The term Serial Entrepreneur is a point of pride right now for the Indian Startup ecosystem. The phrase ‘It ain’t my first rodeo’ suggests that you had past failures or success stories to substantiate that. Research shows that more often than not, serial entrepreneurs are likely to be overoptimistic after failures. From my personal experience, I can say that we are ‘hopelessly’ optimistic. It is also said that serial entrepreneurs statistically pose a risk to investors who fund their ideas and their optimism to believe that their idea would work. My reaction to this is – Tell me who doesn’t pose a risk?
‘Keep looking forward because thinking about the past failure is going to be the death of you,’ you often hear serial entrepreneurs say. That being said, the question everyone asks is ‘What is the right way of looking at serial entrepreneurship? Am I a serial entrepreneur material?’ That is why I would like to lay down a few aspects that would help any budding risk taker know what to expect if he/she is on the way of becoming a serial entrepreneur and take an informed decision in life. Business is messy and chaotic. It is best to navigate your way through the attitudinal complexities that are bound to come your way.
1. Failure is not optional. Learning from mistakes is:
In 2007, I started JobeeHive.com which received good user traction but after two years we shut down because we couldn’t monetise the portal. I was on the verge of bankruptcy but soon I was hired as the CEO of a Canadian MNC to lead their company. It was an epiphany for me because I realised that there was no such thing as absolute failure. Had I not taken the risks to follow my dream and start my own company, I would never have been given an opportunity to become a professional CEO of an MNC at an age of 27. I started looking at failures as necessary stepping stones to success and used them as experiments to make myself better.
In business, failure is guaranteed. One way or the other you are going to face it. But a good serial entrepreneur or a businessman will learn from the mistakes rather than ignore or just be saddened by them. When I looked back on what went wrong with JobeeHive.com, I realised we hadn’t focused on how to make money! So this was the lesson learned for the rest of my life—whatever business I start in the future, I will first look at how to make money and build a strong revenue and profit creating model.
The bottom line – when you fail, get hurt, bleed but learn from it and never commit the same mistake twice!
2.Introspect. Deconstruct what went wrong:
When I was a teenager, impatience was my vice and perhaps for good, who knows. I had so many ideas and I wanted to execute them all at once! I wanted to be ‘cool’ and I would drop things midway to do something else whenever a small failure or a setback came my way. It took a long time for me to realise that to build something of significance, one needs tremendous patience and perseverance. Rome was not built in a day and its rightly said so.
On the other hand, had I not been fickle minded and tried so many things, I would never have found my passions and what I love—in my case entrepreneurship and storytelling. So, being shameless and experimenting is the only way to find what you truly would like to do for the rest of your life.
Further, the key is to deconstruct what went wrong in your last venture and identify the points that need work. Ideas come in plenty and entrepreneurs start out the ventures looking out for growth opportunities. But unless you break down integral data from past failures & successes alike and pin point key growth markers, it is difficult to lay down strong foundations for what lies ahead. This is the key reason why plenty of start-ups reach their choking points soon enough. Which is why it is crucial to mould yourself to certainty with constant introspection and figuring out your next move. Remember, your company starts with ‘you.’ Your weaknesses become your company’s weaknesses and your strengths its strengths.
3. Due diligence:
Doing your due diligence assigns faith in your investors, your core team, your employees and your customers. Entrepreneurs are known to have inhibited fervour and a burning passion to reach their goals. This is what keeps them weightless when faced with obstacles and even failures. But a strategic approach to preparing your business model and calculating an healthy growth rate always works in your favour because then the investors have no reason to blame you if you stick to the plan. The key is to keep it simple, flexible and clear.
4. Keep your success to failure ratio in check:
Keep your past success as a gauge to your future predictions. Investors will do the same and so should you. The importance of ability over experience is what helps the investor decide in your favour. It’s paramount to keep in mind that there is no such thing as absolute failure. But there needs to be a balance between success and failure where you constantly strive to keep the scale tipped in favour of the former.
A 2009 Harvard Business School study of venture-backed start-ups found that previously successful entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed in a subsequent venture. This sounds logical, but remember a failure tells you how not to screw up things and keeps you grounded to ‘mother earth.’
Bottom line – cherish the journey, embrace both success and failures with equal fervour. But always play to win.
5. If you follow your passion, the world will follow yours!
Never back down! I have kept this point well after all of the ones above for the sole reason that without the rest, this attitude is going to be meaningless. Thoughtless business ventures are more likely to turn into misadventures and are going to cut your entrepreneurial journey short. Especially when you start crossing your mid-twenties and enter the thirties.
Yet any idea that gives you sleepless nights and refuses to let go of you, is worth a shot. You need to do something about it, try it, test it, atleast discuss it with your friends and colleagues. Who knows it could be the next billion dollar idea that could rock the planet.
A serial entrepreneur’s passion is to convert ideas into reality, build products and enterprise he/she loves and holds close to heart and in the process creates value and wealth for all the stakeholders in the ecosystem. We are different beasts, who never take no for an answer, never give up or give in, care a damn about failures or fears. We are adventurers!
If you have decided to become a serial entrepreneur, welcome aboard! It’s going to be a rocky ride but the world will be your oyster. It’s time for you to change the world.