Entrepreneurship can be learnt and should be taught

20th Apr 2016
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I often need to explain myself when I say that in order to exploit the talent in the country, which is witnessing an unprecedented wave of entrepreneurship, lessons on starting up need to be imparted. I do not subscribe to the notion that one is either born with an ‘entrepreneur gene’ or not. I will tell you why.

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Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mariannebevis/

Yes, you can’t teach someone to leave the comfort of his or her secure job and dive head first into the challenging world of entrepreneurship, but you can teach them how to survive, scale, stay the course, preempt obstacles and think beyond them, and, most importantly, how to take risks, which to most is the core of an entrepreneur's capability. And let me highlight the fact that taking a risk in your entrepreneurial journey without knowing the pitfalls is just foolish behaviour, while taking a risk after deep analysis of the situation is essential and can be definitely taught.

There are a couple of basic things one needs to keep in mind before going all out with a startup. A great idea is a wonderful thing, but without clarity of vision, it will remain just that: a great idea. A structured learning on entrepreneurship can help gain the ability to recognise an opportunity, understand and foresee potential problems and prepare for solutions, while continuing to create value all along the way. When I look around at the current crop of startups, I see them missing out on key elements like product development, team building, financial and legal basics before going to town on their product or service. They fail to understand that when they miss out on these crucial first steps, they are indirectly affecting their long-term prospects.

Training in entrepreneurship can also help you define and crystallise your goals. That’s key to sustain any business in the long run. When, as an entrepreneur, you have not set a specific goal, it becomes more and more difficult to explain your perception and expectations of things to people you wish to hire and inspire. This spells disaster like nothing else.

To be fair, you cannot blame the new-age startup founder for rushing into things, but it does paint the imagery of meteors that hurtle across space at great speed but end up crashing just as spectacularly. India will only achieve its entrepreneurial dream when today’s startups stay the course and become big business houses in the next decade. The media nowadays only focusses on successful founders and their stories, portraying a rosy scene of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This, in turn, makes for confusion, as everyone assumes that these triumphant stories had a very easy road to success, which in reality is far from the truth.

If we want to create a habitat for sustained entrepreneurship in the country, it is imperative to showcase the innumerable failures and non-successful areas of a startup. It is important to come up with platforms wherein budding and aspiring entrepreneurs get clarity of thought and orient their mind to solve problems, because they will face many. They require a network to learn and grow, study to understand how people failed and how they made sure that their failure didn’t mean the end of the road.

Imagine this – you are going to a race where everyone just starts running and then whoever comes first, comes first, versus a disciplined format wherein everybody who is participating gets into a starting gate, where one gets to learn from competitors, study everybody’s strategy and then work on your strengths and weaknesses. Which situation do you think is conducive to growth?

The right guidance is what the entrepreneurs of today need. They need a place that allows them to work out their ideas, without actually having it structured out for them. They need a mentor who leaves them with a lot of questions, rather than full stops. They need a guide who will get them to think, and ask themselves questions they did not dare ask so far. And with a training that provides them all this, Indian entrepreneurs will be unstoppable.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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