Enough with Employees, we need more Employers

Date:   Wednesday , November 30, 2011

In India, if 18 or 21 year old students or graduates tell their parents, relatives, teachers or anyone around them that they have a great business idea and would like to start work on it, they would be laughed at and their idea will be dismissed as a joke. They will have more chance at convincing their elders that earth revolve around the moon than that they can build a successful company. Mark Zuckerberg was barely 20 when he started Facebook. If people around him had dismissed his idea as a youngster’s stupidity, we would still be sending emails and sms to our friends. Forget about Facebook, Paul Allen was 22 and Bill Gates, 20, when they started Microsoft.

Think of all the good things we would have missed if they were stopped. Why are we still producing only employees and not employers?
There are several reasons for this. Our society seems to dawdle with the idea that business is passed on in genes and only a business man’s offspring possess the ability to start and run a successful business, our educational structure is more interested in theory than the practical approach, our middle class and upper middle class mostly stays away from businesses, our society thinks that youngsters does not have enough real life experience to take the right choice, and above all we have failed to accept failure. The truth is that, the society itself is restricting the number of innovators and genius business men it could have produced.

“It is the ecosystems, that is filled with mentors, investors and visionaries, that make entrepreneurship a viable possibility in the U.S. We still do not have it, but recently, a change in this scenario is starting to be visible. I am hoping the new generation will have a better chance at taking on the entrepreneurial path early on,” says M. Srinivas Rao, Founder & CEO, Aujas.

It is said that a child is born agnostic. Our society instills all of its traits and characters into them, and along with these traits is the idea that business is not for us.

Parents and elders seems to have pledged to make their child an engineer or a doctor and show zero interest in what their child really cares about or wants to be. A recent Hindi movie ‘3 Idiots’ brilliantly portrayed this aspect of the Indian society. We seem to have come to the conclusion that the purpose of life is to take less risk and choose a career that offers an assured job and a lot of money. Interest and aptitude seems to have taken a back seat in the society. And in such a society there is no room for a Zuckerberg or Gates or Jobs.

An education structure, which is crafted according to the attitude of our society, cares little about anything other than theory. The structure enables the students to get good grades and marks. “We need to start changing from schools itself. Our schools do not entertain creativity, they are only teaching students to gain better grade than the next student. The quality of the teachers and the education provided in the schools has to go up,” says K. K .Guin, Professor, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur. But most of the students who graduate from Indian universities have little or no real world practical knowledge. Companies are put in a difficult position where they hire these grads as they will have to give them extensive training to make them efficient. Now a day, the companies also seem to have come into terms with this reality. We are literally manufacturing engineers when what we could use more are scientists. Like in the U.S. or the UK, we need to weave in entrepreneurship to the very fabric of our society, so that the future generation will have the mentality to try something new and create a difference in this world. This can only be done through a total restructuring of education. “All the IITs and IIMs are not enough, what we need are 100s of world class schools with great faculty, we need to catch them young” says Ravishankar, Co-Founder & CEO, Nevales. Our education needs to have more real world projects and assignment that would help students gain a practical perspective of businesses. We should move ahead from providing services and should concentrate more on research. Then we will see more and more employers popping up in the country.

Parents in the country has to realize that you are training your child to be a part of someone else’s works force, when he or she could become that someone who employees the workforce. This idea of not thinking beyond working for someone else might have its root in our long history of being ruled by foreign powers, but that time has passed and we need to move ahead. “Before British our society was majorly based on agriculture and a few businesses. British introduced us to the paid administrative jobs. Then later on, post independence, came technological advancements yet, stuck on to our salary based jobs,” explains Ravisankar. A good majority of the people who made big in this world started down that path early on. Your motto should be, ‘let them be all they can be’.
‘It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward,’ a famous quote from Sylvester Stallone’s 2006 movie Rocky Balboa, captures the essence of winning completely. It is always about accepting failure, recovering from it and moving forward. Winston Churchill once said, ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts’. Recently in NASSCOM Product Conclave, Vinod Khosla said that ‘I don’t mind failing, but when I succeed it better be worth succeeding’. It is attitude like this that needed to be instilled in the youngsters and not a fear of failure. We also need to learn to accept failure.