TECH TALK: My Life as an Entrepreneur: Part 3

How did you learn how to set up a business? Are you self-educated? Did you have any formal schooling or a really good mentor?

I learnt business from two sources: my father and my failures. My father has been an entrepreneur since the early 1970s. Unlike me, he has done a wide variety of things from consulting to construction to owning a marble factory and an edible oils factory. While he never managed to build any into a really large business, it was very instructive to see him making efforts. He never gave up. He always believed in the power of knowledge. In 1983, he invested a significant portion of his earnings into buying a computer even though he has never learnt to use it! That computer changed my life from wanting to be a civil engineer like him, I decided then that I wanted to become a computer engineer. He always had subscriptions to most of the international magazines even though they were quite expensive.

When I left for the US, my father told me one thing that I never forgot and which governed my stay in the US: I came back in the mid-1960s from the US after my education and working for a couple of years. You should do the same. So, the decision to return to India was made even before I went to the US.

Even as I floundered in my early ventures, my father let me make the mistakes. He did give me advice, but never insisted that I follow it. His belief was that the only way I will learn is on my own. And that is why failures in my life have been the second teacher.

During the period 1992-94 immediately after my return to India, I did a lot of things wrong. It is actually hard to realise that one is doing things wrong. Only later did I realise my mistakes. But for me, that was my real education in the real world. At times, I have felt the lack of a formal management education, but then I feel that it is the real world which is the best teacher.

Even now, I have a more philosophical approach to failure. I accept failure and learning as part of the process. I also believe that there is a good reason why things happen even though the reason may not be obvious then. One has to always look at the brighter side of things as an entrepreneur.

Do you have a normal job, or do you survive solely off of the income derived from your business? If you have a job, would you ever consider leaving it to only work on your business?

I dont have a normal job. My entrepreneurial venture is my job! My only work experience was in the US at NYNEX.

In your business do you have any partners? If so, what do you think is the most effective way for partners to resolve conflicts and make good decisions?

At present, there are no partners in Netcore. I do have a strong management team, so most decisions are made in consultation with them.

My view on partners is that there has to be one person who has to have the final say in case of conflict. Equal partnerships can paralyse a business and decision-making. There has to be one person in charge.

Tomorrow: Part 4

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Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.