Postmortems have a certainty that prescriptions don’t. I don’t know a lot of what I say when I started off on the journey, but to bust a few myths of entrepreneurial leadership:
1. There is no perfect personality – tall, short, fair, dark, man, woman, smart or ugly
2. No perfect opportunity – it is a process
3. No perfect education as preparation for the position and/or journey
4. Not science or art – no right answers but hypothesis testing
5. No perfect time – some are born into it, some have it thrust on them and some seize it
6. Pure cognitive intelligence is trumped by non-cognitive soft skills
7. Not fate – two views of history; great times with normal people and normal times with great people
Entrepreneurship is a personal decision about how to live your professional life, which is committing and actively engaging with the process.
Earlier in my journey, I decided to opt out of corporate employment and follow the entrepreneurial path. My main focus was to create an institution that outlives its founders and had strong foundations – after all, if you don’t have a dream, how you will have a dream come true.
Castles (in dreams) are built in the air but need a strong foundation to hold them up. Similarly, building a scalable organisation needs the resources of vision, money and team.
On the vision front, it is not about discovering new lands but seeing the opportunity with a new pair of eyes. Translating the opportunity to an overarching vision statement (ours became ‘putting India to work’– a task that couldn’t have a closure deadline) and mobilising the organisational structures for the same is very important.
It is very essential to have the right amount of funding available to ensure optimal decisions are made at all stages. It always takes more money than one thinks when one starts off on the journey.
Entrepreneurship is a team sport. It is statistically impossible to always have star outliers on board. One has to factor for diversity and craft people ecosystems to have high metabolism, clarity in roles, airing of conflicts and tradeoffs for resolution. Structuring the above to create a focus on strategy and have an action bias enables one to enjoy the entrepreneurial journey. These learnings have held me in good stead.
In closing, over the years have met many unhappy successful employees but I am yet to come across with an unhappy successful entrepreneur.
The writer of this article is Ashok Reddy, Director, Teamlease Services. The views expressed here are personal.