Since ancient times, Indians have always held ‘entrepreneurship’ as a cherished goal. Entrepreneurship refers to an individual that has an idea and wants to execute on that idea, usually to disrupt the current market with a product or service. This tendency, which seems almost genetic to us, is resurfacing in recent times. An Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER) 2015 ranked India the highest among 44 countries worldwide in entrepreneurial spirit with 9 out of 10 Indians surveyed showing a strong desire to be an entrepreneur. However, the report, which was based on a survey of 50,000 respondents worldwide, noted that 90.3% of respondents in India had mentioned ‘fear of failure’.
Traditionally the definition of entrepreneurship has been limited to starting a new business, scaling up for profits and creating wealth. The new definition of entrepreneurship is all about innovation, about seeing problems as opportunities and about making the world a better place.
Entrepreneurship is all about taking calculated risks and in that spirit, ‘failure’ simply represents the chance that the risk does not pay off. So, irrespective of which industry or sector you decide to dive into, to stack the odds in your favour (read: Reduce risks within your control) here are 7 crucial characteristics that you must have or cultivate.
Having a dream may be the starting point, but visualising this dream in more concrete terms makes all the difference between the success and failure of a venture. Vision entails the ability to envisage an opportunity and quantify it. It also includes being able to spot trends emerging on the distant horizon, preferably before others can even sense it. Among other things, it involves knowing when to steer away from one idea and towards the next. While this may sound like something that is inherent to some, it’s not necessarily so. Vision is the culmination of a lot of hard work – staying well informed, researching markets and ideas, exploring what has worked and what has not, etc. And yes, there’s also an X-factor that most people call intuition, which is more likely the sub-conscious processing of all the information that you have gathered.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that every business or profession must have technology at its core, if it seeks business continuity. This held true for everything from consumption to education and healthcare to manufacturing. Beyond using technology as an enabler, it has become a crucial pivot for consumers, corporates and institutions. Fledgling enterprises that are digital natives have the opportunity to launch their products and services on the strength of their tech infrastructure and leapfrog ahead. As an entrepreneur in the post-pandemic world, having an affinity for technology has become crucial.
A sound business strategy is a classic ingredient for entrepreneurial success. However, in today’s world of business, where evolution is taking place at breakneck speeds, the strategy must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the environment, competition, policies, consumer tastes, etc., at a far greater pace than in the past. Having a strategy that is too rigid may reduce precious time to market of the enterprise’s products and solutions and, as entrepreneurs know, time is not just money, timing could be the difference between survival and extinction.
Work Ethics (and ethics in general)
Ethics, Sustainability and Governance are buzz words today, not just because they sound cool but rather because they are actually the mantra to long term business success. These attributes have to be baked into an enterprise’s core and become a culture that percolates from top to bottom, if an enterprise seeks to get funding, market share and long-term growth momentum.
Perhaps one of the oldest requirements of an entrepreneur is the ability to communicate. Conveying your vision and connecting with employees, investors, customers, creditors, peers and mentors is as crucial today as it ever was. But the mediums of communication have changed and a successful entrepreneur in today’s day must be able to choose the right medium for the right message and the right audience.
Trust the Expert
An entrepreneur is typically someone who has to wear multiple hats – the innovator, financier, marketeer, and others. It is unlikely that one individual can wear all these hats with equal aplomb. It’s not expected either. Successful entrepreneurs identify their strengths and limitations and ensure that there is a reliable support network in place to fill gaps in their capabilities. Sometimes, despite sharp domain skills, having a second opinion can be valuable too. The biggest mistake that most entrepreneurs make is the inability to delegate and trust experts. This limits growth in the long run.
The journey of an entrepreneur is typically a rocky, uphill road. Having emotional strength can be likened to having strong shoes that make the path feel less uneven and carry the entrepreneur further along the way.