TECH TALK: My Life as an Entrepreneur: Part 4

What is the hardest part about running a small business?

I think the hardest part about running a small business is the need for constant watchfulness and alertness. In a small business, even a small mistake can prove fatal. So, even as when has to consider many aspects of the situation when making a decision, there is a realisation that not everything can be controlled. As in every business, the entrepreneur has to manage both the short-term and the long-term, and at times making the switch can be difficult.

I currently manage a team of 50 in Netcore. While we are past the early start-up phase, the challenge for us is execution. For me, the hard part now is understanding that I have to work with others to ensure that we can make the dream of Emergic of reality. In IndiaWorld, I was very much hands-on with my wife, since we were a very small team (less than twenty people). But now, to make Emergic happen, it will be a much larger team. Already, this is the biggest group that I am managing in my career and it will only get bigger!

So, for me, there is a need to shift focus from vision to execution. I like the strategy and envisioning part, but the need of the hour now is to get the priorities right, get the right people in the right process, and ensure that we can manage the operations right. It is very different from what I have done before. I want to lay the foundation of an organization that is built to last. Managing operations and people is not something I have done a lot of in the past. This is going to have to change. And for this, I will have to personally change. So, at this point of time, perhaps the hardest thing for me in my business is the realisation that in order to build the dream business, I will have to transform myself from the manager of a small business to thinking like a CEO of an organisation that is going to transform computing.

Personal Change is perhaps the hardest I can think of at least twice in my life that I have gone through it. In 1984, when I went to IIT, I underwent a change from a very academically oriented person to one who actively participated in a broad range of cultural activities. Ten years later in 1994, I had to put the failure of my initial venture behind me, and think ahead building a business by envisioning and placing a bet on what tomorrow would be. Now, I have to go past the vision thing, and put in place people, systems and processes to ensure we can execute on our vision. In 1994, I had to prove that I could be a success. Now, in 2004, I have to prove not to the world but to myself that I can build a great organisation and make a deep impact on the world around.

Tomorrow: Part 5

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.