Saturday, 6 October 2012

Entrepreneucide: 3 ways to kill your own business!!

When the economy starts behaving awkwardly, when job cuts and salary delays become a norm, when your work seems to get monotonous and unexciting and when the fire within to prove your worth gets tough to quell, then my dear friend, the time is just perfect for you to head the entrepreneurial way. It is never late to be an entrepreneur and neither is it too early to start your enterprise. You just need to have the hunger within and the passion and conviction for whatever you want to start your business in. 

Beware of the symptoms leading to Entrepreneucide -
an act of killing your own venture mercilessly
In the past 5-6 years, you must have learned a lot from your mistakes; you have also felt as if you have reached the end of the world when your efforts (read: performances) were blown to pieces by your tormenting boss(es). But, my dear friend, there is always a learning in all these and nothing goes in vain.  You learnt how to work on a business proposal by staying awake for 2 nights, you learnt how to make that powerpoint presentation look more slick and fascinating after getting yourself tortured by your boss, you learnt how to stand your ground and negotiate hard with the client, when your job was all that you could have traded off for and you learnt a lot more in order to stay focussed and get the numbers moving. You have finally arrived - you are all set to take the plunge in the world of your own venture. 

But, entrepreneurs have their own setbacks, their own shortcomings, which if not taken care of, are bound to doom him and his venture - he may lead on to an Entrepreneucide (a new word: killing your own entrepreneurial venture). So, take a cautious step forward, as right now you are the one to drive your own destiny without any confirmed paycheck at the end of the month - you are all alone out there, with just your passion, commitment and conviction to stand by you.

So, what are the common mistakes committed by entrepreneurs? Let's take a close look at the top 3:
a) Being rigid and dictatorial: Examples are abundant of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs who have been rigid and dictatorial in nature. While some are open to ideas from people around, there are many out there, who may trash them completely, stamping their authority when it comes to ideation and decision making. Now, that is suicidal. An entrepreneur, no doubt is highly passionate about whatever he is into and probably knows a lot more than many in his line of business, but there are other functionalities in a business, for which he need to depend on professionals who have worked it out in the domain for years. You can have a say in terms of how your product should be like or what should be your target base or what are the kinds of people you want to have in your firm, but there are other strategic decisions related to finance, HR, marketing, production, quality, etc, for which the right man at a senior level should be given the freedom to perform his duty for which he is being paid a fat paycheck. Unfortunately, there are many such duds, who decide to wrap their entrepreneurial venture, even before it has set off, simply because, he thought he was the best mind in every department.

b) Being profit focussed, not value-focussed: An entrepreneurial venture has to be value-focussed. It needs to create and add value for all stakeholders. The value creation need not be in terms of the market capitalisation (remember, all entrepreneurial ventures need not be listed) or the bottom line, but should encompass creation of more jobs, focussing on sustainable income generation for the internal customers (employees), touching the lives of its end consumers (by maintaining high quality standards of the product/service it delivers), creating positive rapport with the media (creating goodwill and positive image), etc. Entrepreneurs who fail to see beyond the commercial realm of business, fail to add value to their stakeholders. This does no good to the entrepreneur or his venture and soon he may decide to wrap up his trade. 

c) Being eccentric and not practical: To be an entrepreneur, one needs to be superlatively creative and eccentric. If someone tells you so, he would be a big fool and he understands nothing of entrepreneurship. Yes, thinking out of the box, or working on a blue ocean strategy, may lead you to start a business with a fantastic idea, but to really establish yourself in this huge world of millions of entrepreneurs - big and small - you need to be practical. Eccentricity, to an extent is fine, but if that's what becomes your mantra, then you end up like that idiot crow in Panchatantra, who wanted to look beautiful and hence decided to put on peacock feathers on its wings. Entrepreneurship is all about practicality. Start with a low profile, put in your heart in the venture, be the person you always used to be and win as many friends as possible. You try to become the crow with peacock feathers, you end up losing friends, you end up being called an eccentric hypocrite. There are many in this world, who, intoxicated with a false sense of deja vu, end up losing focus in their lines of business. You do that, and you are half dead!!

Although I do not claim to be an authority in the current subject, I am open to criticism, flak and 'death threats' from some of those entrepreneurs who would seethe in rage reading about some of the harsh realities that I have quoted here. From my experience as an academician in an institute (which specialises in entrepreneurship), I have been witness to many entrepreneurial ventures (by students and colleagues), which have lost steam due to various reasons - funds, market conditions, etc. But, successful ventures which have hit a rock bottom because of the entrepreneur's intent to commit hara kiri (or Entrepreneucide) have been equally numerous and astoundingly shocking.

I welcome my readers to comment generously in whatever they have found right or wrong in my article, but I am sure this article would be a lesson for many of my students who have set sail in their entrepreneurial journey.


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