The word ‘entrepreneur’ is derived from the French word ‘entreprende’ meaning ‘to undertake’, and the dictionary definition says, “entrepreneur is owner or manager of a business enterprise, who by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits”.
Peter Drucker defines ‘entrepreneur’ as someone who always searches for change, responds to it and then exploits it as an opportunity.
After the economic reforms of 1991, India has seen a tremendous increase in entrepreneurial activity which has led to a high rate of growth of GDP and therefore, per capita income. Today, rich and poor can become entrepreneurs.
I believe the traits critical to becoming entrepreneurs can be acquired consciously and through experience. And India now has an emerging system to support the creation of new entrepreneurs. Here is my list of five essential qualities:
Belief and passion
The single most important reason why Steve Jobs was successful with Apple was his belief in his idea and product – the idea that people would pay for good design and easy to use devices. Closer home, redBus has become as big as it has because its founders believed in the idea many consumers travel by bus and do not have access to complete information regarding routes or operators, and that bus operators and travellers would benefit from such a service.
The first ingredient to be an entrepreneur is really to find an idea that can change the world and believe in it blindly and passionately. This will help you through the inevitable ups and downs of the journey, it will enable you to identify people who can join you, and finally move people to fund you.
Desire to chart your own path
Being an entrepreneur is often a lonely journey – you create a path where none exists and then drive down it – through good and bad weather. All entrepreneurs have a strong desire to chart their own course. This doesn’t mean you need to be a leader with a mass following or that only leaders can be good entrepreneurs. It only means you must be comfortable doing what you are going to do.
Dealing with uncertainty
Since an entrepreneur is often charting an unknown path, s/he will be called to make decisions with limited or no information and has to go with gut instincts. When Steve Jobs created the iPod, he didn’t do any research or talk to consumers; he went with his instinct that people would want music on the go and would be willing to buy single tracks over an entire music album. When Bill Gates started on his journey to set up Microsoft, he believed that computing power was moving to desktops and that large mainframe computers would become extinct.
Tenacity is a virtue that is critical for success in all spheres of life but perhaps a lot more in the case of an entrepreneurial journey. An idea takes a while to convert into a viable business. It is tenacity that helps entrepreneurs find their moorings. In the stories told of successful entrepreneurs, their failures are often glossed over. But the Jobs and Infosys stories are filled with many failures before they saw success.
Enjoy being a salesperson
The first role an entrepreneur plays is that of a salesperson. S/he has to sell his/her idea to family, friends, customers, investors, employees and all other stakeholders. An entrepreneur must be willing to sell his idea at all times to all persons – if you aren’t comfortable being a sales person, then entrepreneurship isn’t your calling!
Today, our country faces tremendous problems and these can only be solved by entrepreneurs with their imaginative and inventive solutions. Despite the global doom, we all live in a unique time for India. Look around yourself. Find the problems that you feel for. And go out there and create a solution Whether success or failure awaits you you will be better for the experience. And who will know unless you strive for it, if you are the next Jobs or Zuckerburg?
Bharati Jacob is the Founder-Partner of Seedfund