It was around this time 10 years ago that I decided to quit my job as a Member of Technical Staff at NYNEX in White Plains in the US and take the plunge into being an entrepreneur. I informed my then boss a few weeks later and quit in early Dec 1991. In May 1992, I returned to India – for good.
In the past decade, I have tried my hands at various things: outsourced software development in India (1992), developing an imaging product for doctors and metallurgists (1993-1994), creating a multimedia database platform (1993), doing software projects for Indian companies (1994), launching India’s first portal and web services company (1994 onwards) and developing an enterprise messaging solution for corporates (1998 onwards). Each business has been like one of those fractal images: look within and more sub-businesses can be seen.
There have been successes and failures in each of these businesses, perhaps more downs than ups. As I look back over the last 10 years, one realization strikes me: that as an entrepreneur, the journey is what one has to like more than reaching the destination. An entrepreneur may not have a final point in mind, only a general direction. It is this uncertainty which one has to live with and enjoy.
Each day is so unlike the other and yet so similar. In what has become almost a ritual, one makes a list of “Things To Do” daily. And then one reaches office. There are fires to be fought, unexpected eventualities to be managed, things to be salvaged. As the day nears its end, one looks back to the nearly untouched list of To-Dos and tries to attend to as many of those as possible. This is what an entrepreneur must like and thrive on.
Every new business has a failure rate of something like 99.99%. This means that 1 in 10,000 new businesses actually succeeds. Yet, ask entrepreneur about their odds of success, and you will hear figures ranging from 50-70%. If there is one quality all entrepreneurs have in plenty, it is optimism!
Running a new business is like a game of chess: one small mistake could be the last. Almost like a body’s immune system, it is this realisation that death is but an instant away which brings out the best in the entrepreneur.