An entrepreneur is the one who initially chooses to live a life which others are afraid of, to later live a life which others can only dream of.
There has been an increasing trend now a days to consider entrepreneurship as one of the option. As compared to 1980s and 90s, today the ecosystem is more supportive of new ventures. It presents more opportunities for us to be on our own as compared to the past. Why not consider this as one of the options available to all of us? It hardly matters at what stage of career you are in today. Even while working in a company you can be an intra-preneur, i.e. exhibit the qualities of an entrepreneur while staying in your company where you work. In this case your organization becomes the investor and you use its resources to do what an entrepreneur would do, if he had invested his own money. You should not be surprised if such a behavior of yours leads to an offer by your owner to become his partner, making you an entrepreneur the easy way!
Before we start discussing about the options available, let us see how to overcome the fear we might have before we attempt to do something new.
Some of the worst fears, which might prevent you from starting on your own, are fear of unknown, giving up a well paying job and facing ridicule if you fail.
1. Fear of unknown
May be in the past, you have never attempted anything which remotely resembles running your own business. May be no one in your family has attempted that or worse still, you know of people who have failed in their own ventures.
Let us remember that even in your present career with a so-called secure job, there is a factor called ‘unknown’ but we turn a blind eye to it, or we are under the false impression that our jobs are secure.
I firmly believe that you need to trust the society to take care of your business. What I mean is, once you have started providing a service or launched a product, trust the whole ecosystem to work in your favor. It really happens that way. You will find customers coming to you, people approaching you and your friends giving references to help you, if you put a little bit of sincere effort in your enterprise.
To reduce the fear of unknown you can always start ‘in parallel’. That means, without leaving a secure job, you can try your hands on what you intend to do. This will give you a feel of what you are capable of. If you find the results encouraging, then it is worth trying it full time.
2. Giving up a well paying job
You have struggled your way up the ladder and now you have a well paying job with an excellent team and a good company to take care of your insurances. Why would you leave all that?
I would say that by leaving your job, you are not going to suddenly unlearn your skill, or lose your reputation. Today, if you have 12 years of experience as a salesperson, and if you take a break for 2 years to do something else, you would still be left with 12 years of experience as salesperson! So you would be still needed by some company out there in the world to run its sales operations based on this experience. So where is the risk? Only that of losing 2 years? It’s worth having that experience.
There is one more important point to consider. You have already succeeded as a professional. That means you have some useful qualities and experience which the society is in need of. So, trust yourself that you have got enough brains to succeed in any related field. And you would, once you face a slightly different challenge as an entrepreneur.
3. The Ridicule in case of failure
I remember a German word, Schadenfreude, that I learnt during my German evening classes taken in 1987, which means pleasure derived from misfortune of others.
If you are surrounded by people who are waiting for you to fail and you are afraid of facing the ridicule, then obviously these people are not the right folks to be with. You are in the wrong company. Better stay alone.
If you look around you will find lot of your friends who would be happy when you attempt something new, and would stay with you even if you fail.
I would go to an extent of saying that this ridicule is more in our own mind than in others’. In fact no one has time to think about you, and that’s a fact. It is us who create those stories of we being ridiculed in case of so-called failure.
You must have heard that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, just for the fear of failure.
Better be proud of the failure, just in case you fail. It is one of the best experience life can teach us. Most of the successes have a history of series of failures. (No, I am not going to give the example of Edison once again, which you have been hearing since school days.)
ADVANTAGES OUTWEIGH DISADVANTAGES
The best way to overcome the fear of starting on your own is to look at some of the benefits of being an entrepreneur.
1. Work in the places of your choice: Every field offers you many places to choose from, around the world. So you can choose to work from the place you like, including you home, airport lounges, or hotel room.
2. Work in the domains you like: if you are on your own, there is wider choice available across the domains like manufacturing, finance, banking, IT, petrochemicals, services, healthcare, airlines, hospitality, oil, logistics, etc. You can even simultaneously work in many domains.
3. Work with people you like: You can choose the people you would like to work with.
4. Choose your schedules: You have better choice of scheduling your time as you wish.
5. You meet new people every time: With so many clients with you, there is always an opportunity of interacting with new people and new companies.
6. Make more money: Most important. Any entrepreneur will secretly tell you that even if you are a low performer as an entrepreneur, you still earn much more than an average performer amongst your peers with regular day jobs.
7. Do what you like: As an entrepreneur you have a better choice to stand for the causes you love or follow the hobbies instead of worrying about what your boss would think or whether it violates the HR policies of your company.
8. You create job opportunities: And that’s a great feeling. This way you contribute towards the society directly.
9. …..and so on, there are so many, that you will run out of patience reading them if I list all of them!
No, you are not your own boss as an entrepreneur!
Sorry to disappoint you by not stating ‘Being your own boss’ as one of the advantages above.
In fact when you are on your own, you are not your own boss. By stating this, based on my own limited experience, I know I am stating something against a popular belief. In your own venture, the customers become your bosses, even your own partners and employees become your bosses! These kinds of bosses are worse then your boss in a regular job. So it’s a warning…if you plan to start on your own to become your own boss, be prepared for the disappointment!
Depending upon how would you like to approach the possibility of being an entrepreneur, the opportunities can be broadly classified into three categories:
1. Sell the product
This means you produce a product yourself. In this case some investments are needed. You can get hold of a patent and pay the fee. If you are a researcher or scientist, you can think of converting your idea into something useful to the society. If the idea has been tested, better. However, entrepreneur is the one who takes risks, so depending on your risk appetite you can still go ahead and invest in an idea which is yet to be proven.
2. Sell the skill
If you have spent 10 years in the industry, then you would have by now certainly gained enough knowledge about a particular service, selling, process of manufacturing a product or designing a plant to produce that product. This skill is highly valuable to investors who are seeking to invest in these services or products. As an independent consultant or advisor, you can sell your skill, and you can charge a fee for your services. Or better still you can join the board of Directors as an advisor, share-holder or partner. In this case you might choose to invest money or your skill instead, or even both. By only investing your skill and time in a new venture, you can always negotiate for ‘sweat equity’ and become a shareholder without investing money.
3. Teach the skill
This does not need much investment. You can always share your experience and knowledge in various forums, industries and institutes and charge a fee for the same. You can even set-up a consultancy where you train others in the skills you have acquired.
In general manufacturing is a capital intensive field. Hence you find that many of the entrepreneurship successes are also coming from service related ventures. Nothing wrong in it. Better to look as broadly as possible for opportunities and not limit yourself to only manufacturing. You can always start a venture in services domain, and then if highly successful, can diversify into manufacturing.
Finally it is enough to say that today, on the worldwide web, there are so many forums which give you easy access to a wide market across the globe, and also a lot of help and support as you take on this journey. The opportunities are unlimited. It is you who will set the limits that are only decided by ‘your’ willingness to explore!