- Start-ups are handling hard times better
The boy was at his wits end. Having just stepped into his teens he was flustered by one common advice being piled upon him from all quarters, from neighbours to stationery seller to vegetable vendor to milkman, and, of course, from most relatives. “Achchhi naukri karna (Get a good job).” The trauma continued till the education minister visited his class. The nervous teacher, apparently to impress the minister, squeaked, “Achchhi naukri karna.” But even before the boy could utter a word, the minister stated, “Achchhi naukri dena (Provide good jobs). If all of you want to take up jobs only, then who will create and provide new jobs?” The class broke into a cheer.
Obviously, a myth had been shattered.
This is the gist of an advertisement running on most Indian TV channels currently. Sponsored by the government of the national capital territory of Delhi, the campaign hits out at the mad race for secure government jobs in our part of the world. Those who reject the trodden path to launch their own enterprises from scratch are the ones who create job opportunities and wealth for the society. Yet the same society, caught in its traditional and backward thinking, denies due respect to these entrepreneurs. Recognition comes to these brave hearts after years of toil and struggle.
The TV advertisement I talked of is a testimony of the changing times. The government is fast realising that the days of government jobs for all are gone; they will not return. Growing countries are now actively following the principle of less government and more governance. Advanced and wealthy nations had understood and imbibed this fundamental postulate way before. That is why they are where they are. They endured the pain of entrepreneurship, failed and fumbled, time and again, but got back on their feet. And then came the gain that spread across the society not by way of mere jobs in their growing enterprises but by bolstering the entrepreneurial spirit. If the entrepreneur can do it, then why can’t we. Societies and countries started thinking thus and gained prosperity the entrepreneurial way.
I find this vital energy cutting across age barriers now. Earlier when we discussed someone’s career or future, the person being talked about generally used to be in his or her twenties. But now even persons in their forties or fifties are seeking to plough a new furrow for themselves.
Lately, I managed to scrape out time for some quality TV watching. Sony TV has recently launched a programme called Shark Tank India, a franchise of its Western version. The programme provides a platform to startups and aspiring entrepreneurs for live interaction with venture capitalists who have a successful launch record. So far, I have seen entrepreneurs from 16 to 50+ years of age discussing and displaying their business proposals and experience with venture capitalists. They seek funding against equity in their proposed businesses. It is not just money that the entrepreneurs are looking for. Many a time, they settle for a lesser investment offer if they feel that the funder’s experience, contacts, passion, etc. may add greater value to their enterprise. On the spot, decisions are taken and cheques are issued to the delighted entrepreneurs. Many aspirants return empty-handed but considerably enriched by the advice from the highly experienced venture capitalists, some of whom have built
Enterprises may appear to be the stuff of dreams to some. Hardly so to those who combine passion with pragmatism. Today, we indeed hear of, at least, more than one Unicorn (a privately held start-up company with a value of over $1 billion) making its presence in the business world every month. That may seem a lot but we need not forget that thousands of start-ups fall by the wayside.
The Covid pandemic is imparting new lessons to us every day. Entrepreneurs need to be all the more vigilant about them. Are your start-up and also your team nimble, flexible and responsive to the new and emerging needs of the market? Are you ready and equipped to make changes in your pricing, marketing, staffing, warehousing, etc.? Remember that all this will be possible only if you are able to lead a culture change in your enterprise. No less important is admission of the fact that all your business factors are not under your control at any time and all the more so during a global health catastrophe. So, brainstorm and discover the factors that are within your control. Focus on them. That is the practical way of saving and growing your enterprise and also keeping intact your faith in entrepreneurship.