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Making of an entrepreneur

The ability to negotiate with friends instead of giving them a head butt is a quality that sets a child apart.

Raman Roy | Print Edition: November 30, 2006

For most of us, an entrepreneur is someone who organises, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture. This is a classic definition of an entrepreneur. To me what is important is the entrepreneurial capability and not the fact that it is displayed in a business venture alone. It can be displayed in a job, in social interactions, in school or college—in all facets of life. The application of this capability in a business venture is perhaps the most fruitful and rewarding part of it. So, what comprises entrepreneurial abilities? Creativity, passion, leadership skills? All of these and more.

The ability to take risks emanating from the strong belief in the ideas that are different from others and that at times may be described as out-of-the-box is a must-have for an entrepreneur. These personal attributes are as important as the management degree or the technical know-how. Entrepreneurial skills are honed as a child moves to the playground and from there to school and college onto the work place. The ability to negotiate with friends instead of giving them a head butt is a quality that sets a child apart.

Similarly, optimising the use of whatever resources are available is also a quality of an entrepreneur. My favourite example is of children, who put a cricket kit together by getting friends with specific gear (someone who owns a bat, another one with the ball, wickets and so on) to play together and have a game. This requires the ability to ensure that the person who owns the bat is not bowled out early in the game as he will leave with the bat and then there would be no game! This is exactly like having an idea, believing in it and being able to sell it to people to make it happen, engaging the right people at the right time with the right capabilities.

Only an entrepreneur can accomplish it. Let’s focus on the five basic qualities that an entrepreneur must possess before starting an enterprise.

Believe in the idea: Start with an idea and then let it grow till it gets a life of its own. Being obsessed with your idea is very critical. Test it out with professionals and potential customers till it gets a feasible shape. Your faith will set it rolling.

Ability to sell the dream: People who claim to have great ideas but no teams to implement it can never be entrepreneurs. Getting others equally passionate about the idea is the next step towards success.

Taking the onus of the risk: Be prepared to handle both success and failure. The spotlight is on you, and you can’t weasel out.

Getting the right team: The DNA of a team is very important. Unique skills of each should be able to set the business in motion and add value. Let there be disagreements. Teams that do more than what lesser mortals do reach a solution themselves. It’s only a thinking team that will slug it out over a problem.

Strength to rebound: You lost a contract and you smiled through, but do you have a back-up plan that will help you straighten your shoulders and get you back in office at 9 a.m. the next day? It’s this characteristic that would set you apart from other start-ups.

The roller-coaster ride of successes and bloopers should delight you as much as the end result. It is not just a foolproof blueprint that will make a start-up successful. There is an entire eco-system of values and beliefs that make it happen.

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