[Editorial notes : Guest piece by Niraj Ranjan Rout, Founder & CEO of Hiverhq. Niraj makes tons of useful points – a recommended read for several budding entrepreneurs.]
To be a successful entrepreneur is not as simple as having a great idea in your pocket. If we are being honest with ourselves, most of us are not cut for the job, and that’s really okay.
Did you know that 75% of all startups and 90% of all products fail? (source). So the real question is – is this a game you want to play?
With the startup trend spreading like a wildfire, many of us are just infatuated by the idea of entrepreneurship. Instead of getting blindly caught up in the startup bubble, you must sit down and understand what the job actually demands from you and if it’s worth it, for you.
Here are some signs that you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur:
You hate the spotlight
If you are choosing the path of entrepreneurship, you are indeed choosing a path of leadership. Your employees, investors and other businesses will be watching you closely and even under a microscope. If you are not comfortable with that kind of attention, your path will sure be very difficult.
For example, as the leader of your company, you must be able to stand in the spotlight and tell your business stories (tips on how to tell great business stories), and convince others to believe in your company.
Being able to work well under scrutiny and boring eyes is important to be successful in this arena. If not then, either you have to learn to deal with the spotlight gracefully or you have to rethink your decision to pursue entrepreneurship.
You are sensitive to criticism and disapproval
Let’s face it, not all of us have thick skins. If you cannot take criticism (both with good and bad intentions) very well, if it disorients you, if it saps away your energy – this is not going be an easy path for you.
For example, someone says that your pitch strategy is too risky and will certainly lose investors – how would you react? Would you immediately start second guessing your strategy or lose your confidence in it, or would you stay assured because you did thorough research and took a calculated risk?
We are all emotional beings and very few of us have resilience to rejection, disapproval and criticism like Margaret Thatcher, and that is absolutely okay, it’s just that you will wobble too often on the path of entrepreneurship.
It’s about the money and not about the dream
If it’s about the money (here’s why shouldn’t work for money), logically speaking, it’s best to chose some other path like may be investment banking. Why? Building and running your own company is too demanding of a task, with no promise of returns and even if there are some returns, it quite rarely grows into a billion dollar company.
So, if it is not about the dream and the wish to see your idea materialise, then it will be hard for you to stick out till the end, because it truly is like a roller-coaster ride – one day you are celebrating a win and before you finish your glass of champagne, a bad news hits!
Only the strength and will of passion for your job, can get you through such stages.
“There are only two things that can hinder your dreams: money and your imagination. If the second is great enough, the first will never be a problem”
You hate uncertainty
For a lot of us, uncertainty is unbearable – it eats us away and corrupts our peace of mind. Well, if you are going to start and run your own company, this is a total no-no. Life as an entrepreneur is all about handling uncertainty – you don’t know how a deal will go, or if an investor will change his mind, or if your partner no longer wants to stay.
It takes grit to work super hard, even if there is no promise of good results.
When I first started Hiver, for a quite a while I had no way of knowing how well we were going to do, or if we were on the right course to reach our goals, or how long it would take to break even; without any promises and guarantees we had to make the best possible decisions and work like crazy for it. You have to battle your doubts and fears everyday, and it is no easy task.
If these kind of situations steal away your night’s sleep, then entrepreneurship is indeed, not a healthy choice for you. Here is an interesting read on how uncertainty fuels anxiety.
You are not a big-picture/long-term thinker
Here is what you like: Set a goal – work with all your passion for it – win it – set another goal.
But, if you want to lead a company, this ain’t gonna cut it! You must stand where you are and be able to see the long term goal just as clearly, as your short term goal.
Why is this important? If you have a well-set long-term/big picture plan, then your short-term goals can be in sync with your long term goals.
Also, if you have a bigger picture in mind – you can take tough decisions much more easily – like when to kill a project, when to give up on an idea etc.
Well, business is like a game of chess – you have to think many steps ahead to win. If you don’t want to be bothered by such not-so-pleasant tasks, well you know what to do.
You don’t like the idea of selling your product
When people say – if you build a product/service that is really good, you won’t have to try hard to sell it – Guess what, not true!
Even if you think you have the coolest, most awesome product in the market, you have to be able to make the world see it and that’s why marketing is important. Whether in good economic times or in bad economic times, there is no escape from marketing your product to bring in results.
Why it’s okay
Now, I didn’t write such a long article to say that only a few people can run businesses; there is no doubt that you can learn to run a business if you work hard enough, but ask yourself this – is it worth going through a total personality transformation when you can be more successful in some other field by just being yourself?
Most of us are so caught up in the fancy of being an entrepreneur that, we don’t realise what it really means to choose that path. It is just as okay to work for an MNC, climb one rung after another on the corporate ladder, and reach your greatness. It is no less of an achievement than running your own company.