What I want to write about is things I picked up along the way to become an entrepreneur, that I feel others can learn from. As you might have guessed by now, most of these are either opportunities missed or mistakes made. I have always felt that you can learn more from someone’s wrong turns and mistakes, than you can from right turns and good choices.
Like a lot of folks, my entrepreneurial journey started when I was an undergraduate. I started hanging out with guys, who like me wanted to ‘get something going’. We would bunk classes, get to the ‘chai ki tapri’ and brainstorm about ideas. We would narrate success stories, we would daydream. A direct fallout of all this, of course, was that we started slipping in our grades and attendances. And, in a straight-waistcoat Victorian system of education that’s sure to get you a lot of hell.
That was our Lesson #1 on the road to being entrepreneurs: prepare for a lot of hell. From every direction.
This was circa 2000 and the dotcom bubble still hadn’t burst. Dotcoms were popping up all around us and getting massive valuations. This was dizzying and for college kids like us – the thing to do! We began working on a portal called www.rajschools.com that would contain information about schools and colleges in Rajasthan – everything people want to know about a college or a school.
But rajschools.com never took off. We got talked out of it by people. Mostly elders. How would you make money out of it? Why would anyone want to use it? Where will you get the information from? I don’t think the elders were to be blamed though. When I look back I feel, we weren’t as creative problem solvers as we were idea hatchers.
Lesson #2 Listen to others, but follow your heart.
and #3 If you want to do something that sounds awesome, but a bunch of elders are saying it wont work, find out why it wont work. Be super creative in problem solving.
On the entrepreneurial video game, problems are like those bonus containing dragons. You don’t let the dragon eat you. You kill it, get the bonus points and move ahead. When you solve a problem creatively, in an unexpected manner, chances are you invent something that by itself is invaluable.If we had stuck to doing rajschools, there were chances we may have failed. But we would have created something, learned a lot from it and, here’s the best part – we could have afforded to fail back then.
And that’s lesson #4 At 19 you can afford to fail. And theres nothing wrong about it. As we grow older while we become more worldly wise and better equipped to take decisions (hopefully), we also accrue a higher cost of failure. So, if you have an idea now, you really feel like making it work and you have a bunch of buddies who are sold on it – go ahead do it.
I am using the word entrepreneur in a very generic sense. So you could be an artist, writer, painter, singer – just about anything. I think as long as you want to create something, you are an entrepreneur. That’s the overarching quality, the one thread that binds all entrepreneurs – the ability to dream and the courage to chase them to the ends of the earth. So, good luck and bon voyage on your entrepreneurial trip!
About the Author: Titash Neogi is an entrepreneur, CEO @themeefy, Findability/knowledge management evangelist, semantic technology researcher, web 2.0 enthusiast, avid reader and intermittent blogger. Titash is a frequent contributor to this blog bringing us his experiences, lessons and challenges as a bootstrapped entrepreneur.