What five years of entrepreneurship taught me !!Sreejith Moolayil
Since my MBA days, I had this strong urge of doing something of my own. Coming from a family of Kerala communists it was natural that that i had initial urge to start something in the nonprofit social sector. Thanks to the library at my first employer #DelphiTVS, I started reading business success stories and for some reason social sector got buried under those books. Till date, I dont enjoy reading Philosophy / Fiction because my reading has always been around real life situations of various entrepreneurs. Among Indian authors, #RashmiBansal has helped me understand the way situations around an entrepreneur's life which evolves in a startup.
When I decided to startup, I had lot of pointers in my mind which I had imbibed from those books to prepare myself for the unknown. Yet there were many situations which came as a surprise, that none of the authors mentioned. I am completing 5 years of being an entrepreneur on 27th April. In a corporate setup, I would have been eligible for a gratuity. But in the world I have chosen, gratuity is the leanings of these 5 years, which will make me fly higher.
Below 5 points are the topmost leanings which none of the startup authors told me, but are equally equally important .
1) Your journey is only yours - There are so many stories to get motivated and many more to feel sad about, neither compare yourself with a failed startup nor a successful one thats rule number one. You must learn from their mistakes but dont compare. The way one is not supposed to compare your kids, each startup is different and cant be compared. Everyone is in the pursuit of making a difference either for himself / investor / customer / public and everyone is right in THEIR path.
2) Dont take for granted the family sacrifices, because of which you are an entrepreneur - One needs to be grateful to the family which allowed you to pursue your dream. Family may rarely complain and give-up on you, but dont take them for granted. Its an entrepreneurs responsibility to think from the families perspective too and correct the course of direction. Let the family not face the pressure of your business in terms of standard of living because one needs peace back home to face the day at workplace.
3) If you used to be stressed before exams, then don't embark on an entrepreneurial journey - Currently there is lot of glamour associated with startups, people get attracted to that and jump. Being an entrepreneur what you will face every day is UNCERTAINTY across everything. It would be in model / in resources / in product / about future etc. You cant pass on that feeling to anyone but your co-founder and still face the world with impeccable confidence of a winner. That is not an easy one unless you are made of steel or is cool as Mr.Dhoni. As I am neither of those, I look at only the brighter side of things.
4) Opportunity cost is the excuse coined by people for giving up or not starting up - I think, this is most overrated word in the ecosystem. Did we think about the time we lost during our first 15 years of school. Why is that time is valued in money post education and not before ? To me journey is meaningful as long as what you are doing today is going to help you tomorrow (Not necessarily in monetary terms). Also believe you are going to be here for eternity and live the moment.
5) Biggest challenge is to win your teams confidence when failures hit you in succession - You might be completely ready for a test game and ready to fight for the next best product/service. But the biggest challenge is to make your best team trust you and stick with you. This becomes even more challenging when you are a non VC funded startup running on shoe string budgets with "ZERO" margin of error.
Above 5 points summarize critical points in my last 5 years and I am pursuing this journey with the confidence that, I will create and nurture something priceless and help making this world a healthier place. The way the old saying goes, it doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Deer, one needs to keep running once sun rises. Lion thinks he is the King and Deer feels sorry seeing the struggle a Lion faces for his 2 square meals. You might have Lion days and Deer days!!
Last five years have taught me to believe that it doesn't matter whether you are a Lion OR a Deer, what matters is what do you think about yourself !!
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