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TECH TALK: An Entrepreneurs Attributes: Compass Thinking Charting the Course

November 18th, 2003 · No Comments

When we embark on a journey, the normal course of action is to equip oneself with a map. But what if the terrain one we were going across was uncharted and no maps were available? All one has as a guide then are the stars and ones inner intuitions. This describes the path the entrepreneur needs to traverse. An entrepreneur must learn to travel with a compass, knowing only the general direction.

It is not all that difficult. When one starts, all paths seems to be headed to the destination or to nowhere. This is where the trial-and-error process starts. The entrepreneur needs to start looking around, making short forays, developing a sense of the surroundings, being alert to the environment around. Over time, the entrepreneur will develop the appropriate antennae which will work as the compass for going forward in the right direction.

It is not an easy process, and this is where most enthusiastic travellers fail. The first few steps are always the hardest be it for a child, or for an entrepreneur. But it is these steps that mark the beginning of the journey. Many falter when faced with neighbourhoods which seem to all look the same and no guide posts to help traverse these new worlds. This is the first hurdle that the entrepreneur must cross it needs a mindset change more than anything else.

When I decided to embark on a project with Atanu Dey and others to transform rural India, we had no idea where to go. But as the months have passed (and it has only been six months), the clouds have slowly lifted and the beautiful landscape is becoming clearer. The destination is still far away, but the pathways are becoming visible. We still have to make many choices, but at least we have options now. In retrospect, perhaps the most important decision we made was to begin the journey. In a sense, that is also the hardest decision because it is so much easier to just let the status quo persist.

This is a point I also tell friends who ask me about their desire to become an entrepreneur. Most have been in challenging jobs through their work life, where they were part of a system and machinery which propelled them forward. Days faded to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. One had to do nothing to keep on the treadmill. In most cases, the fear is that of the unknown operating in a world without maps. This is the phobia that one has to conquer if one has to become an entrepreneur. Try it and see the difference. After all, it is the entrepreneur that is the cartographer of this new world which is only in the minds eye.

For inspiration, one needs to look no further than JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson. Tolkien imagined the world of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings to an amazing level of detail. Jackson went ahead and recreated the world on screen with an accuracy which would perhaps have made Tolkien proud. This is the can do it spirit that an entrepreneur needs to have.

Tomorrow: Multitasking


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