you ever had the itch to start your own company, you’ll understand what I mean. I have had those moments too, when an idea pops up in your head, an idea so glorious that you get hypnotised by the possibilities, impact and money it can bring in. The illusion is so strong that you can’t wait for another day to take the plunge. This is what I call the 'itching phase'!
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The idea phase
The idea phase is when you settle for an idea and start your homework. You don’t have to quit your full-time job for this. Most people who have been to the itching phase end up here at least once. This is when you get a glimpse of hard reality. When you see those hundred other startups already working on your billion-dollar idea, the challenges involved in building the product, the skills required in making it happen and the risks if it fails to work are many. Most people stop here. I call them 'wantapreneurs' (I was here for a good five years of my life, myself!).
Building the team phase
But those who are not wantapreneurs, move on to the next phase. Here’s when things start “formalising”. You are done with your homework, you know your competitors, your market, your customers, and your Excel sheet is ready with big numbers. Now, all you need is a good co-founder or a developer to make your product. For most of the young entrepreneurs, its relatively easy to find friends who are in the same zone. I say this because when people are young they have higher risk appetite, more ambitious mind and lesser responsibilities (both financial and otherwise). If you are lucky enough, you will manage to find a co-founder who can work on your idea part-time. And if, coincidentally, all the planets and stars align, you may get one full time. This is when you either jump in or step back.
Quitting the job phase
Now comes the time when you have to quit your job. With adrenaline coursing through your veins, you meet your boss and quit your full-time job. It feels awesome... for a month, until your account balance starts dropping. Lucky are the few entrepreneurial wizards who somehow manage to pull off a full-time job alongside starting up.
Building the product phase
You then move on to the product building phase, possibly the most exciting phase of the journey. You are charged up, energetic, ambitious and you can call finally yourself an entrepreneur. You start working on the product, coding and brainstorming through the night, and even a small success makes it all worth it. And when your product comes of age, you release it. Great, you’ve hit your first milestone! You then run around asking your friends to try your product.
Now, if you are again one of those people with the planets and stars on their side, your product may get instant traction. Rest 99.99 percent of the people will start wondering how to market their product. I feel marketing for engineers is like rocket science (unless you work for SpaceX!). The fact that you do not get instant gratification in marketing often makes it feel non-productive. A lot of potentially great startups do not get this right and therefore struggle to find their way up.
Now, if you are successful in getting good traction with a potential of scaling, you are ready to enter the next level — the investment phase.
For the rest, you are in the exact same situation as you were when you got through your IIT or IIM examination and felt everything will now be sorted. I am still exploring this phase of my entrepreneurial journey and will be happy to share further insights once I am through it.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)