The decision to be or not be an entrepreneur is an intensely personal one. It is one which needs to be discussed and debated with family and friends. It depends on each one’s appetite for risk. There is never a right or wrong answer, just as there is never a right or wrong time. The fundamental decision has to come from within.
I also believe that once the decision is made to leave the world of employment and move to the world of entrepreneurship, the parachute needs to be cut. If we know that there are always the options of going back to the safety and security of the other world, it will be much harder making the entrepreneurial option work. In a sense, as we close one door, other doors will open. But we have to close doors. We have to believe that making the new venture succeed must be akin to a life-and-death battle. One has to fight knowing that there is no looking or going back.
Once the decision is taken, how do we begin? Where do we get that wonderfully innovative idea which can transform the world? The answer is: s-l-o-w-l-y. While it is always possible that one may know exactly the niche to focus on, more often than not, one of two things will happen. The idea itself may take time to crystallise clearly, and the idea may not turn out to be as great as we thought from the other side of the fence. So, just focusing on the idea is not going to be enough.
The most important thing for an entrepreneur is to build a mental model of the industry under consideration. The mental model takes time to form. It is more about internalising the external views, developments and trends. It is the mental model which creates the foundation for the business. Understanding the bigger picture takes time, but is extremely important because of the challenges we will face on a regular basis as we seek to build out our business. Change is continuous and constant. It is the mental model or the latticework of mental models that will help us navigate the terrain, not with maps but with a compass.
There are many ways we can go about building the mental model for the sphere we wish to operate in. Blogging is a great way to begin. By reading what others are writing, reflecting upon their views, and then laying our thinking, we can start the process of developing a unique perspective built on the past of our experience, but embellished by the inputs from many others. Blogging needs consistency. It needs to become not an occasional exercise, but one which is part of every day. This forces a discipline and rigour in the read-think-write-dream chain. It also makes the blog part of the lives of other readers, who can then weigh in with their comments.
I have seen this firsthand with my weblog and writings. It has been nearly four years since I started writing the Tech Talk series (daily, Mon-Fri), and nearly two-and-a-half years since I started the blog. During this period, my own thinking about building out affordable computing solutions for the emerging markets has evolved considerably and it is in no small measure to the positive feedback loop generated by the daily writing.
The blog also works as a great connector I have met many people just via the blog. Various others have met me because the blog has worked as a great way to introduce me more than what any email or vision note can do. The blog is way better than a business card, it is in fact a mirror of ourselves. So, getting your blog underway one that is updated daily should be one of the first steps that needs to be taken in the entrepreneurial journey.
Tomorrow: A Roadmap (continued)