Thursday, 12 September 2013

Eleven shades of an entrepreneur

This article highlights the characteristics of an early-stage company entrepreneur in 11 shades. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”- Winston Churchill. Do you have what it takes to make a complete colourful journey of entrepreneurship? There are many more shades which I will share in my future articles. These 11 shades are good to begin for assessment’s sake.
1. Focus on a specialisation shade in a niche. Be a leader in your field of expertise. Many times entrepreneurs spread themselves too thin with multiple products and offerings. It is good strategy to go after the specific areas where the momentum is good and build big on it. Narrowed market focus helps address customer requirements in depth hence can command premium pricing. Generalisation vision of doing everything for everyone is sure-shot death for a startup.
2.  Avoid mixing shades of business interest with near relations like friends and families. Offering discounts, accepting late payments are usually seen when one does business with friends. Relationship clouds the decision when hiring. Design your startup founding team with good complementing professionals whom you can make friends with and will become your so-called extended family.
3. Announce the shade of commitment about your startup’s vision in public.Entrepreneurs who do it are considered serious as they have put their personal reputation at stake. Startup is THE life of entrepreneur. It does not have a predictable end. Commitment with total immersion is required from founders. It evokes lot of trust for in its team, customers and investors equally.
4. Shade of planning should be for best and worst outcomes equally. Things which are beyond your control – look at them in a pessimist way. Things which can be managed, created and steered – look at them optimistically. Entrepreneurs should invest in capital expenditure for better future and cut operational costs assuming worst scenario. If the desired success is not achieved, then plan for the downside as athletes do. It spurs them to take on the next big opportunity.
5. Entrepreneur shade of willingness to gain knowledge is important. Startup founders will be expert in technology, and design, but may lack financial acumen. Learning helps open minds to new and fresh ideas. Hence, learning, reading, and understanding financial management are important for scale, growth and investment value creation. A wise entrepreneur will be eager to learn to increase his wisdom; fools resist teachings and remain ignorant.
6. Entrepreneurs many times are very rigid in their ideas, processes and partnerships. Unable to adapt to situations results in loss of time, opportunity and relationships. Very often entrepreneurs are at cross roads with multiple options to select. There are times when conflicting guidance, approach to a problem is given to entrepreneurs. It is of utmost importance to maintain shade of flexibility along with persistence.
7. Priority shade brings in the value of saying NO to all which does not matter, and what is not useful and not good. Entrepreneurs should learn to say ‘No’ without feeling of guilt. Do not try to please everyone at the expense of the startup’s interest. Entrepreneur’s first and only goal is realising its vision. It is not considered rude if one is not able help, give time, and entertain, due to business priorities.
8. Entrepreneurs should learn the shade of active listening. Listening is not merely hearing the words but interpreting the underlying message. Good listener will be able to know unsaid or partially said communication, which is common in startups. Listen without bias, for ideas, for knowledge to become efficient and effective. Talk less, listen more.
9.  Shade to focus on good quality content in all modes of communication.Startups value increases with its ability to generate high quality content. Entrepreneurs’ focus on technology skills is very high. It misses out on creating content related to its products or services. Content is extremely important to engage and attract customers, investors and employees equally. Great entrepreneurs build arsenal of content recipes like good chefs which leaves a lasting taste on its readers.
10. Intuitive shade is like shadow which follows the entrepreneur all the time. Internal voice of entrepreneurs is very strong signal for actions when in early stage. Intuition helps entrepreneur innovate in unchartered territories. Education trains to believe in analysis, data and experts, but entrepreneurs have relied otherwise on gut feelings while taking decisions.
11. Shade of being imperfect is a gift within every entrepreneur. One has the right to do mistakes, but not to repeat the same. Do not wait for the perfect moment, perfect product, perfect team and perfect investors to land up. ‘I will release the product which is perfect, complete and flawless’, we hear entrepreneur speak many times.  It is ok launch products even when it has fewer features and not a perfect one. Perfections are a myth and enemy of good.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain.