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Venturing into the Unknown

There is nothing more difficult to handle, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its outcome, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things.' -Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

Atul Jalan | Print Edition: December 28, 2006

'Entrepreneurship is the ability to create and build a vision from practically nothing.'-Jeffrey Timmons, professor of entrepreneurship. I have chosen entrepreneurship as a way of life and it has been the only 'lifestyle' that I have experienced in last 15 years of my professional career. I am intrigued by the enquiries and curiosity that ordinary folks have regarding the nuances about entrepreneurship and the make-up of an entrepreneur. To me it has meant a continual journey of idealism and optimism with exhilarating failure and success along the way.

Every aspiring entrepreneur can recite the truisms of the business: identify the value drivers of your business, understand the dynamics of the risk capital industry, do a SWOT analysis, build a team, arrive at a go-to-market strategy, and build a revenue model. But, the road to success can be a scramble from one slippery rock to another. Apart from the usual suspects like training, talent, doing what you love, not doing it for the money alone (or otherwise) and good timing, entrepreneurs need a few more tricks to thrive during the inevitable ups and downs.

Are you confident you can live with the ambiguities? You are betting on the unknown. It is said that entrepreneurs spend more time in blind alleys than stray cats - if not chasing money, then chasing new technology or service concepts. The worst case scenario for folks 'at work' is getting fired. The worst case for entrepreneurs is losing everything. Being an entrepreneur without ambivalence is a tough road. It's going to be twice as tough with it.

Also consider the value that you and your business proposition bring to the table. It does not necessarily have to be a blockbuster of an idea like an iPod or Google or Ryan Air. But the business idea must have a unique value proposition and the uniqueness could come from innovative technology, delivery method, pricing or a combination of these. Look at McDonald's. It did not invent anything. Its final product was what any decent American restaurant had produced years ago. But by applying management concepts and techniques (asking, what is 'value' to the customer), standardising the product and by basing training on the analysis of the work to be done, McDonald's drastically upgraded the yield from resources and created a new market and a new customer.

Real entrepreneurs are passionately in love with their idea. They display energy and stamina to sell it to the waiting world and have the resilience to face rejections. Finally, just do it ... do not wait to get started. Entrepreneurship is one of the cornerstones of a modern, fully developed economy and the life blood of thriving local communities, as it contributes to job creation and economic growth and is crucial to innovation and competitiveness. Just remember that your business failures don't make you an awful person. Likewise, your successes don't make you agenius or superhuman.(The Author is the CEO and MD, Manthan Systems)

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