I have an interesting story to share with you. Today, I accompanied my nephew in his car to reach my office from where I am presently laying groundwork for my first entrepreneurial venture.
Since I recently resigned from my full-time engagement with a software development firm, my nephew out of curiosity, asked me about my future plans.
“Well, what’s your Business Idea?” “What’s your Business Vision?” And,” what’s your Business Plan?”
My Business Idea! My Business Vision!! My Business Plan!!!
These are all very glamorous and exciting terminologies of kicking off a new venture. (Interestingly, this was one of the most obvious questions which I have frequently been asked since I quit my job to begin my entrepreneurial experiments … :))
I was clueless… Almost dumbfounded. I was virtually vulnerable with such volleys.
As usual, I started groping for words while defining my future plans…consultancy services, development of Information products, affiliate marketing, content marketing, social media products…blah…blah…blah…!!!
He started smiling…and let me tell you my nephew is a graduate from one of the most revered technical institutes of India and presently working at a very senior position in India’s premier IT company. He asked me about my business vision, and I was truly at loss of words….
Somewhere, while going through his cryptic questions, I was thinking had I made a wrong decision to chart out my own course of action. Had I done something terribly wrong by listening to my inner voice that’s been nudging me to venture into the world of entrepreneurship.
Should I call my yet-to- start entrepreneurial journey an over-ambitious adventure? Frankly speaking, I found myself in the trap of initial jitters of an entrepreneur. Let me remind you that feeling of uncertainty can wreak havoc on future plans. “What ifs” can shake one’s self-belief.
Nothing very concrete. Never participated in any boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs. I have never attended a graduate course such as Stanford’s the Lean LaunchPad that was there to teach startup entrepreneurship. No glamorous idea……no mentoring…no VCs backing, investing in my idea…. as such not even a working partner, though my search is on, and there are a few better partnership prospects. But, fingers are crossed at least for the time being.
However, my good sense prevailed. Somewhere, I believe that these initial jitters are a manifestation of my passion, and I should harness the energy to keep moving forward. I know that I am not a person born with confidence. But, this trait I will nurture by taking daily steps to fight my own inner demons.
There is certain wisdom about entrepreneurship that only comes from doing it. I started recollecting the insightful inputs I had collected and kept you posted while reading “The Lean Startup “by Eric Ries, who says, “ the fundamental goal of entrepreneurship is to engage in organization building under conditions of extreme uncertainty, its most vital function is learning.”
My choice of venturing out is not out of some eureka moment ….no…it’s not an option by choice…but it’s a result of some sort of calculated risk, I am glamorizing it by calling it a futuristic decision.
Why is it a futuristic decision?
At late 40s, if I don’t chalk out my own course of action, I am soon going to be redundant. Very few and far options are left for me in the job market. Several factors, I think, conspired to push me down an entrepreneurial path. (“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” Thanks Paulo Coelho :))
So, left with a Hobson’s choice, I started to explore possibilities….
Frankly speaking, my transition must be a temporary one, a time-bound exercise, where I am in search of a scalable and repeatable business model. Thanks Steve Blank for giving me reasons to have faith in my endeavours. Steve says, “My formal definition of a startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable and repeatable business model. Yet if you’ve founded a company you know that regardless of any formal definition, startups are inherently pure chaos.”
Steve Blank further adds, “As a founder, keeping your company alive requires you to think creatively and independently because more often than not, conditions on the ground will change so rapidly that any original well-thought-out plan quickly becomes irrelevant.” (Must Read: Articles on Lean Startups )
Being an entrepreneur is not any run-of- the-mill stuff. Am I really ready to take on the steep learning curve and practical problems of running an independent venture, forcing my brain to fire on all cylinders?
Running a company is distinctly different from simply having operating experience in development, sales or marketing. None of that can compare with being the CEO of a startup. A CEO’s responsibilities, especially in a startup, include operations, marketing, strategy, financing, creation of company culture, human resources, hiring, firing, compliance with safety regulations, sales, PR, etc. Precisely, all falls on the CEO’s shoulders.
And, what about Business Plan and Business Model?
Since I am applying Steve theories to my entrepreneurial experiments, it’s better to have his reflections on Business Plan and Business Model; he says, “Entrepreneurs treat a business plan, once written as a final collection of facts. Once completed you don’t often hear about people rewriting their plan. Instead it is treated as the culmination of everything they know and believe. It’s static. In contrast, a business model is designed to be rapidly changed to reflect what you find outside the building in talking to customers. It’s dynamic…”
“Business plans are quite useful. The writing exercise forces you to think through all parts of your business. Putting together the financial model forces you to think about how to build a profitable business. But you just discovered that as smart as you and your team are, there were no facts inside your apartment. Unless you have tested the assumptions in your business model first, outside the building, your business plan is just creative writing.”
I am working on the development of a website with my minimal resources, almost bootstrapping, which will eventually be extended to a portal, if my business model works. And, I also have some ideas for how to grow and expand the site in the short term.
My father used to say a quote often to me, “Birds of a feather flock together”. In my younger years, I didn’t get the depth of this age-old saying, but now I understand its true meaning. In this trying period, people like me who are on an entrepreneurial journey, need to flock together with people, going through the same daily cycles of fear and frustration. So I have managed a working engagement with one of my colleagues, who has ventured out a year back.
Let me tell you a Big Truth that I I’m no longer intimidated by what I don’t know. I can learn what I have to when I need to. I am taking my chance of inventing something, my own little baby, a web product, which will implement at a later stage certain disruptive technology (?).
And, let me remind you, technology, as used in by Clayton Christensen in his seminal book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (Read: “The Innovator’s Dilemma: Insightful Inputs), “means the process by which an organization transforms labor, capital, materials, and information into products and services of greater value. All firms have technologies.”
So blame it on Clayton Christensen, Steve Blank and Eric Ries, If I ever fail in my entrepreneurial journey. And the final wisdom nugget: Entrepreneurship is a journey..it never ends…