What budding entrepreneurs can learn from their successful counterparts

3rd Apr 2017
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Many budding entrepreneurs encounter failure due to lack of guidance and mentoring. But some of the successful ones who have made it big in the startup league have credited their success to learning from other successful entrepreneurs. 

Entrepreneurship is the buzzword these days if you keep the Indian economy in perspective. In recent years, India has witnessed a tremendous upsurge in the growth of the startup ecosystem, driven by factors such as better avenues for fundraising, adoption of technology, improved financial systems, and a burgeoning domestic economy. ‘Ease of doing business in India’, ‘investor confidence in the Indian market’ and ‘positive startup sentiment’ are dominating discussions these days.

However alluring it may seem to start a business from scratch and nurture it as your own baby, each success comes with its own share of pain and sacrifices. While nobody can take away the fact that loving what you do, doing what you love, and being your own boss gives you a feeling of being on top of the world, there is a lot of bridge burning and risk taking that much come before that pinnacle. That leap of faith has to be taken.

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Budding entrepreneurs are faced with several impending questions when they take the plunge. What all successful entrepreneurs have in common is the steep learning curve to success, with many lessons being learned along the way, and budding entrepreneurs would do well to imbibe their wisdom. Although every business venture has its own share of unique circumstances and challenges, the underlying issues mostly remain the same while starting up.

Here are a few learnings from my entrepreneurial journey and my observations of other successful entrepreneurs.

Are you the one: The foremost thing is to identify whether or not you are fit to be an entrepreneur. Business acumen and enterprising skills come with education and experience but the burning desire to make it big, having that fire in the belly, the spark, and the ability to be comfortable with the concept of ambiguity and taking risks are things that come from deep within and are not possessed by all. The ‘will’ to do it comes from passion’ the ‘how’ to do it is where your education and experience come into play.

Start young: There is no right time, they say. The only time right is ‘Now’! And the younger you start, the better it is as that is the time when opportunity cost and capability ratio are highest in life.

Survive, not win: In the initial phase, the most important thing is to survive, because to win, you need to be alive. If you survive today, you will win eventually. Strive to survive independently and grow in places where you are not contested. Figure out ways to make survival cheap and wins big.

Speed is the key: Speed is the other factor vital for your growth as the speed with which you deliver your product or services is what differentiates you from the rest of the market. In this fast-growing world, being agile is the only way to survive. Nobody wants to be slow.

Differentiate: Create a strong and compelling value proposition for your venture. Identify your target audience and build a product or service that solves some actual problem in that segment. Focus on quality rather than quantity.

Treat failure as a stepping stone to success: You may be a perfectionist and build the best product but if that product or service does not resonate well with your customers, the entire point is lost. Accept that failure is a part of your journey, but accepting and learning from your failures is paramount.

Grab new opportunities: Many new ventures are born out of existing consumer problems, so keep your eyes open for business opportunities at all times. You never know when you’ll bump into one. Necessity is the mother of all invention.

Don’t let the creative spark die: Do what you love and love what you do! Create things. Pursue your hobbies. You don’t always need to have a plan about where it’s going to lead, or be good at it, just as long as you enjoy the process. Many companies are founded accidentally as well. Many Indian startups like Crown It, Knewcleus, Now Ride Or Deliver, and Car Trade were born this way, out of their founders’ personal experiences.

Confidence: Always believe in your own strengths and abilities, no matter what external expectations exist. Believe in yourself and the world will believe in you.

Contribute to society: Many entrepreneurs had started their businesses to help others, and the sense of contribution to society is by itself one of the biggest rewards for them. One entrepreneur said “It’s such a cliché but it comes down to being able to build something from nothing that solves people’s problems. There’s no feeling like it.” Look for opportunities where you can make a positive change in the world whilst developing a profitable business.

Aspiring entrepreneurs should know that every business is an ongoing challenge — learning never stops, and even successful entrepreneurs have self-doubt from time to time. However, successful entrepreneurs put their fear aside and keep moving forward because they know that the rewards far outweigh the fear.

Different things work differently for different entrepreneurs. Some quit their job and start a business to survive. And when those remain the only way out, they put in their 100 percent and they survive as survival instinct comes into play. Some feel cash is king in a startup and they focus on fund-raising. However, some may choose to bootstrap. Also, as an entrepreneur you have to do a lot of things on your own. Being an entrepreneur is about more than just working on your own for a living. You suddenly wear many hats and you have to be an expert at everything, from sales to customer service . . .

(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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