of the week!!
I am very happy to see more people starting their own. But, I wonder if there is a ‘trend’ happening among the 20-something generation in Kerala, especially engineering college students/graduates/drop-outs to jump in to entrepreneurship without due diligence .
Seems like the youth mistook starting up a business for another ‘hot’ trend in the market. They assemble their friends, find a ‘cool business idea’, register a domain and voila!- without giving a second thought about what it could do to their life, their families and people around them.
Just few years back, it was really tough to convince a normal middle-class Kerala parent to start a company. But, because of immense media attention (or hype in simple words) and government backing to startup incubators and the startups/founders, I doubt some parents also started to believe that starting up is easy and ‘not that bad after all’. Their kid may build a successful company, make some cool millions and get a good value in the wedding market! So even though these parents don’t understand what their kids are going to do actually, they give them a green signal.
So, I think it is a high time to educate these youngsters about where they are heading to and what they can expect down the road. I hope it would help at-least some of these youngsters to save themselves from taking a wrong turn in their life due to their ignorance.
This is my third year as an entrepreneur and I must say it was never been an easy ride. And I’ve learned few lessons every first time entrepreneur should know before starting up. There are hundreds, but I am rounding-off to the 10 most critical points. Here you go:
- Startup= Business=Profit. Everything else is secondary.
- Startup is NOT for everyone. It is SUPER TOUGH. Most people can’t withstand the entrepreneurial roller coaster. Almost all startups look prettier outside and uglier inside.
- Most founders (including me) are lying. Don’t believe those numbers in the media. We just cook them up for a hype. We are probably 5 years away from those fancy numbers. Or we may never see them in reality.
- Only 2 out of 10 startups celebrate their 3rd b’day. Default state of any startup is failure. Some startups are in the Zombie state. They are already dead, but they didn’t realize it.
- Your best friends may not be your best co-founders. Your best buddies who helped you to fool the examiner may not come to your rescue here. This expectation mismatch might create conflicts. And these conflicts with your co-founders may ruin your friendship also. I know many such stories.
- Execution is the key. Ideas are not. Google did not invent search. RedBus did not invent online bus booking. They all executed an idea which was already there, in a better way. Your exciting idea may not excite others, especially your target customer. So stop romancing with your killer ideas. Focus on the execution part.
- It will take minimum 5 years to build a stable business. Your family/friends/relatives/girlfriend may suffocate you with questions when they don’t see you making much money in the first few years. All the people who support you now, may not be there after 2-3 years. They all expect an overnight success.
- Perseverance is everything. You need to have a truck load of patience and passion. Everyday you would face problems big and small. The world may behave so unfair to you when you try to tread your own path.
- You can’t just ‘mind your own business’. There will be a thousand little things (which you never counted initially) to annoy you and take your attention away from doing the actual business. An unexpected bandh cost us our first major client because we couldn’t deliver on time.
- Incubators/accelerators won’t sell your product. They may help you with infrastructure, network and mentorship. But it’s our job to validate the idea, find the customers and actually sell the product. Period.
If you are NOT 100% aware of the seriousness and impact of the above said points and you are still a CEO, I am sorry but you are just a business card CEO! And you are simply wasting the most productive years of your life.
So, before taking the big decision, talk to yourself first. Listen to you heart. Use your brain. If you are still confident enough to follow your dream and have the guts to face the consequences on the way — then, get ready.
Get ready for one hell of a roller-coaster ride!
All the best! ☺
I am Vivek Raghavan, Co-Founder and CEO of WowMakers– a small design studiofounded back in 2011. We are angel funded by the awesome founders of MobME Wireless. And we are the first startup at Startup Village.