There are lots of articles which teach entrepreneurs how to create a business plan and how to pitch to investors, but the need for personal emotional resilience and fortitude is not emphasised enough. While it may seem that being an entrepreneur is very sexy, the truth is that it can be a lonely and difficult journey. The media adulates the ones who have made it big, and we love to hero worship icons like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. They are our role models, and every entrepreneur thinks he is going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. They don't read about the trials and tribulations which founders have to deal with on a daily basis, and are completely unprepared to cope with the daily grind which running and startup entails.
The truth is that you will hear No a hundred times before you get a single Yes - and this is true, whether you talk to customers; prospective employees; and potential investors ! Even your family members will dissuade you, and will encourage you to take a safe and steady job ( " At least for the first few years, till you settle down "), rather than support you in your quest.
You will need to have a lot of courage and conviction - both on yourself, and your dreams. You will need to become selectively deaf, and learn when to ignore the advice of well-meaning elders.
You will need to trust your gut, and this can be hard - especially when you seem to be a lone voice crying in the wilderness. You will need to pay attention to feedback, and also learn to develop a thick skin, when people trot out a hundred reasons as to why you will fail. Even though you know that the odds are stacked against you, you will need to find the courage to continue going on - and this can be hard to do when an investor turns you down once again.
Every founder's path is unique, and there are no set formulas, which is what makes the journey so stimulating and exciting. It can be hard to sleep at night when you don't know how you will be able to pay salaries the next week; but it can be equally exhilarating when you get a great new idea , and customers line up to pay for your clever new product !
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and whether or not you make it big, I can promise you that you will learn far more about yourself and the world if you choose to explore this route !
You need to find people who believe in you - cheerleaders who will help you recover when you stumble and fall. Have realistic expectations, and take responsibility for your failures, rather than try to pass the buck or blame others. No one ever said the ride would be easy, but if you are curious and willing to work hard, entrepreneurship will help you grow and mature very quickly as a person with many talents ! You need to have the maturity and strength of character to measure your progress by your inner scorecard, rather than allow others to judge you. As long as you march of the beat of your inner drummer, you will be contented, and as Rudyard Kipling said - " and what's more, you'll be a man my son" !
NB I apologise in advance for the use of the male gender - but it's not easy to write he/she and him/her all the time !
-By Dr. Aniruddha Malpani