“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” says an African proverb.
My journey as an entrepreneur began due to compelling circumstances. We witnessed several incidents that led us to identify a certain prevalent issue in our country, which spurred a strong urge to address it.
We realised that the availability and accessibility of standardized Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in India was erratic and there was a desperate need for organized and professional ambulance providers. Thus began our journey to create a world-class ambulance service in India, a first of its kind.
Over the years, this journey of my venture has shaped my career and me into a distinct identity, one that will resonate with many entrepreneurs and start-up founders. The following are the key lessons I have learnt through this wonderful and ongoing entrepreneurial sojourn of mine:
Importance of Self-belief in One’s Entrepreneurial Venture
One of the most fundamental aspects of entrepreneurship is self-belief in one’s idea. If one lacks belief in oneself, not many people will believe in one’s business idea either. Not everyone may share the same vision as you do, however what is crucial is the conviction you have in yourself.
It is equally critical that self-belief be backed by reality and practicality.It is best to supplement your belief with credible market research or some sort of factual reality.
At the end of the day, your business venture must aim to solve a problem. If there is problem, then there will surely be an opportunity, but if there is mass negation to this idea, then it is important to go back to the drawing board and work on it, tweak it around a little bit.
Oftentimes, the initial ideas will not be the same as what you eventually implement. While you may have thought of A or B, the end product turns out to be C, which is a result of prudent market survey analysis whilst working around your original concept.
Aspects an Entrepreneur Should Have in Place While Venturing Out
Willingness to take risks
A vital aspect of being an entrepreneur is the ability and willingness to take a risk. Entrepreneurship is not easy; there will be highs and lows. When one starts from scratch, there could be times that one may not have money to pay even your monthly bills, when you have to open and close the office, even be the operator. It is the willingness to take these challenges head-on that is significant.
Burning Desire to Succeed
This is the main difference between someone who does a job and someone who has their own business.
Unless and until entrepreneurs do not possessafierce desire and passion to do something on their own, their business will not be able to sustain itself. Instead, they may just go back to doing a job, where they know that this is their role, this is what they have to do and this is the money they will get. They indulge in a life of sheer complacence and mediocrity.
To stress pertinently on this point, I always take the example of a conceiving a baby.When a child is conceived, it takes 9 months of labor and endurance to deliver a beautiful baby at the end of it. Starting a business from scratch is exactly like that. You need to be patient with it.
Your idea may be great, but it may not necessarily succeed in the first few months. You may have to get people involved in it, tweak it and make changes to it, but you have to give it time for it to show its true colors. Patience is also imperative while dealing with employees, stakeholders, even yourself.
Typically, when an idea is discussed around, oftentimes it generates much unwarranted and unwelcomed advice. The point here is to be clear on what the purpose of your idea is, based on market reality. You have to stand your ground and constantly back your idea with consolidated feasibility.
You have to make it work. This factor also stands while seeking funding for your venture. Several potential investorsmay not completely comprehend your concept and decline your idea immediately.The key here is to be tenacious enough to reappear before them, this time better prepared with your homework done and try another approach of convincing them. Persistence means never giving up and going back and achieving what you have in mind.
Important Lessons That Have Helped Me Evolve Through Time
While building a business and working with a team, a lot of things work on trust. It is a basic factor for any work environment. While trust among all in the company is essential, it should always be constantly validated with substantial facts and figures. It would be unwise to place blind or unconditional trust on something which does not bear appropriate results or fruition.
Another aspect on the verification of trust is to have all matters documented. Having important elements of running the business, profit sharing, capital investments, demarcation and bifurcation of responsibilities must all be well recorded.
There must be crystal clarity on each employees’ scope of work. Usually, in the case of start-ups, it is difficult to allocate a certain territory to a certain person as there will be an overlap in work.
These kinks are usually smoothened out in due course; hence it is advisable to revisit your documented roles every few months or on a quarterly basis.
Another lesson is that of engaging in a professional relationship with friends, which is asensitive rope to tread on. An equation of friendship and a working business relationship are two ends of the same spectrum. It is important to understand each one’s strengths and weaknesses.
If this basic understanding is missing, it can create issues at a later point. At the end of the day, business with partners is like a marriage. You are with your spouse from 7:00 PM to 10:00 am but spend most of your waking hours with your business partner. The compatibility, understanding and mental wavelength of partners is chief in creating a healthy business environment.
Lastly, and I cannot stress enough onthis -networking! Nowadays, with the initiation of peer-to-peer platforms that expand an entrepreneur’s network, entrepreneurs are benefitted not only professionally, but also personally.
They help realize the necessity to be out there in the public eye and talking about your story — you never know who can help you how!For a person who is just starting out, it is very important to go out and network, talk about your ideas, issues and goals.You never know where the answer may come from.
Why Peer-to-peer Platforms
I became part of this unique peer-to-peer platform in 2009 and was put in a Trust Group with 9 other like-minded entrepreneurs.When I look back today, I realize I am now a better entrepreneur, person, wife, mother and daughter. This internal evolution that has taken place is credited to the support system that has been built around me, facilitated by the peer-to-peer platform.
We exchange anecdotes and antidotes of trying situations that have either been or are being faced by other members. We have the benefit of learning from those who have been around the block and witnessed a fortunate amount of success.
By watching them closely and listening to their experiences and tips, I have come to realise many chief factors that I may not have noticed otherwise. Today I realize that it is okay to have problems, that every business has its fair share of challenges and that these challenges will pass.
What is central is how to deal with different situations at work, how to deal with challenging employees, how to say no, how to balance family and work life and most importantly - how to love yourself. You are the most important person in your business. Everything starts with you, so you cannot afford to ignore yourself.
At the peer-to-peer platform, although we started as colleagues and shared a professional bond,we have now become friends and confidantes. This is not just restricted to our own trust group, but the whole platform by itself. It serves as an ecosystem where entrepreneurs realise that they are not alone in this journey.
We all have a work life and a family life and have a responsibility in both lives. What we also need is a let-out life.While at work you are the boss and running the business,at home you are running the house. Peer-to-peer platforms provide a “let-out”, or an outlet for grievances for entrepreneurs.During moments of discomfort or confusion, you can simply reach out to a fellow member and have a genuine conversation of all that is bothering you.
Companies provide training programs that allow employees to learn the ropes of the its working style. However,for an entrepreneur, the onus is on oneself to train and guide himself / herself through situations. This is where peer-to-peer platforms come to the rescue. They ensure you comfort and guidance, and safeguard the fact that as long as they are around, you will never walk alone.