Being a successful entrepreneur
Date: Thursday , February 01, 2007
Investment decisions are driven by two key factors—market opportunity and the quality of entrepreneur. Various investors have personal philosophies on whether market is more important or the entrepreneur. My personal opinion is that building a successful company starts with the Entrepreneur.
Defining Entrepreneurial traits
Entrepreneurs have a passion to conquer problems, the capacity to work hard, and the commitment for results. They have the supreme sense of self-confidence and belief-in-self to take the first step and see it to the end. With this courage of conviction, entrepreneurs look at risk differently. In essence, they are betting on a belief in their abilities to view and process data in a different way that creates opportunities others do not see.
Sometimes being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t directly translate into becoming a successful business leader. Entrepreneurs bring a purity of focus and produce broad value. A business leader needs to systematically analyze and scrutinize options in order to avoid being blind-sided or locked-in to one idea. Being a successful entrepreneur and a successful business leader requires an optimal balance between listening with a willingness to admit errors or change direction, and having courage of conviction.
Principles of Leadership
Leading an organization is a juggling act. Entrepreneurial leadership is not a popularity contest, but the inner discovery of right and wrong. Making decisions based on short-term kudos or seeking someone else’s approval is not effective long term. Doing so leads to compromise and breeds politics in an organization. And the impact of decisions made cannot always be judged in the moment. Difficult decisions may take long term perspective to decide if they were correct or not. These values must be sustainable in an environment where risk and uncertainty are high. Without core principles, trust in its leadership is undermined.
What makes for the ideal entrepreneurial opportunity?
Market Opportunity: The market needs to be large enough to sustain a substantial revenue stream within three to five years. Things to consider are whether there is large market potential in a fast growing sector and what is the competition.
Team: Entrepreneurs should lead with passion and have a clear sense of the opportunity, the domain expertise to build the business, and the conviction to act decisively during difficult times.
Unique value: Ideally, the solution should be unique, and offer a long lasting competitive advantage that is not to be easily displaced. Uniqueness need not be limited to technology invention. It can be a process innovation, marketing or business model innovation. Market timing is a consideration as well.
Funding: It is important to evaluate the experience of the investor before accepting funding. Can they provide access to management, deals and powerful networks? Do they have the time to mentor the entrepreneurs and provide operational guidance? But the most important decision to the success of a company is the chemistry and shared values with the investors.
Many of the role models I have admired are men and women who have impacted the lives of others through their leadership and personal example. Ancient works like the Bhagavat Gita have inspired many of the values of my life philosophy. Entrepreneurship and leadership is a life long journey, we improve each day and learn something in every step. But to be on the journey, you have to take the step to begin.
The author is a serial entrepreneur and visionary known for identifying emerging markets and building successful market-driven software companies.