Recently, I was on a flight to Bangalore.13 meetings lay ahead in the next days. As I sat thinking about them, a sense of dij` vu came over me. I had made similar concept-selling journeys at least twice in the previous decade. The first was a multi-city visit in 1993 to talk to various hospitals and research institutions to talk about our new image processing software. The second was a visit to Delhi to January 1995 trying to meet various newspapers and magazines to get content for the proposed India website. This time around, it was to seek alliances for our enterprise messaging solution.
As I sat thinking on the flight about the meetings in the next two days, I thought about life of an entrepreneur. There is a joy, a delight in the struggle of a start-up. Maybe it is about the challenge of the unknown, maybe it is the dream of doing something different, maybe it is the silent awareness of the odds of failure and the determination to prove them wrong. Whatever it is, there is an inner thrill which inevitably brings out the best, taking individual performances to levels one had previously thought were not possible.
What I like most is the envisioning of tomorrow and then working to make that happen. It means creating a mental map of the future and seeing new developments as they happen not in isolation but as part of a whole. It also means articulating it in simple enough terms to make it seem achievable in a reasonable time-frame to one’s team.
This vision of tomorrow does not come overnight: it is painstakingly incremental. I live for those moments of epiphany when thinking leaps to a new level. Suddenly, ideas take flight, previously unrelated pieces fit together to move the jigsaw puzzle one step closer to completion and a new simplicity and obviousness emerges.
This is the vision which consumes the entrepreneur, and takes over body and mind. What seems so obvious that it can also blindside. Yet, it is this what fires up that inner passion, that infectious enthusiasm which is the entrepreneur’s greatest asset. It is the belief that one has to just go ahead and build out the future. It is almost like this is what one was born to do.
Yet, an entrepreneur is not necessarily a risk taker, but a risk reducer. Each day at work, the entrepreneur seeks to make decisions to increase the longevity of the business and diminish the risk. And yet, herein lies a paradox. For an entrepreneur, lack of growth (and uncertainty) is like death. When things start becoming too predictable, the challenge ebbs away. It is then time for a new dream, a new vision.