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Learnings of an Entrepreneur

The entrepreneur’s hat is an awesome one by any stretch of imagination. The buck stops at you. You are the last resort. Period. That more than anything else, ensures continued self assessment and its concomitant – an on-going self evolution for the better. Especially if there is an implicit internal commitment to build an excellent organization with sustainable values respecting the eco-system in its totality. The outcome is story that run along the lines of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – I have not read the book, but do have an inkling [based on the assortment of quips and quotes] on the fare it provides.

This piece has a limited agenda, though and just intends to target of at least 4 posts a month, in as elegant and useful a form as the time, mood and other self imposed [read conditioned] constraints permit. :)

One thing I can state loud and clear – entrepreneurship is quite an enthralling thing and it is much easier than I imagined when I embarked on this road. I say that, notwithstanding the facts that I have missed the 3 year, 5 year and 7 year goals ;) in terms of numbers. But something tells me, that in the past few weeks I have finally cracked the algo. Whats that!!

In 10 words entrepreneurship is: vision, sustainable values, people and habits/conditionings to protect the values.

In 7 key words and not so pithy and somewhat abstruse 100 odd words, entrepreneurship is:
• vision – aligned with long term social value;
• values - solid and sustainable shared organizational values;
• team - selection, empowerment of the team and communication amongst the team; sharing of culture of excellence as an end [and not a means to an end]; investing time to understand the differences [competency levels and motivation drivers] amongst different people
• internalization of implied risk-return trade-off - of different roles/stake-holders in organization and eco-system and zealously protecting difference and the associated hygiene factor to be a core value;
• a magnanimity - to prioritise values over self image, public image and growth priorities;
• staying power – trying till you evolve enough to hit the upward spiral;
• the humility,courage and wisdom [and this - most importantly] – to constantly to look for a dimension of self change. So as to maintain the balance in the above 6 points and to decide which battles to lose continually - to win the larger war. To be committed to correct [not justify – under the garb of practicality] when there is a realization that one of the above basics are mis-placed.

The last and the most important point is the crux. Question self continuously to change, evolve self and organization’s understood/implied [internalised and/or articulated] vision, values and conditionings. The inevitable fact is that organizations will falter, again and again in retaining the balance of the 7 pillars. The key is how early one identifies the gap and more importantly how much commitment one shows to restore / create a balance when one realizes the gap. The greatest test of comes, when one [again inevitably and although hopefully infrequently] realizes that the gap is a bit wide and the efforts to restore would be both time consuming and trying.

On a different note, in different phases of the organization life cycle, a different balance amongst all the different components need to be struck. This makes the commitment of change an ongoing exercise and the ultimate value. Initially change quickly to survive well and subsequently change continuously to serve all stakeholders well. This goes back to the older debate on Survival vs Service.

The apparently large issues of strategy, business model and execution excellence will be almost intuitively taken care of when the above factors are in place [I ll write some other time specifically on these issues]. However a focus on strategy, business model and execution excellence will not automatically guarantee the 7 pillars above and hence will not guarantee sustainability and success. If we move to the other end of the spectrum, and focus hugely on transactions – that can create the recipe of disappointments and long term disaster.

September 30, 2010
Ps: I don’t know, whether I will read this piece again. But I hope I read this regularly enough. Will help to keep the bearings right.


  1. To me, this sounds more corporate than entrepreneurship or, may be, the phase 2 of entrepreneurship.
    Can I add a few things the way I see it:
    1. A burning passion to make a difference to the cause (self/society/family/science ...whatever)
    2. Rock solid conviction in the cause
    3. Unshakable self-confidence (person or team) that it can pull it off
    4. Belief that failure will not crush meaning of life, responsibility to others etc.

  2. the above...were given..the rest are relevant only if the above are true..

    so maybe in that sense the second phase of entrepreneurship...where the entity starts aping the corporate set-up a bit more..



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