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Aware! Why You Wanna be An Entrepreneur
Krishnan Ganesh
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Entrepreneurship is in fashion; and articles abound in the media talking about how to launch a startup and make it big. This could be another entrepreneurship guide talking about the finer aspects of starting off, managing funds, selling your vision, and ensuring that work doesn’t become your life. Or it could not. It could do something a little different. This article tells you when not to be an entrepreneur.

1. I want to be my own master, I don’t like working under others.

Granted, in your own venture, you may not be reporting to someone officially, but you’ll perpetually be working for other people. Your first priority will be your customers. Customers are after all the reason for the existence of your venture, and you will have to do whatever it takes to please them. The next set is your financial backers (like the VCs, PE funds, and banks). You have to knock at many doors and pitch hundreds of times, for raising funds. Finally, there is the ecosystem of partners, vendors, and collaborators who have to be kept in good humor for them to do your work. In summary, it is very likely that you will find yourself trying to please multiple masters.

2. I’ve got a great idea.Do you? Really? Doesn’t everybody?

While it all starts with an idea, it also ends with an idea. A successful venture is all about execution. Great ideas and opportunities are plenty. While the Eureka story makes for great folklore, execution is the key differentiating factor between the one successful venture and 99 failed ones. Always ensure you have a strong executive background and you have the willpower to sustain the venture.

3. I am a strategic thinker who likes to focus on the big picture.

You believe you can structure the company and drive it to its final goal. And you want to quit your current job which involves hands-on slogging and paying attention to detail, and would rather sit in the boardroom dreaming up grand strategies for success.
Wake Up! In a startup you are the office boy and the CEO. You will be buying the printer and renting the office and keeping the accounts. You will also be recruiting people, making PowerPoint Presentations (goodbye PA), and sometimes even handling issues like leaky company bathrooms. So if you are just a big picture man, stay put in your stable, secure, and boring job, grit your teeth and hope that a promotion is coming your way.

4. I want to make lots of money.

Let’s get real. Yes, there are stellar examples worldwide of entrepreneurs starting off from scratch and making it big - the typical rags to riches story. But behind every such story is a lot of hardship, struggle, and pain-staking sacrifice that entrepreneurs and their families have to make along the way. Occasionally, some startups do make it big overnight, but the typical venture can get there only with strategic thinking, a lot of hard work, and a good measure of luck. Overall, if you factor in the vagaries of the business, the times when you will make less money and the other ups and downs, you might be disappointed if the primary reason for starting on your own is to make tons of money.

5. I’m tired of 12 hour work days and want more work-life balance.

Forget it! When you are on your own, it’s a 24 hour work day. In all my past ventures, I have never seen a day where there was a difference between personal and professional time. The boundary ceases to exist when you step out of the corporate world. If you plan to devote more time to your hobbies and family than you are doing right now, maybe it’s better to take a part-time job. Entrepreneurship is not the way out.

Having said all this, as a serial entrepreneur, charter TiE member, and an angel investor and mentor, I encourage each and every one of you to seriously consider starting your own venture. It is an immensely satisfying and a greatly enriching journey. However, be clear about your motivation and expectations and do your homework before setting out on the entrepreneurial path.

The author is Founder and CEO TutorVista
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