What makes a ‘successful’ entrepreneur? – [Take of IIM A Alumnus]

So what makes one a ‘successful’ entrepreneur?

Let me start with a premise: Success is generally measured alongside monetary health of a venture. Rightly so coz numbers are the bloodline of any business. So let me define a ‘successful entrepreneur’ as the one who has a venture which has a sound monetary health.

Over the last few years, I too have been in pursuit of a ‘magic potion’ that makes the entrepreneurs all that we worship. When I read about entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and many who dropped-out of college, it appeared to be one of the magic mantra of becoming a success story. Drop out, start a venture, rule the world – in three simple steps.

But after a couple of years, I realized that the ploy is far more complicated. Local society has a bearing on one’s entrepreneurial life too and therefore, following the Indian success stories made more sense than following the western ones. I came across the Naukri.com story and Makemytrip.com – both the entrepreneurs did their MBAs from the best Management Institute in the country – worked in  a corporate for few years and then did their start ups.

I re-wrote the ‘three steps’ in my diary – first a sound education, followed by financial security by working in a job that pays well and then a venture/start up. Then I went to a B-School, where I came across stories of young MBA grads giving up multi-million pay package and challenging job offers only to do their own startup. Traditional media hyped this lot and ignited a motivational element within me too; I can term this as a ‘flight of fantasy’ now.

So the notes changed again – take up an MBA from a good B-school, work on getting the right idea during the course, and startup immediately after MBA!

But now after two years of  ‘post grad’ the notes still keep changing. I realized that all this while,  I have been strait-jacketing a trait which is ‘rebellious’ in nature. Does a rebel make a successful entrepreneur? I hope I do not have to edit my notes again, but then who knows? Below given are the latest ones on my diary:

There are three basic steps to successful entrepreneurship

1) Throw caution to the wind. Start doing what you really like and think is great work. Become a risk taker. There will be some filtering done as you win and lose, succeed and fail. Slowly you will arrive at something which you like and is feasible as a venture. There are no free lunches, so be prepared to burn some money and a lot of time.

2) The next step is to execute the plan/idea what you have arrived at in the step 1 🙂  There will again be successes and failures as an entrepreneur has to continue.  You may have the right team, but not a great idea. You may have a VC backing but no good idea and on other occasion, the team itself might not be there at a ‘critical moment’.

Just be with these moments – crazy they may be – but each bestows a very important ‘learning’ with it.

3) Hit and try, hit and try and hit and try yet again with loads of learning, and you will have a good team, great idea and if you are very lucky a VC/Angel too! There is simply one mantra now – don’t lose your passion. Pursue with a vigor of an zealot, against all odds.

In my experience I have seen a majority of entrepreneurs stumbling at step 1 itself. A few stumbled at step 2. However once people transcended through the stage-3 the outcome was only natural: success. Entrepreneurship can be summed up as passion, determination and belief.

You may be a success or may not – the golden statistic says that only 1 out of 10 ‘succeeds’. I do believe that this is only a measure of the passion and the conviction to traverse right up to step 3 and beyond. No matter what the outcome, the traits of being passionate will last a lifetime and make life worthwhile irrespective of whatever happens from money point of view.

Besides, wouldn’t you like to tell your children ‘I’ve lived MY life, the way I wanted’?

About the Author: Vijayendra Haryal is a working as a Global Executive Manager with a MNC. He graduated from IIM Ahmedabad in 2008 and is also a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Kharagpur. He has keen interest in the social enterprise and is co-founder of a web portal www.volstreet.com.

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