Should You Stick To The Rules As An Entrepreneur?

Another founder's success story often becomes the rulebook for others. But should their success set standards for you?
Should You Stick To The Rules As An Entrepreneur?
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Entrepreneur Staff
Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India
4 min read

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As every entrepreneur starts his/her journey into the world of start-ups, advice start pouring in. They start reading books on how successful entrepreneurs have managed to build innovative products that paved the way for the future. They rely on the rules set by visionaries to find the answers to their “how tos”.

Many a times, entrepreneurs blindly follow these paradigms set by their predecessors in the start-up world. Another founder’s success story often becomes the rulebook for others. But should an entrepreneur really stick to the rules set by experts or should they be out there creating their own?

We got in touch with four founders who shared their opinion on whether one should follow the rules and if you don’t, what’s the risk attached to the same.

Innovation Doesn’t Happen if You Stick to the Rules

  • Deep Bajaj, Founder, PeeBuddy

As an entrepreneur, you have to make your own rules. If everyone starts following the set ways (hail a taxi on road/book tickets through an agent / pay only cash) then so many path-breaking inventions (Uber / Make My Trip / Credit cards or Paytm) wouldn't have happened. Someone from these start-ups decided to not follow the set rules.  

The flip side, however, is that it’s the road less travelled, more difficult with few to guide and at times the opportunity cost is too high. In our case who would have thought PeeBuddy, a device using which women can stand & pee, would ever sell in India. We have miles to go but have sold over 750,000 units and have helped so many women fight a real problem. Has this been easy? Absolutely not. Is it worth the opportunity cost - only time will tell.

The Trick Lies in Adaption

  • Nithin Kamath Founder & CEO, Zerodha

In an online world like ours, I think the trick to succeed is to be able to adapt quickly based on the circumstance. That’s the reason why a lot of businesses who are nimble today are able to beat big businesses who are slow to move. But remember, if the decisions taken aren't really as per rules, it is your head which is on the table.

The Real Truth? There Are No Rules

  • Bharat Sethi, Founder PosterGully

There are no rules. This is the biggest truth all successful businessmen will agree to. We are conditioned to believe that there is some authority that guides us what we’re all “supposed” to do in business but it is not real. So many innovators around us would’ve never even started building their business if they’d listened to the rules. In fact, I believe that the more rules an entrepreneur follows, the less likely they are ever to succeed. It doesn’t matter what is the nature of the business; what is important is to build your business your way.

Start-ups are Designed to Disrupt and Break Rules

  • Nitin Motwani, CTO & co-founder,

When it comes to compliance and regulations the rules should be treated as both gospel and law and deviating from them would be a terrible mistake. That aside, every other aspect of the business requires one to be extremely innovative and resourceful and it's very often not possible to stay within the limits of rules when innovating. Start-ups, especially, are designed to disrupt and they necessarily have to break some rules to accomplish disruption

The biggest risks are certainly the legal and compliance related ones. Entrepreneurs are all hungry to innovate and change the way things are done. Often times they let this tendency get the best of them when they don't do enough legal due diligence before releasing new products or implementing new processes. Outlash from market incumbents is another risk that new entrepreneurs will often face when launching disruptive products. Apart from this, sudden changes can often antagonise the company's own partners or at the very least inconvenience them as they could take a very long time to acclimatise to the pace at which start-up entrepreneurs introduce change.

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