[YS Learn] 6 steps that entrepreneurs can take to embrace an explorer’s mindset

In a masterclass, Vani Kola, Founder and Managing Director, Kalaari Capital, drew parallels between world-famous explorers and startup founders, and the learnings entrepreneurs can glean to adopt an explorer’s mindset.
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An explorer’s mindset helps entrepreneurs retain their innate sense of curiosity and drive. It helps them go back to the basics of why they started their company and what problem they aim to solve.

“Entrepreneurship is the willingness to follow your curiosity,” said Vani Kola, Founder and Managing Partner, Kalaari Capital, in her masterclass on developing an explorer’s mindset. 

Vani Kola, Founder and Managing Director, Kalaari Capital

She drew parallels on what entrepreneurs could learn from different explorers, adding that it was also important to develop an explorer’s mindset to handle and manage crises

Vani detailed out the steps that entrepreneurs can take to embrace an explorer’s mindset. 

Question your assumptions 

Vani said both explorers and entrepreneurs have to operate with several unknowns. New discoveries and innovations can bring in paradigm shifts. The weather, markets, pandemic - there will always be shifts. 

“Be open to change. The trap we can fall into is thinking that our original vision is the only way forward; this can be disastrous,” Vani said. 

Invite data that contradicts beliefs 

Vani spoke about creating an organisational culture where you invite people to share data all the time. This works better if the data contradicts beliefs or focus. 

“This has to be something that you do structurally. Without this, navigating through rough waters or still waters will be difficult. It takes one storm to turn still waters into choppy waves,” Vani said. 

Course-correct quickly, don’t drift

Once you have data that shows something isn’t working as expected, course-correct quickly.

“It is in our nature to delay or postpone uncomfortable things. This is the very urge that we, as entrepreneurs, have to learn how to resist and manage. Don’t drift with the flow; actively control it instead,” Vani said. 

Focus on the vision and the task at hand

Vani explained that while vision is important, it was very easy to get lost in a great vision. It is important for entrepreneurs to be in the trenches on a daily basis

“The vision is like the North Star in the sky that gives you direction, but the focus on the task at hand ensures you move ahead in the right direction. You need to make daily decisions, which have to do with strong execution,” Vani said. 

Always ask ‘why’ before defining ‘what’ and ‘how’ 

It is important to understand the core purpose of why you are doing something, because when there are setbacks the ‘why’ helps in decision making. It helps keep you and your employees focused when you understand the importance. 

Use effective collaboration to bind teams 

Nothing is achieved alone. However brilliant the founder may be, their journey will involve other people. There are different ways in which companies collaborate, but you have to set your leadership style on how you create collaboration within the team. 

“Understand what style works best for you and your organisation. Creating those rituals and structures through which you bind teams and your way of working needs to be clear. The team is what executes your vision,” Vani said. 

While these factors do not guarantee a startup’s success and growth of a startup, they can help any organisation in crisis management. 

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

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