Startup eSeries: It's Not About Being Chicken-Hearted, It's About Getting Started! - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Startup eSeries: It's Not About Being Chicken-Hearted, It's About Getting Started!

Oct 18, 2014


I took a tour to Kashmir this May. I was with a group of women from diverse walks and ages of life. Our tour manager was a young Kashmiri guy, street smart and business savvy. He spoke English well, had travelled to the commercial capital of India, Mumbai, several times, and could handle a whole bunch of cackling women with surprising ease, which said a lot about his management skills.

When we asked him how he got into the travel business, he told us that he had a full-time job and this was his "side" business. Since tourism in Kashmir is seasonal, he works at his regular job all year and when the season starts, takes a few days off as and when he gets business assignments, forfeits his salary for those days, and conducts group tours. It was an easy calculation for him: The amount of money he made through the tours was more than what he would make on the job in those few days.

You will find several such entrepreneurs who keep their main job and continue a "side" business as we call it in India. It's their way of ensuring financial security, continuous work, and still gives them the opportunity to try their hand at entrepreneurship.

I also got my first assignment as an entrepreneur when I was still at a full-time job. One of the main reasons I became a full-fledged entrepreneur was because a project at my job got shelved and the department was shut down. Luckily, I managed to go official with my venture, and keep working on the project independently. It was perfect timing and maybe meant to be. But had I not been pushed by circumstances, I may have continued being, what our wealth coach Mark Ford calls, a "chicken entrepreneur".

A chicken entrepreneur, as Mark describes it, is someone who is too chicken, ie. too scared, to quit their job to start a business. Instead, like Mark did, they keep their risk low by starting the business on the side.

A 'Chicken' Entrepreneur
A 'Chicken' Entrepreneur
Source: Rashevskyi Viacheslav / Shutterstock

Mark Ford decided to become wealthy while he was editor at a publishing company. When he decided he wanted to become rich he tried many strategies, and found that becoming an entrepreneur was the best decision he ever made to become rich.

That's pretty much how most of us start out, right? Wanting to make that extra buck. Either to make more investments for a better life, pursue more dreams or to indulge in some extra luxuries.

I remember my first stint as an entrepreneur was when I was doing my masters. My sister had been making candles at home and I asked her to teach me as well. I started creating fun candles to gift to friends and family on festivals like Diwali, and soon they began to place their own orders. Encouraged by this I approached a small chocolate shop near my college to stock my candles. They agreed, and thus a business was born.

Do you know what I did with the money earned from those candles? I bought my first mobile phone! Over a decade ago, that was a big deal.

Your small business ideas may die if you don't pursue them; but if you do, they may grow into big businesses that can eventually become your mainstay. So, as Mark says, "The whole point is just to get started."

And sometimes the simplest way is to start out is with exactly what you have. This could be a skill, a talent, an idea that has already worked for you or is already working in the market. Additionally, start out with a low investment, work part-time and better still work from home. With the world connected by the internet, marketing your product too has become much simpler.

Mark advises chicken entrepreneurs to, "Start with something that's very easy to do, very likely to succeed, and just get a taste for it. Develop it later on, use the extra cash, put it in the bank and then when you get a little bit more confident, then go up to Step Number 2, where it's a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more complicated, with a little bit more of a challenge to you..."

And once the challenges have increased, the income has grown and when you're in a fairly safe space, you can then decide to take the next step to full-fledged entrepreneurship. But this can be a scary and courageous one, bringing with it a lot of risk and uncertainty. Thus, many entrepreneurs have trouble figuring out the right time to make the switch from chicken entrepreneurship to full-fledged entrepreneurship.

I remember when I was still ruminating about the big plunge, a cousin gave me some sound words of advice, "When you start out on your own, target making as much money as you made per month on your job. If you match that figure, you'll have met success." Mark in his writings on entrepreneurship gives similar theories on how to keep track of your financial progress. He devised the following three numbers that he believes that are important for each person to keep in mind for financial security. :

Lifestyle Burn Rate (LBR): Mark describes the LBR as, "A critical number... the first step towards developing financial independence." It's essentially a sum total of how much you spend per year plus any additional lifestyle elements that you would like to add. This figure will help you to understand how much the lifestyle you want to live costs, giving you a better idea of how to plan your financial future.
Start-Over-Again (SOA): At any stage of your entrepreneurial career you may want to start all over again, maybe start a new venture. For this Mark recommends setting aside an SOA fund, an amount that you need just in case you lose everything. The ideal amount for this can be estimated by calculating your LBR per month and then multiplying it by the number of months you foresee your venture to be in gestation mode.
Take a Hike (TAH): And this is my personal favourite... It's the sum of money you need to tell anyone to "take a hike". As an entrepreneur, it could be used to say no to a client, take a sabbatical or relocate and try a new venture elsewhere. Your TAH rate is determined by subtracting any additional fixed income you have from your LBR and then multiplying it by 13. The resulting amount is your passive income, one you can live on when you decide not to work.

Becoming an entrepreneur and building wealth need not be as scary as you imagine. It really comes down to wanting to make more money and creating multiple income streams. And you will be surprised as to how resourceful you actually are when you start a business. All your apprehensions and fears will automatically find their solutions.

And if not, we at the Wealth Builders Club under the mentorship of Mark Ford can support you to take you forward in your entrepreneurial journey. To learn more about this Club, click here.


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3 Responses to "Startup eSeries: It's Not About Being Chicken-Hearted, It's About Getting Started!"


20 Oct, 2014

Various practical examples given e.g.making candles at home,are very encouraging.They show one can start with small and make it big.

Like (1)

Dinesh Shah

20 Oct, 2014

Feel so nice to hear the story of people who are great. Also good to hear about the common sense present in every person. Do tell me as to what do the housewives would do when retired.

c. sridharan

19 Oct, 2014

The article "Startup eSeries" is worth reading. One will get really motivated to do something additional in life apart from daily routine job and to make money in genuine way.


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