SID07 at Shark Tank India

7 Essential Possessions of an Entrepreneur

Is there any person or algorithm who or which, respectively, can predict with absolute certainty, whether an idea for a product or technology can be converted into a successful business or not? There have been many successful products and even more successful people behind them in the history of the world. Recently, I got to talk to a few commercially successful entrepreneurs who have given the world at least one product that was accepted by the vast majority of people overwhelmingly in a significantly large market and to a few professionally successful senior executives who, through their leadership, had made incredibly vital contribution towards the success of their organization’s business over a long period of time. For me, these conversations were meant to get more clarity on the viability of my ideas- for physical products, business models and execution. Every conversation was more insightful than the previous one, not because I learnt more than I did in the previous conversation but because, for every conversation, the insights or lessons were completely different, mostly contradictory! Normally, this would drag a person into confusion and, if anything, lead them away from the clarity they were seeking in the first place but for me the entire exercise was a revelation.

Almost every entrepreneur who has made a successful business, made several failed attempts in the same ‘direction’ before that. Generally, it takes multiple iterations of many raw ideas in one ‘direction’ to arrive at the one that bears fruit. So if you expect this successful entrepreneur with all of his or her expertise, exposure and experience in one ‘direction’ to give you a true judgement of your idea, which is in a ‘direction’ different to the ‘direction’ he or she has been successful in cracking the code for, you would be expecting too much. At this point, I should clarify what I mean by ‘direction’. ‘Direction’, in the context of this paragraph could be the field of work, industry or even a market segment where the entrepreneur is focused to solve a problem. Like for Steve Jobs at Apple, it was making personal computers that could be used by everyone; for Elon Musk at Tesla, it was making electric cars mainstream; for Peyush Bansal at Lenskart, it was providing clear affordable vision to everyone in India.

So, even the most successful entrepreneur’s opinion of your idea might not really give you the best indication of the probability of success of a business built around it. I have realized that the idea is the most iterative and ever changing component of all the crucial things an entrepreneur needs to focus on. Building on some of Simon Sinek’s ideas from the books Start with Why and The Infinite Game; Bill Aulet’s ideas from the book Disciplined Entrepreneurship; insights from high-value adding people like Peyush Bansal, Kunal Shah, Ashwani Aggarwal, Asha Sharma, Vikas Gupta, Puneet Kanodia etc. here are the seven crucial possessions, according to me, which an entrepreneur must possess to have a high probability of building an infinitely relevant and self evolving organization.

1. Your ‘Why’ | Reason for Existence

The reason you get out of bed every morning, inspired to work 16-18 hours on an idea without any breaks or sometimes even food. A purpose, a calling, a mission, but one that is bigger than you, so big that it can not be possibly achieved in one lifetime, one that includes the wellbeing of a significant number of people or even other organisms. And no, you are NOT born with it. No one is born with a ‘why’ stamped on their but cheek. You have to find it, not outside, but within. Why do you think that most successful people, invariably wake up early? That is one time in the day where your external interactions are at their minimum and hence getting in sync with your ‘why’ is easier.

2. Your ‘Just Cause’ | Vision

Your Just Cause is your ‘vision’ of a better world. A world that you envision to be a part of in the future. A world that is far better than the current one you’re living in. A world, to build which you want to be the one making a significant contribution.

3. Your ‘How’ | Process

Your ever-evolving process. While your ‘why’ and ‘just cause’ should not ideally change, your process needs to stay current and keep evolving over time. Your process is your detailed method to achieve what you say you want to achieve. It needs to be thorough.  Your ‘how’ is also something you and your team are going to be indulged in everyday, so the part of the process each team member is assigned has to be stimulating to their core- their passions need to be aligned with their roles.

4. Your ‘What’ | Idea(s)

This is your idea, your product or your technology on the surface level. Your what should be definable in one sentence and that sentence should be understandable to a normal person walking on the street while that person is munching on a sandwich. While your ‘how’ might need updating every 12-48 months, your ‘what’ or your idea or your solution might need to be changed much more frequently than that because as I said before, many ideas might have to fail to get to the one that clicks with the world, because the world is a complex place after all, and it keeps changing all the time.

5. Your Execution | Team

This is probably the most important possession and one that could well be the difference between you getting from point A to point B in one year or ten years. Execution needs a ‘team’. It can’t be done alone, even if you are superman (even he works in a team!). You need to be able to quickly find people you align with on your ‘why’ or who have a similar calling, who  share a similar ‘just cause’ or vision, who believe in the ‘how’ or the process as much as you do if not more and (very important) can take a complementary role in the process, who can be agile and detached from the product/idea when it comes to letting go and quickly change course.

6. Your Ability to Act on your Instincts | Risk Taking Ability

You can have all the first 5 possessions, but when it come to hustling, making a move, taking that overnight bus to reach another city to crack an investment deal in the morning or just plain going all in when the chips are down, if you are hesitant, shy, scared, overwhelmed or anything else that makes you not to take the step that needs to be taken, then entrepreneurship is not for you. You should stop reading this right now, consider having learnt something in the last 10 minutes and scroll through that social media app you have been putting off for the last 10 minutes.

7. Your Ability to Inspire Others to Act with you | Leadership Ability

As I said before, entrepreneurship is a team sport. As a leader you need to be able to inspire action, not just from your team but also from other important stake holders- investors, customers, influencers, media and you need to be able to do this without offering any fiscal incentives. One way I have witnessed some of the greatest leaders of my time be able to inspire millions, even billions is by having a ‘why’ or purpose that resonates with everyone and a ‘just cause’ or vision of the world of which everyone wants to be a part of and being able to communicate their ‘why’ and their ‘just cause’ to huge groups of diverse people, almost effortlessly.

After 4 years of struggling, stumbling and learning as an entrepreneur, I managed to bag an opportunity to be on Shark Tank India, Season 1. Here, I am not going to talk about what happened on the show. you can watch that for yourself. While I did get a deal on the show from Peyush, which later transformed into a much better arrangement between me and his company, Lenskart, my experience on the show, triggered me into asking some very strong fundamental questions from myself. I decided to take a break from entrepreneurship for sometime, get back to the drawing board and rework on my basics. And after approximately 4 months of exiling myself from SID07, I am back.

Because as Rocky Balboa said: ‘It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.’

Watch this space.

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SID07 at Shark Tank India

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