Startups must know these survival skills

Startups must know these survival skills

Are you about to leave your stable job to start a promising startup? Do you think you have enough experience, ideas and funding to making it big in the startup space? Read this to know what you should ‘definitely’ have in you to survive in the ecosystem.

Are you about to leave your stable job to start a promising startup? Do you think you have enough experience, ideas and funding to making it big in the startup space? Read this to know what you should ‘definitely’ have in you to survive in the ecosystem.

Yojana Sharma,

Entrepreneurship brings in new ideas, new technologies and creates jobs. However, there’s a flipside too. Experienced professionals are leaving well-paying jobs to join the startup bandwagon. Understandably, not everyone will be successful and may have to come back to the job market!

Walking on the barbed wire

“This culture is unfortunate,” says Prof MS Rao of SP Jain Institute of Management & Research in Mumbai. He is the chairperson for Centre for Entrepreneurship and has been associated with the B-school’s ‘Start Your Business Programme’ and other related courses for long.

“We read stories of new business making millions and securing billions in funding and that creates a glamorous image. Nobody spares a thought about failed ventures. We don’t think about the struggles the successful ones would have gone through. An entrepreneur must have many other skills other than the core competency to make that cut,” says Prof Rao, who mentors wannabe entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurship programmes were started in the B-school a few years ago and since then, Prof Rao has seen many young people leave their jobs and take the course.

“Earlier in India, people thought that only the scions of business families could do successful ventures. We heard about successful businesses being founded by people of a certain community. Now we see anybody and everybody with a good idea succeeding. There is a Yadav with a big business; there is a Pandey with a bright idea. This is encouraging on one level. At the same time, it creates false aspirations too,” he says.

All that glitters is not gold

Recently, a top executive of a big firm quit his job to start an e–commerce venture. His plans were logical — he had enough savings and was a master of his trade.

However, his initial days as an entrepreneur were the worst days of his life. He was dealing with local vendors to fix IT-related issues, securing necessary approvals to run the business, hiring people, firming up business plans, drawing marketing strategy, finding co-founders all at the same time.

As expected, something or else would fall behind leaving him running after people. He says this was ‘the biggest and probably the hardest lesson’ of his life.

Like him, many don’t realise that an entrepreneur has to be a ‘jack of all trades and master of all too’.

Entrepreneurship development consultant and mentor Sujaya Rao says that while unlimited passion is required to become an entrepreneur, the job also entails unlimited skills – both technical and soft ones – to be able to live through this journey.

“For most, the idea of entrepreneurship clicks in as soon as they spot a bright spark and there are chances of getting funding too. But that is not all,” she says. “People hear glorious stories of entrepreneurs starting successful business with their savings, working from garages and get inspired quickly but nobody really inquires about the hard work that goes in there,” she says.

Ask her what a person should do before leaving his/her career midway and start entrepreneurship and Sujaya shares her checklist:

Unlimited passion – One must eat, live and breathe the dream. Only then you are ready to take it all alone. If you think you can do a job and start a business side by side, then you are fooling yourself. If you think you will ‘try business’ and may rely on something else otherwise, then also you are not fit to be an entrepreneur.

Multi-tasking – More than your work, you will be required to pitch in other tasks too. Be prepared.

New skill requirements – From recruiting to dealing with vendors at very basic level or negotiating rents, you will have to do it all. Don’t fret. If need be, take on a small course or brush up on new skills.

Accept your decisions – You may fail in few new things frequently. You may hire the wrong person, chose an expensive plan for merchandising. Accept your bad decisions and learn from them.

Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help – If you need help, ask for it graciously. There is nothing bad about discussing your weakness.

New game, new rules

Siddharth Gupta, cofounder of Treebo Hotels, worked at McKinsey and Myntra before he called it quits and started his own venture. “I had no idea what I will do after the Myntra stint. But I was certain of one thing that I wanted to create something new – a new service or new product. And the other two co-founders came from the same school of thought and had same level of commitment and passion. We met, we discussed and gradually Treebo happened,” he shares.

Ask him about leaving behind a stable job and a secure future and he says that most of successful entrepreneurs have things sorted out earlier. “In our case, our spouses were working; we had decent savings. It is not as if the household expenses would come to a halt if we left jobs. With this backing and mindset, it was easier for us to concentrate on the startup,” he says.

Talking of initial struggles, he says every entrepreneur has his own set of struggles. Some may find the planning going weak and some may find funding issues and some may struggle with manpower. “For us, things were not that rough,” he says.H

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