5 Rules to Make it Big
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
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I saw the Indian IT industry grow since its infancy. I left a secure job to join HCL, then refused stability at HCL to start PCL, growing with every winning and losing bet. As each one should chart their own way to success – here are the five things that I did my way.
1. Don't limit your learnings to classrooms
Applications of the knowledge gained inside the classrooms can only be learnt outside them. My first lessons on entrepreneurship came from Chhedi and Sadhu, during my IIT days. Chhedi had a small tea shop outside the campus and Sadhu ran a make-shift stall tucked away under the staircase of RP Hall. They taught me - customers come first and a bond with your customers is paramount. It is not only people, but also situations, as banal as they might be, give you learnings for a lifetime. The roots of my strong performance orientation lay in my involvement with the Spring Fest and the hall competitions at IIT. In the midst of winning and heart-wrenching losses, I picked up invaluable lessons on project management; delivering when it mattered the most, the value in rolling up one’s sleeves and doing the smallest of tasks with perfection.
2. Think big and do big
What if, you perform a high jump without the pole? You might never come to know whether you have jumped 5ft or 10ft, but you should always try to jump as high as possible. Same rules should be applied when you are setting goals for yourself. When I bagged the $50 million Dell contract for PCL, it was by far the largest hardware export contract that any Indian company could manage to acquire in the 1990s. It shook the industry from its deeply entrenched belief that Indian companies were incapable of manufacturing electronics that stood up to the quality demands of the western world.
3. Be passionate about whatever you do
Your passion should be so contagious that even the people you are talking too, about your wildest aspirations, start believing in them with the same conviction. After I stepped down from PCL, the Managing Director of Webel Nandan Bhattacharya asked me to set up a software company in a 10,000 sqft floor of a building. I looked into his eyes and immediately responded, “This is too small for me. I would like to have the whole building.” Eventually, I was able to convince the state government’s top officials on how this building would change the face of IT in Bengal. Thus, Infinity – the first IT Park – was born.
4. Always look for opportunities to bridge gaps in the society
An entrepreneur should be able to identify the existing gap. Life can go on with it. But, it would be so much better if it could be bridged. By the 90s, India started ferrying its best talents to the US and the UK and there was a spurt of institutes that trained graduates in IT, including programming techniques. I clung to my view that mass training unsupported by appropriate pedagogical interventions diluted the essence of creating truly ‘industry ready’ professionals and set up India’s first and perhaps the only software finishing school.
5. Never stop taking risks
As clichéd as it might sound, I always tell youngsters, ‘entrepreneurs thrive on risks to reap the rewards’. When the 2000s bubble burst had happened, computer professionals had suddenly found themselves on the streets. I had to let some of my most brilliant people go. It was then that I thought about adding a floor to our campus to create more classrooms, even though the existing ones were sitting empty. It was a maddening thought. In September 2002, I launched India’s first corporate business school. Since then, the dark clouds over our heads were showing signs of abating. Your journey as an entrepreneur will face tornados after the initial twilight phase. You should believe in yourself and your team to ride it, to come out stronger and more successful.
YOUR PASSION SHOULD BE SO CONTAGIOUS THAT EVEN THE PEOPLE YOU ARE TALKING TO, ABOUT YOUR WILDEST ASPIRATIONS, START BELIEVING IN THEM WITH THE SAME CONVICTION.