4 easy steps to becoming a successful entrepreneur

4 easy steps to becoming a successful entrepreneurA good rule of thumb for assessing a true entrepreneur is someone who has committed a good 1000 days to something that s/he feels particularly motivated about. I feel it reflects a reasonable test of entrepreneurship as it embodies commitment and doggedness that are essential for an entrepreneur to succeed. People talk about early stage funding, networking, and technology as being the core of entrepreneurship, but in my view while these are all important elements. The core of entrepreneurship is embracing early stage challenges and being resolute in the face of adversity.

India in its present context faces monumental challenges with respect to job creation and building enterprises for the future. It requires able leadership and an enabling environment. The government needs to provide simplify the process for getting initial regulatory clearances and to if required set up institutions that entrepreneurs can approach for getting funding. From the viewpoint of leadership, it requires efficient management and also new forms of entrepreneurship like social entrepreneurship. The core of the leadership challenge from the viewpoint of an entrepreneur is his commitment and to the cause he is serving. With 10 million people entering the workforce every month, a huge opportunity presents itself in raising the standards for our ever increasing middle class, if the entrepreneurship engine starts running effectively. It can only happen if the government and business come together to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, one where people are given more freedom and opportunity to take risks.

During a recent interaction with Klaus Haasis, the Founder Chairman of the European Interest Group on Creativity and Innovation we talked about how entrepreneurs in India even without an enabling ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship could create value. We thought of applying some simple approaches that can help such an entrepreneur minimize her/his risks and be successful in her/his endeavor.

1. Fridge Approach. Entrepreneurs need to embrace what we term the fridge approach. It is especially true in the Indian context with minimal or at times suboptimal resources. It means that as any homeowner needs to know what is inside a fridge, to cook a good meal, an entrepreneur needs to know himself and his resources extremely well to deliver value. It could include starting with very existential questions like Who I am? What do I know? Whom do I know? etc.

2. Tradeoffs and Affordable Loss. It is critical to understand tradeoffs and what it means to have an affordable loss. At times all may not be going an entrepreneur’s way but it is imperative to empower oneself with not only knowledge and expertise, but most importantly a strong network, that minimizes the risk to a point where it becomes an affordable loss rather than a complete one. It serves as a risk mitigation measure to the threat of failure.


3. Commitment. It is also important to look for mutual commitments in the network that go beyond the routine and involve open questioning and bonding. Adaptation is also required for shifts in perspective that could help in resolving critical tradeoffs like making it yourself or choosing a partner for doing it, etc. It is important to look for a good partner, and once you have one, it is equally important to negotiate with her/him over the terms of engagement. It helps one be rooted and at the same time adaptable.

4. Language of Entrepreneurship. it is advisable to use the language of entrepreneurship within your network as well as in business. With the significant growth of entrepreneurship as an academic field of study and something that people aspire to do, the language around it has been revolutionized. It has enabled one to understand the so-called intricacies in much greater depth and with clarity. It is important for a budding entrepreneur to use language of entrepreneurship to communicate as it helps to build trust and greater understanding with peers and his network.

These basic approaches can help budding entrepreneurs to channelize their energies to what matters most for being successful. It can also help India massive population to reach middle-income levels over the next couple of decades.

( Dr. Amit Kapoor is President and CEO of India Council on Competitiveness and Honorary Chairman of Institute for Competitiveness, India. He tweets @kautiliya and can be contacted at amit.kapoor@competitiveness.in )