4. Need to Stay Alive long enough to aim for Gold
No business is a 100-metre sprint. To win the marathon, entrepreneurs need to ensure first that they can last the distance. To keep running, it is important to survive. What is needed is that once the space has been defined, it is important to “jump in” and keep swimming. Opportunities will become visible when one is looking for them. The longer one survives, the greater the chances of longer-term success. There is an important lesson to be learnt from the dotcom bust in the past 2 years: while everyone realized the opportunity that lay ahead as Internet penetration and usage increases, most went in for a “big bang” approach in the near-term and spent a lot of money in the process. Those who preserved the cash now realize that there is much less competition to contend with as others have simply burnt out.
5. An entrepreneur’s greatest strength is Passion
Entrepreneurs are dream-sellers. They have a vision of how tomorrow can be different and better, something which is not so obvious to others. In doing so, they have to convince non-believers and nay-sayers. They have to build a team and get customers, battling odds at every stage. In doing so, perhaps their greatest asset is the “infectious enthusiasm”, their passion for what tomorrow can be. This is where the ability to have a clear vision and tell the story – with conviction — becomes very important.
6. Be prepared to fail – and learn; Experiment and Explore
Failure comes with the territory. Failure is more likely than success. An entrepreneur will face more down-days than up-days. What is important in this is to keep learning. Embedding learnability in oneself and one’s people is what will set apart the winners. To fail and learn means one has to take risks, one has to experiment and explore. It is only through this iterative process that the good ideas will bubble up. There is nothing like “The Next Big Thing”. These phrases might sound great for a marketing campaign, but as an entrepreneur, the next big thing is more likely to be a series of innovations, small incremental changes.
7. When building, don’t think of exit; Build to Keep
Too often, entrepreneurs think of exit strategies (IPOs and MAs) even as the business is being built. This is the wrong approach. Build a business to keep, to manage forever. The business has to be something which makes you wake up every morning with excitement. One has to feel that the business can provide that joy – only then should one consider starting up. Exit Strategies and Wealth Creation are incidental and not controllable by the entrepreneur. The business must be like your baby – one that you will raise and nurture.