The best thing about being down and out is that- you can start all over again, that there is no place to go but up, that there is nothing to prove but create, that you aren’t tied down by expectations and limitations of your social circle; the world becomes your canvas and a ground of limitless possibilities stare you in the face that you can choose from.
I speak from experience. I have learnt that experience can compensate for education, but there is nothing that can substitute perspiration or hard work in one’s struggle to succeed. From all that I have gathered from my short stint as an entrepreneur is listed below for any enthusiast in the field to refer to. The bug for leadership can be cultivated but mostly it is a part of your DNA or quickly becomes one.
The essentials according to me for making an entrepreneur are:
Persistence: The most important of the lot. Persistence is the key to success. In any venture or start-up or even when restructuring an enterprise, the one essential tool that is irreplaceable is persistence. There are a lot of people out there who would discourage you with phrases like, ”This won’t work”, “It has been done before”, “there is too much competition in the sector”, and so on and so forth. Your proposal initially may be rejected or the light at the end of the tunnel may not yet appear visible to you. The idea is not to lose hope. After each failure (there might be some) you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on. In the end, the one that strives a little longer than the last reaches the light. In my own ventures, there were times when the road ahead seemed so arduous that my dreams and vision seemed almost delusional, but my belief in them kept me going and that is what has mattered in the end.
Resilience: Nothing in life is black-and-white. The moment we start defining success and failure according to the conventions set up by the society and media, we begin to block our way to growth. An important aspect that cannot be overlooked in an entrepreneur is his/her resilience. You will be beaten down a few times. The key again is to never give up. Believe in yourself and your dreams and vision. Lao Tzu has famously said, ‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step’. It holds true. The first steps are baby steps- tentative, cautious and wobbly but they quickly need to become sure, confident and firm. You need to adapt and be flexible to changes.
Approach: The right approach towards any aspect of life is crucial. If you don’t have the right approach, then in all probability your stint will be short lived and you will fade out into the anonymous clutter. The idea is to look at things for what they are. You need to believe in your journey and your destination. Hearsay and negative criticism towards your approach should be taken for just what they are. A constructive approach needs to be ingrained and there should be a bug in you to drive excellence not just through words but through actions.
Leadership: Our own Indian cricket team captain embodies the first rule of leadership incredibly well- to lead through with example. You need to be the example. Your employees will have their eyes on you. They will be looking towards you for inspiration. So even when the chips are down, you need to keep your head high and believe that things will turn around. You may need to put in some extra effort, but then all will be a thing of the past once the tide turns. If your employees believe in you, they would go to any lengths to help you make your cherished dream a reality. Your dreams would automatically become theirs. So be open, be receptive, be confident and always strive for excellence.
Hard work coupled with smart work: A famous quote by Thomas Edison says, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” History is laced with examples of people who worked really hard but had nothing to show for it in the end. It needs to be understood that hard work alone won’t ensure success but it needs to be coupled with smartness in the way you work. For example, it isn’t necessary to go to a top B-school to find success in business or any venture. Dhirubhai Ambani is an embodiment of success standing tall among many such iconic examples to take inspiration from. I did not go to a B-School. I believed, I could learn without having to sit in class-rooms going through beautiful PowerPoint presentations. Street-smartness and a willingness to learn and execute your learning’s’ is all that you need to be armed with, to succeed. You need to be smart to see what are your requirements and the areas of your business or ventures that need more attention than the rest; then going all out to ensuring that those are met.
Here’s wishing all of you out there aspiring to head to unchartered or unsure territories. Believe and strive. Good luck!