A few years back, I was meeting a friend from good old college days. During our discussions around our current work, an interesting topic came up.
He (like most of the people in a job) was frustrated. According to him, life was tough and he was every day solving challenges which according to him were bigger than the challenges faced by entrepreneurs.
Well! I was a newbie startup owner (back then) who had just shifted from job to entrepreneurship sometime back.
I knew how life is in the job and I knew very well – how it is being an entrepreneur.
Since i was struggling as an entrepreneur, i advised him about not starting a new venture just out of frustration from his current job.
I told him that there is no harm in breaking free from the shackles of a 9 to 9 job? (yeah – 9 to 9 because 9 to 6 is the “sacred job” held by govt department employees and since you are reading the blog, I am assuming you are not one of them 🙂 . Well! why would you want to let go off all the “under the table” income and take such a risk!)
Where was I? Oh yes. We were talking about my friend wanting to quit your job.
So, he wanted to quit his job. A job where he was (according to him) made to slog endlessly – working for a tyrant boss, who did not give two hoots about the hard work, you put into making the company – A Success.
And here he was – Hating his job. Hating his life. Living the life, burdened by the miseries of your mundane job.
He was like most of us (guys in the job). In a stage where your mind wants you to play the safe game by sticking to the routine and your heart wants you to follow your dream.
So you have read about the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs and you think, you are all set to start a new life.
Is it time for you to Start your own Startup?
Nope, It is not. Especially, when you are thinking from the heart and not your brain (logic).
Take a deep breath. Confront the tyrant. Think again about why you need to start a startup.
Think again because starting a startup or small business is not easy.
8 out of 10 startups fail and 70% of them fail after 10 years of being in business. Even when they are old, their failure rate only increases.
What you read and heard as the challenges entrepreneurs face when starting a new venture were nothing in comparison to what you will face in real life.
The usual challenges/problems you will face as an Entrepreneur when starting a small business or a startup are:
– Raising Funds: No one would want to invest in your idea. So you got to find a way to survive the initial days with your own money.
– Finding the right Team: No one wants to join a new company with a lot of ideas waiting to go live. If the idea fails, the company fails.
– Finding New Customers: How many times have you brought from a startup? My guess is none. Recently we launched a startup to sell home decor stuff and trust me, none of our acquaintance bought from us.
It’s only when they saw us selling to others on ecommerce websites, did they come back and take some risk. Such is life 🙁
– Multi-Tasking: You will be wearing multiple hats. From being the sales guy to the accounts head, you will be the guy who has to – know it all. Compare it with the KRA you had in your last job, you will be surprised to find how difficult it is to do it all. Time will be your biggest enemy and ally in such situations.
Use it to your advantage.
– Taxations and govt regulations: Irrespective of whichever country you are in, the government knows how to play a spoilsport. If only your current problems were not enough, you will deal with customers trying to put the govt tax you charge in your net amount or you might do some tax mistake yourself and then your life will be a living hell.
Worse, if you stay in a country like ours, you can just wait for them to give a knock at your door asking for your audits which will never be as per their expectations.
– Mentorship and Training: I know they say – you do not need any training to be an entrepreneur. I have been through the grind and trust me, few meaningful entrepreneurship development programmes won’t harm any one. The ones conducted by the government currently are decent but they, lack the necessary support from corporates.
And then, there are the challenges which will come uninvited within a few days of you starting your journey.
Here is what you need to know about startups. Contrary to what you see and read in media, Startups are no fancy rides where you get to sit on a driver’s seat driving your team around – enjoying the challenges of life.
Startups and small businesses are dangerous. They are what you call as ticking time bombs, waiting to explode on your face.
You should never start a startup or a small business because you are annoyed with your boss or are bedazzled by all those big evaluations you hear or read in your financial newspaper.
They speak about startups and small businesses that constitute a very small % of ventures which reach that level.
This is the year when the country is all gung-ho over Startup India, Stand up India. Optimism is in Air.
And here I am writing an article – why not to start a startup!
Does that make me a villain, cynic, moron?
Trust me. I am not the party spoiler. I have been through the drill.
I am someone who has spent the good part of his younger days setting up a business from scratch.
Believe me, after years of toiling hard in the market – our business finally managed to find its feet around 2 years back.
If someone asks me to go through the drill again. I will think twice.
I have been there, done that. Failed there. Started again and succeeded, without any external funding. I understand the challenges faced when starting a small business.
My advice to everyone looking to start a startup is:
You do not need to start up:
- If you want to be a businessman and not work under someone:
I hear this a lot. “I want to be a businessman because I do not want to work for anyone.”
When I hear this. My usual reaction is “Eh. Seriously? Does this mean, you will not report to your clients? Tolerate tantrums of your employees (at times)?”
Get your priorities right, my friend. We all work for someone or the other.
You might not have a boss as an entrepreneur but you have clients, who pay you and you have employees who at times, can make you report to them 😀
- You think you are going to be rich in the next 1 to 2 years:
Since I started my entrepreneurial journey, I have gone broke. Made some money. Gone broke again and finally, found a started earning decent money, after years of slogging.
If you think you want to start a venture to get rich soon. Get a reality check.
All that glitters is not gold. If things go south (something that will happen to you in entrepreneurship) , You just might go broke and even end up losing whatever little you had as savings.
- You are a married person with a lot of commitments including of EMI, loans. A good healthy lifestyle which you cannot tone down.
The lot in this section is tricky. They want to start a venture with the existing lifestyle they now have.
With a new venture, you have to live a sage’s life till your business breaks even or make some profits. Trust me, you do not want to take the plunge with so much of the load on your back.
If you think you can support your lavish lifestyle along with running a startup. You should just throw away the idea chit you have in your pocket in the dustbin.
- You are disillusioned by the empowering word “Boss”:
Ok, I am not talking about the last Bollywood movie with this name, which was horribly horrible. I am talking about the so-called presumed perks of being called the boss.
There are so many of us who would love to be their own boss (including me). The reality is, in a start-up, there is no boss. As a matter of fact, a boss is the lowest level of hierarchy in the hierarchical structure of a startup.
Being the boss, you will be expected to get a business, manage employees, listen to clients’ tantrums, etc, etc. (the list is endless)
- You want to get millions in funding: Never ever think of starting a start-up if you assume your idea will get you million dollars in initial funding.
We have still not been funded. Not to dissuade you but you need to get a reality check.
Just because you think this is the next big thing. It does not make your idea the next big thing.
This is my first blog on lessons at startup. I don’t know if it is the right way to start this blog.
I get asked so many times about starting a start-up from aspiring entrepreneurs. Most of them want to start startups for all the wrong reasons.
Despite my positive demeanour, I seriously want to speak the truth at times. This blog is my answer to all of them who still have their priorities wrong, with starting startups.