Startup eSeries: Walking the Middle Path of Entrepreneurship - Common Sense Living Newsletter
 
Common Sense Living India

Startup eSeries: Walking the Middle Path of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship
Life
Jul 04, 2015

 

A couple of months ago in a conversation with my friend, we were talking about how noisy Indian cities are, almost making it difficult to focus on your work and life. I couldn't agree with him more. It's strange but I think I've gotten so used to the noise that I would be uncomfortable living in a place like Switzerland, where even the sound of a pin dropping makes you alert.

Of course you need to retreat to quiet places like Switzerland too, to recharge your batteries and shut away the sounds of the world... It makes you more creative, brings you closer to yourself and nature, and ultimately helps you come back to the madness with a little more method.

In entrepreneurship, as in life, the quiet is as much needed as the noise. You need to feel chaos and you need to feel calm. You need to feel uncertain as you need to feel surges of hope and certainty, you need to work in spells of loneliness as you need to make pitches in a packed room of people.

An entrepreneur is always walking a tight rope, doing a balancing act between two completely different states of being. From times of no work to periods of being swamped in too much work, from being flushed with funds to having barely enough to keep the enterprise afloat and from touching pinnacles of success to seeing great depths of failure... the entrepreneur moves from one extreme to another.

Find Your Balance
Source: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

Sometimes the polarities can be so disturbing, that you lose your equilibrium - that ideal state which brings together two opposites, gets the creative in sync with the rational and helps you achieve your optimal potential.

But what are the opposites that wreak havoc in an entrepreneur's life and how does he go about restoring his balance? In today's essay, I list some polarities that put most entrepreneurs in a dilemma. However, they can be overcome with a positive attitude and a little effort.

Creative Genius v/s Profit Maven

For those with a creative bent of mind, who would rather absorb themselves in colours and fonts, in texture and landscapes, or in software coding and product design, picking up that call from a pestering client can be annoying, if not downright disruptive.

But dare any entrepreneur ignore the dagger of monetization hanging over his head. Any business is successful only if it is profitable, and that will happen if clients are satisfied. Entrepreneurs have to come back to the drawing board time and time again to assess if their numbers are making sense. On the other hand, getting consumed by the excel sheet can also demoralize you and create a huge disconnect from your original vision.

Strike a balance by dividing your day between creating and counting, use an hour or two each day understanding the cash flow and visiting your metrics and then put them away.

Solitary Thinker v/s Team Builder

Entrepreneurship is almost always viewed as individualistic in nature. You are a rebel who leaves an organization, you have a vision that no one understands, you decide to build whether you get support or not and you decide to stay the course even though you're "staying hungry" and sometimes even "staying foolish".

But later down the road, you realise collaboration is everything - collaborating with investors, service providers and a team of people who understand your vision and help you take it forward. And then sometimes your team may fall apart... No sweat, just build again.

Strike a balance by keeping most of the core functions to yourself. Only delegate and outsource what you don't know, what is not your job and what will not affect the running of your business.

Restless Enthusiast v/s Patient Yogi

The reason you're probably an entrepreneur is because you were restless with the slow bureaucratic ways of organisations. You often felt, "they just don't get it." You wanted to see change quicker and you wanted to be at the heart of that change. Your restlessness made you branch out and take on the world on your own terms.

You are probably still a restless entrepreneur, but unfortunately this time you've been converted into a yogi. You have no choice but to wait out the development phase, you have no choice but to wait for your clientele to grow, you have no choice but to wait for that angel investor who will take your business to its intended destination.

Strike a balance by using your restlessness to increase productivity, and use patience in areas that you have no control over. At other times, say a prayer, chant a few oms and believe that this too shall pass.

Intellectual Nerd v/s Social Butterfly

Yes, more than half the startups are tech-based or use technology in some form or the other. It's no wonder then that half of the entrepreneurial world is filled with nerds who would actually prefer to be nerds, they'd rather hide their faces behind their laptop screens and continue dealing with the virtual world than discussing retail strategy and social media marketing.

But alas an entrepreneur has no say in this area, he has to be a social butterfly, network online, network offline, face clients, put on his best smile for venture capitalists and occasionally use chat forums to explain the workings of his product to customers. Moving from playing with gaming characters to having real-life conversations can sometimes be a difficult switch to make.

Strike the balance by interacting with people in your immediate environment and even outside your workplace, know that real people benefit from your products and make social contact whenever possible.

Stingy Owner v/s Flamboyant CEO

There is no cash flow yet, you have to bargain with vendors, you have to operate on low costs, sometimes you even have to settle for cheap labour. You may be labelled stingy, you may appear like you're going through bad times, you may stop dining at fancy restaurants, you may cut back on the travel allowance for your employees...

But you will still have to put on your best suit and Rolex watch to woo the investor. Yes, it's sad but true, you are judged by what you have and not what you're building. Your credibility is decided by how good the going is already. You have to appear like a confident CEO who knows exactly where his enterprise is headed.

Strike a balance by focusing on essentials, don't cut back expenses on processes that will enhance your product and customer experience, cut back instead on frivolities like branding exercises.

Die-hard Entrepreneur v/s Reluctant Employee

Deep down you know you were born to be an entrepreneur, you have all the traits that are needed in entrepreneurs: you think differently, you are a visionary, you have a pulse on the market and you connect the dots easily.

And till your venture doesn't see the light of day, you will simply not rest in peace. But in the meanwhile, you still need to see money coming in, you need to be somewhere and learn something, you need to juggle a job with your dreams till you can finally launch your own enterprise... till such a time you're a reluctant employee!

Strike a balance by learning in the workplace, focus on growing your network, building a corpus and garnering all the skills and resources you need till you get to your desired status of "entrepreneur".

Entrepreneurship is a see-saw of states of being, you will be one person now and another person the next moment. You will feel split and then you will feel whole... The beauty is in knowing that they are two sides of the same coin, one incomplete without the other.

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