I have spent quite some time emphasising the need to build the right mental models for the industry we are choosing to operate in. I have not discussed the importance of specific ideas. There is a good reason for this.
I believe that mental models are more permanent in the sense, that they help us place events as they happen in context, and provide the framework for our decisions. They are not constant they must keep evolving. Ideas, on the other hand, are ephemeral. They come and go. It is dangerous to start a new business of the basis of a single idea. Every idea needs the foundation of a mental model to stand a chance of being successful.
In an entrepreneurial venture, it is rare for the first idea to be successful. What we will find is that the first idea is just the key which unlocks the doors to a new kingdom where more doors await us. Think of the first business idea as an alarm clock it’s only purpose is to wake us up to the new dawn. How we live the day is up to each of us.
The transition from employee to entrepreneur is also a shift in mindsets. What we will realise when we do decide to make that switch is that we will start seeing the same world very differently. We no longer have blinkers on. The lens we use now is one where we know that each mistake could be fatal for our fledgling journey. We will find a heightened sense of observation. It is like finding oneself in a forest. Either we hunt or are hunted down. We will find survival instincts that we never thought we had coming to the fore. The game is now afoot!
Much of what I have written in this series is easier said than done. It is hard work. It is different work. But that is also the fun part of it. It is not something that every one enjoys and that is perhaps why there are more employees than entrepreneurs. To each his own. Once you make the decision of being an entrepreneur, don’t look back. Success and failure are but two sides of the same coin. Focus on the journey.
I remember the summer of 1986. I had just completed two years of my undergrad at IIT-Bombay. That was the time I made the decision to go on Himankan, a two-week odyssey through the Himalayas. I had never done any significant trekking before that. I worried first about whether I would manage what if I become tired and could not walk more. I worried about the food I’d have to eat. (Those who have cooked dinner for me or gone out with me will realise how difficult I am to please!) I worried about not having an exit route I’d have to go through the entire trek as a whole. But I decided that the experience of Himankan was more important I had heard others talk about it. So, I decided to go ahead.
It was a tough journey. But once the initial decision was made the first steps taken there was no looking back. Yes, it was tiring. Yes, I hated the food. Yes, there were times when I wished I was back home sleeping in my comfortable bed. But, when I saw the breathtaking beauty around, when I walked for hours with my own thoughts on snow-capped peaks and through the greenest of valleys, when at the end of a long day I chatted with people I had only a passing acquaintance with prior to the trek even though we lived barely a few rooms apart all of this was a life-transforming experience.
That is what entrepreneurship is about. Give it a try at least once in your life. Things will never be the same again. Whether it is a successful venture that results from it or memories of things that could have been been, it is an experience that is unforgettable. Best of luck!