An entrepreneur’s playbook for ‘when the going gets tough’


With the new ‘age of startups’, most of us are fascinated by entrepreneurs and their success stories. But the journey of an entrepreneur is not as glossy as it appears. With a high mortality rate of about 90 percent in the first year of operation, a plethora of startups hit failure even before they see the light of the day.

A series of missteps and mistakes – that’s an entrepreneur's life before the right idea is nailed and hailed by the world. On that path, even though an entrepreneur at times has had to down the shutters, the story of their ‘failure’ itself is an important lesson for every other entrepreneur who aspires to dream and follow their passion to build something from scratch.

To be sure, there is no magic key that can unlock the correct technique to become a ‘successful entrepreneur’, but a series of personal experiences and learnings can be a survival playbook for young entrepreneurs aspiring to prove their mettle.

Is it an undying passion or an unfailing vision that keeps you going, when the going gets tough? Here are a few tips that can help you make this journey easier!

Image: Shutterstock

Be a lifelong learner

A successful entrepreneur never stops learning. While you learn when you fail, you also learn a lot more when you grow. You have to learn-unlearn-relearn things in every single phase to stay above the competition, and learning is not just limited to the core business competence. During the journey of your venture, at times you play the role of an HR, and other times you double down as a marketing expert or people expert.

Keep answering the question of ‘why’ to yourself

Nothing is certain. In umpteen situations of your entrepreneurial journey, things won’t go as planned. Your day-to-day task of building your business might defocus you from your vision. Many times, there will be situations of self-doubt owing to numerous failed tasks. At such time, you need to remember ‘why’ you chose to be an entrepreneur in the first place, and remind yourself about the vision that you have for your business from time to time.

Accept your ‘failure’ and learn

For an entrepreneur, success is the most important thing. But it’s not wrong to fail. At times it is necessary to fail in order to be successful in the long run. Mostly when entrepreneurs fail, they don’t really accept it. Say, ‘Í failed!’, and learn the art of acceptance. Only then will you be able to motivate yourself to try harder. It’s a lesson that needs to be learned from the circumstances you undergo. Reflect and learn from it, and as Mark Cuban rightly said, “It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.”

Work with a cohesive and collaborative attitude

It’s true that it is your business idea, but it’s crucial to remember that it’s not just about you. As much as you lead the journey of your startup, your team is unequivocally part of every crest and trough you go through in that journey. You need to build your team as one cohesive unit which works in a collaborative mode, and that is only possible in a setup that is transparent. “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships,” says Michael Jordan. A business is only successful if the team is united and focused.

Quality is better than qualification

When building a team, chose quality over qualifications. It’s important to understand if an individual will imbibe the team culture, values, and vision of your business. Someone who has a low test score, but great logical thinking capability, may turn out to be more beneficial for your team.

To sum up, as an entrepreneur, you require more than you anticipate. You need to be a perpetual learner who looks for new answers every day, and as Sebastian Thrun, the founder of online education platform Udacity and considered the father of self-driving technology, once said, “Be fearless, be curious, and develop a growth mindset. For those who learn, there is no such thing as a failure.”

Ishan Gupta is Managing Director of Udacity India.

(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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