[As part of our coverage on Single Founder/Solopreneurship phenomena, here is presenting a guest article by Shailesh Mehta. Shailesh is a IIT B/INSEAD Grad. He started his journey 4 yrs ago with Onyomo, created and sold a mobile marketing business, and has recently launched Osutra.]
Entrepreneurship is about realizing a business idea – creating and selling products, fulfilling customer needs, generating cash flows, driving a team towards realizing the business and scaling it up. It doesnt matter solo or in a team. While any sensible entrepreneur would always prefer to work with a smart group, a team makes sense only if it shares the same drive and business goals – otherwise, it is ok to be a solopreneur. Team for the sake of it means nothing – actually its worse than one man slugging it out, really.
Of course, the effort involved, the capabilities required, the perseverance needed – they all multiply for a solopreneur. But if you look closely, the experience makes the solepreneur so much stronger and capable that the kind of task that non-solopreneurs constantly sweat about, the solopreneur would just do it – without any fanfare that usually accompanies the smallest development of a ‘large’ organization. And that I think is the beauty of being a solopreneur.
But make no mistakes, an aware solopreneur is not basking in this self-created glory. He knows that one fine day, he would hit that ‘sweet spot’ – either thru funding, or thru a large deal, when he’d be able to put together a team of capable people that he’s always had in mind but couldn’t afford to hire. He is constantly working towards that spot. He’s been silently creating a network of professionals and he knows whom to choose from for what roles once that moment arrives.
And really, a solopreneur who’s done his job with sincerity ends up gaining so much trust and respect from the community of fellow professionals that the brightest of them think it a joy and privilege to be working with the solopreneur once their material requirements are taken care. That’s the true reward of solopreneurship – the ability to attract and work with the best of people – who then work not for money but for realizing their full potential by teaming up with the solopreneur. However, one general Achilles heel of solopreneurship – esp in India is this: till the solopreneur has funding, he wouldn’t be able to get people to join him, and till he has ‘team’, he might not find funding. But then its all just a matter of time. If the cash flows become sizeable, VCs start discounting the team factor. Or there is always a potential buyer looking around. Either of these enables him to put together his dream team.
Having said that, solopreneurship is not easy. It requires courage, and faith. There could be times when it becomes very taxing – on every aspect of solopreneur’s life. So as a solopreneur, one needs to know whether the business is going towards the ‘sweet spot’ or away from it. If the direction is right, keep the engines going full throttle, till you reach your desired ‘exit’ – funding or sell out. Otherwise, exercise judgement to not waste precious time and energy beyond a point. Its important to realize that there are better things to do than run a business that has consistently failed to take off. Of course, the take-off criteria is best decided by the solopreneur, and can vary with his personal situation – in terms of age, marital and financial status etc.