What I learnt in 10 years as an entrepreneur
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Past 11 years at MeGo changed my life. After coming back to India from US in search of becoming an entrepreneur, I definitely found more than what I was expecting. Now, when I am moving on from MeGo to start a new journey, I thought I could pen down some of my learnings here.
I found that the journey of entrepreneurship is not as romantic as they say. But it is definitely more fulfilling and more rewarding than what I had imagined!
You find support in places, people and situations you never expect. You also experience let-downs and betrayals from corners, which you thought were your safe places. But the thing I learnt is you should believe in yourself and keep powering through.
I found that failure is the norm, at least in the initial few years, but it is also a ladder, to success. Continuous struggle pulls you down, you suffer, but if you keep trying, it keeps making you stronger.
I found that the journey of an entrepreneur is a continuously changing one and also quite exploratory. There is absolutely no room for any comfort zone. I learnt that the best way to manage the uncertainty, is to make friends with it, embrace it.
I had thought that entrepreneurship is about taking big risks. But I found that it is more important to know when to take the right risks and when not to take the wrong risks.
I had thought that as an entrepreneur, you being the leader, can shape the life of so many people, your employees. It is true no doubt, but it is only half the story. Your employees, subordinates and colleagues also shape your life, as an entrepreneur. They shape your life when they work exceedingly hard for you, day-in day-out, to solve difficult problems for you; when they stand with the company during tougher times; when they reject better offers from outside to keep working with you; all because they believe in something and that they have seen that something in you.
"Entrepreneurship is about passion, not money", was what I had read, heard, but what I found and experienced was there is really no passion without money. May not be true in very early stages, but steady and predictable cashflow is the most important thing after a startup starts hiring regularly. But later in my journey, I felt that money is just a tool. A very crucial tool, no doubt, but that's about it. More important for an entrepreneur is the driving force, or passion, something, which makes you push just that one bit harder than everyone else, everyday. Money comes and goes, passion stays with you as long as you believe!
What kind of entrepreneur are you? Are you good at spotting problems? Good at designing creative solutions? Good at managing people? Good at engineering / technical / scientific aspects? Good at selling? Good at administration? Good at jugaad? I found that in the entrepreneurial journey, at some point in time, one needs to find an answer to this question. As the company grows, people change, customers change, work changes and roles change. It is important that the entrepreneur keeps assuming the right role at the right time in the company. Being mindful of one's limitations is also extremely important, I found out. If not, unrealistic decisions are taken leading to disastrous consequences. Limitations could come from any aspect of life - one's professional skills & capabilities, geographic location, situations in personal & family life, anything. Being an entrepreneur is also about being in tune with one's life.
Lastly, I also found that entrepreneurship, or running your business, is only one part of your life. It need not be an all-consuming thing. I'd even go to the extent of saying that making it a life-consuming thing is not sustainable, at all! It is extremely important to make time for your family & friends, to go on vacations, to eat well, to exercise everyday and to sleep well. Hard-work doesn't guarantee entrepreneurial success, smart work does. For staying smart one needs to stay fresh, and of course stay alive!