How Entrepreneurial Are You?
Essential beliefs and practices that determine your start-up's success
Excitement and hope are essential parts of an entrepreneur's journey, as are frustration and disappointment. It takes a lot to manage turbulence and stay focused while launching a new venture. For founders, their entrepreneurial mindset serves as a powerful engine that helps them to navigate the ups and downs of their startup’s journey with confidence. Key elements of this mindset are:
Creativity: Child-like curiosity about the world around them keeps entrepreneurs brimming with creative energy and ideas. They challenge the status quo, by asking not just “why?” but also the “why not?” questions. Creative entrepreneurs spend as much time on understanding problems as they do in finding solutions – often resulting in a more holistic and sustainable impact. This mindset nudges the startup to think beyond launching and instead focus on building lasting institutions that add value to society.
Customers First: Successful founders are obsessed with understanding, serving and delighting their customers. Not because that is a sure-shot path to profits, but because they view this as a critical reason for their existence. Such a mindset helps develop a market-driven perspective on the venture - enabling the startup to empathize with customers with an “outside-in” view of their enterprise. Continuous innovation to add value to customers is an essential outcome of this mindset.
Bias for action and learning: A startup’s journey is non-linear and, for the most part, non-deterministic. Rapid movement and constant learning are the only way to maintain reasonable progress towards goals. As stated by Steve Blank, “No plan survives first contact with customers.” Hence, planning supersedes plans, and actions trump desk-analysis in the complex and chaotic world of startups. While the startup may be proficient at introducing innovative solutions in the market, they understand that many of these actions will not bear the desired outcomes. Hence, with humility, they learn, persevere and keep moving ahead.
Values: Effective startups define and live by values that are humane, just and ecologically responsible. Such values help its stakeholders know what the organization stands while guiding strategic decisions and tactical actions. Ethics, trust, and integrity are not just matters of governance but are intrinsic parts of the culture at great startups. Accomplished founders have mastered the art of living with cognitive dissonance as they swiftly think and act on issues that appear to be contradictory.
Talent and Ecosystem Builders: Savvy startup founders are great ecosystem builders. They recognize that their success depends on making many other stakeholders successful. Hence as they grow, they take their employees, communities, partners, and customers along with them. Founders take it upon themselves to instil a deep sense of belonging and pride in the people who work for them. Their teams bring their whole selves to work each day as they commit to the shared vision by their heart and apply their minds to innovate for the future. Great startups create a work culture that is based on mutual respect and trust and encourages empowered leadership and participative decision-making.
With its focus on creativity, perseverance, problem-solving and social influence, an entrepreneurial mindset has become critical for startups as well as professionals in all walks of life. People with this mindset do not just find opportunities - they create them; they produce not just economic outcomes but social impact as well. Armed with this paradigm, individuals can become not only successful entrepreneurs but also highly effective doctors, designers, social activists, engineers, and lawyers.
Ajay Batra is a startup founder, mentor, and an active contributor to the Indian startup ecosystem. Currently, he is Executive Vice President at Venture Fastrack – an initiative of the Wadwani Foundation. He is the Founding Director of Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Bennett University. He also headed Bennett Hatchery – the startup incubator.
He serves on several national committees of FICCI and CII, and is a sought-after jury member for national and international startup competitions like HULT Challenge, CII Startpreneur Awards, Babson Challenge, ET Power of Ideas, Innovation Launchpad, etc. He was the only Indian to be selected for IDEO ’s global program on Design Thinking for Social Impact, and has recently been recognized as Top 10 entrepreneurship contributors in the world by Arist, USA
His next book, “The Startup LaunchBook” (Wiley) is slated for a late 2020 release.