Entrepreneur or not?

That day I was watching 300 on TV. A really nice movie, apart from the blood and gore, and a nice lesson in leadership. There’s one dialog which impressed me:

The bearded king was heading to war, and he is met with a team of soldiers who want to ally with them so that they can take on the common army. The lead of the ally team asks the bearded king why he has got lesser soldiers.

The bearded king picks some random soldier from the ally’s team and asks him his profession. “I’m a blacksmith,” he replies. “I’m a xyz_blah”, all subsequent answers came. Then he turns to his own team and asks them, what’s your profession?
The team answers by a warrior’s war cry.

 

Since a past some time I have been meeting my old friends – the ones that were with me in college times. We used to do interesting things together when we were students. And ofcourse, all of us had our own ideas of being “Bill Gates of India” like every common computer science student. Soon after college they got “placed” in a good package company. I could be placed too, but I had my own plans. I started Pratikar. In fact I had already started it while I was a student..

Now after like three odd years when they meet me they ask me a single question – and though it’s really tough for them to express it, they mean:
“What have you done in the last three years? I thought you’d be Bill Gates but you’re nowhere yet”.

Yes. I am nowhere near being Bill Gates. Not yet. But yes, I am on the path I have chosen to be. Over a period of like three years, I realized what it really takes to be an entrepreneur. Here are some points:

1. Money isn’t your driving force

No doubt money is the most powerful thing in this world. Some people will argue but then even more powerful things like love etc. are feeble against money. But not for us, entrepreneurs, no. Money isn’t what drives us, passion does. For example I have this friend of mine who is like, “Kaushal you make this XYZ software, there’s a lot of money in it and I will give you ___________ lakhs for its development and we will be partners”. Well, I don’t like to make this XYZ even if it gives me a million rupees a month because it doesn’t solve the problem I am trying to solve. I will do what I want to do even if it means I have to stay bankrupt for a decade.

2. You lose track of routines

If you have seen “The Social Network”, one reason why the Winklevoss brothers failed to become as successful as Mark Zuckerberg, in my opinion, is that they were robots with strict routines. Starting up something is not related to careful planning. It is related to an impulse in your mind – Facebook itself didn’t start up with a business plan, it was just something new and exciting. The business plan was built probably afterwards. Many people start up just because they feel like doing so. It’s like “falling in love”, you listen to your heart and ignore your mind. And so you lose track of time because you are passionate about what you do.

3. You discuss business plans with everyone

One day I was talking to this girl whom I met and after one hour of a talk over a large sundae which I honestly “gulped” in front of her, she tells me, “You know you’re too professional”. I was like :O since  I consider myself most unprofessional. But then I realized that it wasn’t my lifestyle she was talking about; it was my attitude towards things in life. Life after starting up is more like what Neo Anderson sees the Matrix as – you can tear apart basically every object around you and identify how it is or it could be converted into a successful business plan – I remember when one of my friends commented about the hot summer in Ahmedabad I quickly developed a plan to sell frozen water pouches – a fictitious one though.

4. You are the black sheep of your family

Parents’ anniversary? You’re late for dinner; you’re waiting for a client’s cheque but more importantly you are still thinking of whether to buy a black forest cake or a blueberry cake. Brother’s birthday? You want to wish him at 00:00 AM but oops! the gift is missing so you might delay it till the evening. Grandpa sick? Don’t worry, the last person he’d be eager to see will be you. Family get-together on a Sunday? But you’re working extra hours at office to finish up that important project. You never do things on time at home, and soon your family gets used to it. In my case my family is really very supportive of me today.

5. You’re the most eligible bachelor – always

Welcome to Indian ecosystem. Here every bride-to-be and her dad have only one question in mind – Is your job permanent? At one point of time I thought that the reason I am still single is because I don’t have a job and I am broke and all that crap, and my parents wanted me to get both – a job and a girl. So I tried my hand at academics, I did a job at the university as a lecturer. Soon we were at a “wedding-fair” and I realized that out of the 482 odd grooms against some 187 odd brides, almost 200 grooms were lecturers and they were still trying to get a girl. I decided to quit the very same day. And that was 2011. Two years later a lady asks me, “The reason you are single is because if I were to be a girl that would spend my life with you I would think about the security you are offering me, and since you’re not having a permanent job I’d be less interested, so go join that lecturer’s job once again”. Bullshit – if you want me to accept you the way you are, you need to accept me the way I am, and I am not changing my career plan for a girl. I’d choose to be a bachelor until there’s someone who really understands this.

Well, these are just five points. I could keep writing more but it’s 6:40 AM and I need to go for my cycling-jogging routine. As an ending note, I wrote this blog post as an open letter to all my “wanna be Bill Gates” friends. Are you ready for giving up these many things for your cozy, comfortable life? If you are hesitant about it then sorry my friend, you can’t compare me with you.

Ending note – Entrepreneurship is expressed in binary – either you are one or you aren’t. There’s no middle-state.

 

 

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