Choose your shade of grey: Busting 5 “mistakes” you think you’re making as an entrepreneur

On World Entrepreneurs’ Day, Shashank Kumar, Co-founder and CTO of Razorpay, recounts his own experiences, experiments, and decisions as an entrepreneur, busting ‘mistakes’ you think you are making.
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In the words of Albert Einstein, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”.

Choosing to become an entrepreneur and the decisions you need to take that come alongside this journey has the potential to make or break you. Some can even make you believe that you are making a grave “mistake”.

Over the years, I have realised that there’s no perfect formula to doing the “right” thing. There’s only been lots of experimenting, risk-taking, failing but rising up every single time.

You’ll never be “ready” and that’s OK.

There will never be a right time or age; you do it because you want to and are excited enough to solve a problem. All you have to do is take the leap of faith.

I look back at the days when Razorpay was just a by-product of brainstorming sessions between Harshil — who was just out of college — and I while enjoying my high-flyer life in the US.

We kept deliberating the idea for over a year. But one fine day, Harshil quit his job when he didn’t have to (although he was the tougher one to convince and very sceptical initially). If he hadn’t taken this drastic step, we wouldn't have founded Razorpay in 2014; it would have dragged further.

And even then, everyone told us we are late to the market.

Be naïve about challenges and possible failures

If you know about them earlier, you’d start questioning your capability and wonder if you can handle those challenges.

Don’t know how many of you know but Harshil and I had zero background in financial services. We graduated with degrees in mechanical and computer science engineering and hardly anticipated the challenges we would face stepping into a fintech space.

The only question we asked ourselves was — “Why isn’t anybody solving the payment problem?” It was only when we hit the ground running, the complexities of the system started to unravel. By then it was too late to pull back and we decided to move forward and give it our all, and today we’re glad that we never quit.

Don’t look for external validation

Forget about funding; bootstrap your startup instead. Razorpay was bootstrapped for almost a year before we raised external funds. We focused on getting our offerings and strategy right in the first few months. It’s important to spend time perfecting your offering and investors will come by.

Trust your gut, place trust in your business and treat funding as a means to scale, and not validate your business model.

Wear the badge of a societal rebel with pride

There will only be a handful of people who’d support your decision of dismissing the possibility of landing high-salaried jobs after graduating from a reputed institute.

It is okay to accept that not many, at times even your own family members and relatives may not understand your passion or business idea.

Overconfidence is not a bad thing; being cocky is

Although always considered a negative attribute, overconfidence breeds determination and it powers your undeterred drive to succeed.

There’s a fine line between thinking “my way is the right way” and “it’s the only way” and more often than not, it is a strong conviction that pushes you to try harder.

The most successful entrepreneurs have stumbled in their journeys and that’s absolutely okay. What truly matters is to keep an open mind, be persistent and learn from failures. What matters is that you have a problem at hand that you are passionate about solving — that gets you excited and keeps you going.

So, if you’ve been thinking when to put that idea into action, now is the time.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(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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