Entrepreneur - Crashing Fear / Cashing Fortitude


By

Ms. Deepa D. Singh
Asst. Professor
VVN Institute of Management, Technology & Research
Bangalore
 


It's not the critic who counts, nor the observer who watches from a safe distance. These are producers who strike out on their own, who know high highs and low lows, great devotions, and who overextend themselves for worthwhile causes.  Without exception, they fail more than they succeed and appreciate this reality even before venturing out on their own. But when these producers of wealth fail, they atleast fail with style and grace, and their gut soon recognizes that failure is only a resting place, not a place in which to spend a life time. Their places will never be with those nameless souls who know neither victory nor defeat, who receive weekly paychecks regardless of their week's performance, who are hired hands in the labor in someone else's garden.

These doers are producers and no matter what their lots are at any given moment, they'll never take a place beside the takers, for theirs are a unique; place alone, under the sun. They are entrepreneurs!

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, who wants to experience the deep, dark canyons of uncertainty and ambiguity, and who wants to walk the breathtaking highlands of success. But I caution, do not plan to walk the latter, until you have experienced the former.

Entrepreneur's are the heroes of today's marketplace. They start companies and create jobs at a breathtaking pace. The passion and drive of the entrepreneurs move the world of business forward. They challenge the unknown and continuously create the future.

Entrepreneurs will continue to be critical contributors to economic growth through their leadership, management, innovation, research and development effectiveness, job creation, competitiveness, productivity, and formation of new industry.

Would be entrepreneurs live in a sea of dreams. Their destinations are private islands places to build, create, and transform their particular dreams into reality. Being an entrepreneur entails envisioning your island, and even more important, it means getting in the boat and rowing to your island. Some leave the shore and drift aimlessly in the shallow waters close to shore, while others paddle furiously and get nowhere, because they don't know how to paddle or steer. Worst of all are those who remain on the shore of the mainland, afraid to get in the boat. Yet, all those dreamers may one day be entrepreneurs if they can marshal the resources – external and internal – needed to transform their dreams into reality.

Everyone has dreams. We all dream while asleep, even if we don't remember dreaming. Entrepreneur's dreams are different. Their dreams are not limited to dreams about fantasy islands or fast cars. Theirs are about business.

Making history out of nothing at all! That's an entrepreneur! One who dares to dream, who knows no matter how tiring the journey, he shall make it.

Today's current younger generation is sometimes referred to as Generation X because they feel "X-ed" out of traditional opportunities. This generation of the twenty-first century may become known as Generation E, however because they are becoming the most entrepreneurial generation. As many as 5.6 million people younger than age 34 are actively trying to start their own businesses today. One-third of new entrepreneurs are younger than age 30, more than 60 percent of 18 to 29 years olds say they want to own their own businesses, and nearly 80 percent of would-be entrepreneurs are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Every person has the potential and free choice to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. Exactly what motivates individuals to make a choice of entrepreneurship has not been identified, at least not as one single event, characteristic or trait.

It is important to understand the most common characteristics associated with successful entrepreneurs as well as the elements associated with the "dark side" of entrepreneurship. In this manner we can become more acquainted with the complete perspective involved in entrepreneurial behavior.

Entrepreneurs, driven by an intense commitment and determined perseverance, work very hard. They are optimists who see the cup as half full rather than half empty. They strive for integrity. They burn with the competitive desire to excel. They use failure as a tool for learning. They have enough confidence in themselves to believe they personally can make a major difference in the final outcome of their ventures.

The characteristics that are often attributed to entrepreneurs are:

Confidence, perseverance, determination, energy, diligence, resourcefulness, ability to take calculated risks, dynamism, leadership, optimism, need to achieve, versatility, knowledge of product, market, machinery, technology, creativity, ability to influence others, ability to get along well with people, initiative, flexibility, intelligence, orientation to clear goals, positive response to challenges, independence, responsiveness to suggestions and criticism, time competence, efficiency, ability to make decisions quickly, responsibility, foresight, accuracy, thoroughness, cooperativeness, profit orientation, ability to learn from mistakes, sense of power, pleasant personality, egotism, courage, imagination, perceptiveness, toleration for ambiguity, aggressiveness, capacity for enjoyment, efficacy, commitment, ability to trust workers, sensitivity to others, honesty, integrity, maturity, balance………….

One clear pattern among successful, growth-minded entrepreneurs is their focus on opportunity rather than on resources, structure, or strategy. They start with the opportunity and let their understanding of it guide other important issues. They are goal oriented in their pursuit of opportunities. Setting high but attainable goals enable them to focus their energies, to selectively sort out opportunities, and to know when to say "no". Their goal orientation also helps them to define priorities and provides them with measures of how well they are performing.

Entrepreneurship also has been characterized as the interaction of the skills of inner control, planning and goal setting, risk taking, innovation, reality perception, use of feedback, decision making, human relations and independence. In addition many people believe successful entrepreneurs are individuals who are not afraid to fail. This list is undoubtedly incomplete.

You may encounter with the dark side of entrepreneurship as well but it is important to understand the potential destructive vein of these factors. The three major problems are risk, stress and ego.

Starting or buying a new business involves risk. The higher the rewards, the greater the risks the entrepreneurs usually face. If different entrepreneurial styles exist, then not every person who founds a new business enterprise does so by seeking to minimize financial risk and maximize financial returns. Models of organization formation would thus have to be adjusted for differences among those who form organisations.

It should be noted that "People who successfully innovate and start businesses come in all shapes and sizes. But they do have a few things others do not. In the deepest sense, they are willing to accept risk for what they believe in. They have the ability to cope with a professional life riddled by ambiguity, a consistent lack of clarity. Most have a drive to put their imprint on whatever they are creating. And while unbridled ego can be a destructive thing, try to find an entrepreneur whose ego isn't wrapped up in the enterprise."

Entrepreneurs face a number of different types of risk – financial risk, career risk, family risk and psychic risk. In most new ventures, the individual puts a significant portion of his or her savings or other resources at stake. Many people are unwilling to risk their savings, property and salary to start a new business.

Another question frequently raised by would-be entrepreneurs is whether they will be able to find a job or go back to their old job if their venture should fail. They also have the fear of nervous breakdowns and depressions if business fail, which is a psychic risk.

The fear an entrepreneur experiences has its own taste, its own smell, and its own gutwrenching pain. And it does not go away as long as the person remains an entrepreneur. It becomes an education entrepreneur's experience – "Entrepreneurial Fear 101". The fear entrepreneurs experience cannot be expected, cannot be escaped and cannot be prepared against. Because most entrepreneurs do not admit they have experienced this entrepreneurial fear, it remains a deep, dark secret. And because it is not talked about, most entrepreneurs feel they are the only ones who have ever experienced it.

But no matter what pain is experienced through the fear, the elation felt from success subsides it. That high, along with fear, is an emotion reserved for entrepreneurs and becomes food for spirit. It is more like a roller-coaster ride. In the beginning, imagine pulling yourself up the incline very slowly, making any tough decisions with a growing sense of excitement and foreboding. Then when you hit the top, for a brief moment it is frightening, and the anticipation accelerates before you feel no more feelings of control. As you go screaming into the unknown fear takes over. At first, all you feel is fear; then suddenly the ride is over, the fear is gone, but the exhilaration remains. What is next for the entrepreneur? He or she buys another ticket.

So what is the key ingredient for entrepreneurial success? It is the ability to handle fear. For it is the lonely entrepreneur living with his or her personal fear who breathes life and excitement into an otherwise dull and mundane world

The 9 reasons to abandon your fear of start-up and launch a business today

With the economic downturn, students in all the major business schools have been dropping out of their entrepreneurship classes and transferring back to classes where they think they have a secure future. Students and professionals who were once planning to start businesses now have decided to go back to their cushy jobs. Everything is going back to normal. Or at least that is how it looks. Below are nine reasons why any student should start a business:

1. You gain experience. Owning and running your own business is an incredible way to gain experience and credentials regardless of whether you decide to stay in business once you graduate.

2. You have nothing to lose. I think it's safe to say that most students dip into their parents' checkbook when it comes time to pay the bills. In general, students aren't paying child support, rent, utilities and many other expenses. The worst thing that could happen if your business fails is that you get a job, have an incredible credential on your resume, and have experience that will increase your chances of success in the future. The best thing that can happen is that you'll become the next Infosys. I don't know about you, but I think that is better than choosing between no job and jobs that you're in just for the money.

3. Two-thirds of millionaires are entrepreneurs, according to Thomas Stanley and William Dank, authors of The Millionaire Mind. If it's the money you want, then consider entrepreneurship. You receive not only a salary, but also a lot of money if you're lucky enough to sell your company or take it public. Michael Furdyk, a successful young entrepreneur, was able to sell his business, MyDesktop.com, for $1 million when he was 16 years old!

4. You develop networking skills. You've likely heard that your network increases your net worth. Consider the fact that by running a business and constantly being in a business community, you will develop excellent contacts. If you choose to get a job after you graduate, you will have a great pool of people who will be more than happy to hire you or send your resume to somebody who wants to.

5. You increase your value. Put simply, starting a business in college increases the value of "the brand called you" and gives you more options. For example, an entrepreneur with a large brand value can publish a book, star in a documentary movie, or go straight to the top of another company. People don't often get an opportunity like that until they are much older.

6. Operating a profitable business in the long term is less risky than being an employee in the long term. For example, just look at the recent economic downturn. Tens of thousands of people have been laid off. I can guarantee the owners of profitable businesses are still with the business. They will be the last people to go down with a ship. Business owners can have multiple streams of incomes from different customers. If you're an employee, you only have one stream of income and therefore are bearing more risk.

7. You will learn more about yourself and what they don't teach or prepare you for in college. Furthermore, entrepreneurship is the combination of all the disciplines of business. It includes knowledge of marketing, accounting, management and operations. Already having knowledge of these topics before you take classes on them allows you to see more clearly how everything applies. Also, you will be able to learn early-on what subjects you like so you can make better decisions on what to major in and what industries to target.

8. It is yours. You make the rules, create your own hours, work from wherever you want and choose who you want to work with. You can also pick what interests you the most in the world and then start a business that is related to that topic in some way. If you like art, you can start a design business. If you like marketing, you can create or choose a product and then market it. If you like writing, you can write a book and do your own public relations and marketing. If you like the Internet, you can start a Web development business.

9. You'll grow. You will grow a lot from owning a business. The business allows you to learn more about myself.

To sum up let me give you the example of India's two leading organizations. The people who created these organizations are neither educated beyond 10th std nor are they techno savvy. They are people who got world recognition for their courage to start and organize a successful setup. They are the rural women of Gujarat creating AMUL and the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai.

The Amul India Story is a stimulating excursion into a dream that is now reality.

On the advice of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, a leader in India's independence movement, the milk producers registered the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers' Union, now popularly known as AMUL, in 1946. Blessed with the vision of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a patriot, there happened the birth of a small movement in Gujarat, the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producer's Union and its evolution into a fantastic new paradigm of development. It was all due to the daring initiatives and dynamism displayed by a team of committed individuals - a farmer, Tribhuvandas Patel, a professional manager, V.Kurien and a technologist, H.M.Dalaya. This is a story of faith, empowerment, and dream realization.This was the genesis of organized milk marketing in India, a pioneering effort that opened a new vista for dairy development in the country

Facts about the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers' Union (AMUL)

> Established in 1946 - two societies collected 250 lures of milk
> Competed with Persons to supply milk to Bombay
> 1952 - Bombay Government terminated Persons contract and signed with AMUL
> 1955 - dairy and milk powder plant was established with aid from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
> 1960 - AMUL pioneered production of milk powder and baby food from buffalo milk
> AMUL - meets producer demand for critical inputs, veterinary services, artificial insemination and feed
> Today AMUL members supply more than 1 million lures of milk per day
> AMUL sells 400 tonnes of cattle feed every month

The statistics of Dabbawallahs proves how well organized are these people whose logistics in an example around the world.

1. They deliver 1,75,000 meals /day, which accounts to 3,50,000 transactions/day.
2. Better than 6 sigma record
(no errors, safe, and on time).
3. Packages carried for about 25 km (one way).
4. Cost of service / month ~ Rs. 200/month ($ 4.00/month).
5. 5000 people employed.
6. Rs. 50 Cr. Turnover ($ 10 million).
7. Standard price for all (Weight, Distance, Space).
8. Organized as a cooperative; 200 groups associated with Nutan Tiffin Box Suppliers Association.
9. Elected officials as governing board.
10. Commitment to continuous improvement.

They have never had any complaints – civil or criminal against any of their people ever since they have started their cooperatives.

When the unqualified people have created history, then with the additional benefits of having been trained as Management leaders – nothing can stop an MBA from thinking immediately about creating jobs. Don't attempt to be another job seeker after your MBA, aim at being a job creator. Let me give you the quotes of our President Abdul Kalam, "Thinking is progress. Non-thinking is stagnation of the individual, organization and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action, converts adversity into prosperity. Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life."
 


Ms. Deepa D. Singh
Asst. Professor
VVN Institute of Management, Technology & Research
Bangalore
 

Source: E-mail May 23, 2006

     

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