Our reflections as we think back on Simerjeet’s talk on Entrepreneurship to MBA students at the Inter Business School Summit held at Sharda University in April, 2011 !
Have you grown up in urban India post 1988??
Does the tune“ Papa kehte hain bada naam karega;
beta hamara aisa kaam karega !” resonate with you?
The above lyrics, which are from a song in the superhit Hindi movie Qayamat se qayamat tak,
“Papa says my son shall be famous.
His deeds will bring him fame.”
We might as well ask –
Don’t you know that you carry the potential to make a difference?
Oh, well, who cares?
After all (as the well-known joke goes)
If knowing and doing were the same, less than 1% of the world would be married !
We go through MBA and you bet we have a solid grounding on various aspects & technical organs of enterprises that shape / contribute to life around it.
(Our grandparents lacked this advantage)
We know better!
Do we DO better?
The usual use we make of this far better knowing is-
To join the rat race for a job – praying that it be a better one – and add volume to the current shape of life around as we scramble for a slightly bigger piece of the CURRENT pie.
What was meant to be a thrilling journey of exploration, adventure and achievement fizzles out to be a mundane existence and a life of ‘quiet desperation’…
“Is this the way it was meant to be?”
Study hard, be a good student (i.e. don’t ask a lot of questions), do well in exams, get a job, get married and have kids, work harder, EMIs, credit cards, business cards, wrestle your way up the corporate ladder and then retire and babysit the grandkids…
Could this story be scripted differently?
And there are some torchbearers who can lead the way and show us how. One of the most compelling examples of entrepreneurial grit and persistence in the Indian context is Mr. Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder of the country’s most popular job portal – Naukri.com and whose entrepreneurial journey inspired this article.
Is it easy?
Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder of Naukri.com struggled for 13 years and while his friends were taking exotic holidays abroad and leading the good life, Sanjeev couldn’t even take a salary from his venture for more than 3 years. “That was tough” recalls Sanjeev in an interview with Rediff.com.
Is it rewarding?
In Sanjeev’s words “…but the thing about doing your own business is that you are probably very happy even though you are not making money, for the simple reason that you are in control of your life and priorities and that is important to me.”
The breakthrough lies in following one’s dreams and in this particular talk Simerjeet was pointing this young and eager audience of over 300 MBAs towards Entrepreneurship.
Could we take half a step back for a clearer look?
(BTW—“beta hamara aisa kaam karega” still fascinates us!)
ENTREPRENEUR – The Oxford English Dictionary defines an Entrepreneur as a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. It’s interesting to note the origin of the word from French entreprendre which means to ‘undertake’.
An Entrepreneur in Simerjeet’s opinion is someone who undertakes the responsibility and the significant risk to achieve his/her dreams; adds value in the process and is able to lead a life where he/she has the freedom to determine his priorities.
But being an Entrepreneur is not the proverbial cup of tea for everyone. Simerjeet’s focus in this session was to demystify the process and the entrepreneurial gene for these young MBAs and invite them on a journey on the road less travelled…
Here are some excerpts from the session –
Key number 1 – DREAM
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
The entrepreneurs who have added tremendous value to the world economy and whose grit and vision brought radically new ideas to life, all speak about an internal knowing that fuelled their belief to pursue their dreams.
In Sanjeev Bikhchandani’s case although there were no business people in his family and the norm was that he would become a doctor or an engineer (he calls these as the standard middle class aspirations of parents in government service)YET he had a knowing all along since he was 12 or 13 that he was going to do an MBA and start his own company.
Now, that will resonate with many b-school graduates but the question is how many actually dare to follow their dreams?
Key Number 2 – DARE
There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love;
there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.
Dr. Wayne Dyer
It is often said that ideas are useless unless they are used.
Successful entrepreneurs are able to hang on to the Aha! moment long enough to visualize the first steps towards achieving their goals.
And wait, did we mention uncertainly? Because that is the domineering force right now. It’s all hazy and mixed up yet underneath lies something exciting.
And entrepreneurs are driven by this strong urge to discover and unveil it to the world.
For Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the aha! moment was when he noticed that his colleagues read Business India back to front because that’s where all the job postings were. Serendipity would lead him to a stall at the annual IT Asia Exhibition in New Delhi with the words WWW written on it.
He was able to ‘connect the dots’ and a seed was planted in the form of Naukri.com that would later, after many hardships, blossom into profitable enterprise.
Apparent obstacles appear as opportunities to the inspired mind. On being told that there were only 14,000 internet connections in the country, Sanjeev’s response was ‘Wow’!
“I realized that for an entrepreneur the real risk is often a lot less that the perceived risk before you jump” says Sanjeev.
So, if you’re tempted to tread on the road less travelled and be an entrepreneur, please don’t tell the fire of your dreams – “I shall give you fuel AFTER you give me warmth and light”. You’ve got to be willing to take the risk and it will be your belief in your ideas that will give you the courage to risk it all.
Key Number 3 – DO
Honore de Balzac
Successful entrepreneurs have this amazing ability to embrace failure and to bounce back stronger every time. They are constantly learning; absorbing things like a sponge and relentlessly experimenting until they come up with their blockbusters. The key challenge here for young entrepreneurs is to understand their business ideas can either propel them to success in a very short span of time (as in the case of Mark Zuckerberg) or take a very long period of time (13 years in the case of Sanjeev Bhikchandani).
There will be many temptations and distractions along the way therefore it is the staying power; the grit and determination of the entrepreneur that is going to be the key factor in this phase.
Heed Mark Zuckerberg’s words– “I’m here to build something for the long term. Anything else is a distraction”
And it is important to remember that entrepreneurship is always work in progress. One can sit back and relax for a while to take stock of the journey but be prepared to say goodbye to the comfort and security of working for someone else.
But that’s probably the reason why you signed up in the first place!
A thought- seed was sown in over 300 fertile minds in Greater Noida at Sharda University by Simerjeet Singh during the Inter- Business School Summit organized jointly by Sharda University and The University of Malta supported by the High Commission of Malta.
Malta’s High Commissioner to India, Theresa Cutajar was also present at this Summit.
About Simerjeet Singh-
(Credits – Information in the public domain; Sanjeev Bikhchandani’s Interview with rediff.com (http://www.rediff.com/money/2007/jan/24inter.htm) The amazing story of the making of Naukri.com