Entrepreneurship 101: what we missed?

Entrepreneurship 101: what we missed?

In our January 2013 edition, we published a cover story titled ‘Entrepreneurship 101 – a definitive checklist for decision-makers at startups’ in which we put together a list of 101 aspects that entrepreneurs need to think about as they manage themselves, their people and their companies. But, we didn’t want to stop with just 101 as we realised that our learnings just increase with every edition and hence the list is expanding. In this edition, we have added six aspects we missed and now make it Entrepreneurship 107! 

S. PREM KUMAR

Make sure the launch (of your product and service) is world class 

A few experts, especially in the software product world, urge entrepreneurs to launch a minimum viable product. While this strategy does hold merit in some cases, at The Smart CEO, we recommend launching a top-notch product accompanied by a top-notch launch. It doesn’t have to include all the features, but the “job” the product (or service) is “hired” to do has to be performed perfectly and the marketing around the launch should be world-class. The catch: this whole thing has to be done frugally!

Stay patient, the rewards will come over the long-term 

I remember an interview on TV (in 2008) when Nandan Nilekani, co-founder, Infosys, said one of his greatest strengths was to patiently wait for the rewards to come after a few years. Growth doesn’t have to come immediately. VCs often urge their entrepreneurs to build the foundation and arrive at a business model that works before scaling up. Sometimes, the pressure builds up to grow, raise valuations and the fundamentals are forgotten.  The Subhiksha Retail debacle is a case in point of the entrepreneur hurrying up to build scale without a good offering or a good business model.

Admit your mistakes without mincing words 

In one of his annual reports to Berkshire shareholders, Warren Buffet admitted that complete disclosure about his investments and thought process helps him sleep better at night. When you admit your mistakes – be it on strategy or execution – it helps fix the same mistakes.

You are a startup. Don’t portray a different image 

I am going to say it. How often have we heard early-stage entrepreneurs inflate the number of people who work in their organisation? There is nothing wrong about having just two full-time staff in your firm. State the numbers as they are.

When you have a problem, share it 

Right after our January edition when we published the Entrepreneurship 101 list, we interviewed Tata Sons’ R. Gopalakrishnan on the cover. In that interview, we learnt so many new lessons that we could actually rechristen our list Entrepreneurship 202. Let me highlight one lesson from that interview. When Gopalakrishnan detected a fraud in his department while leading Hindustan Lever, he went to his mentor Bipin Shah for advice. Shah apparently then said, “Gopal, when you have a problem, share it. Business is like football. You need multiple players to score the goal.” For Gopalakrishnan it was one of the best lessons he ever received.

Stay alert 24×7 

Our next advice comes from Ashish Kumar Chauhan, managing director and CEO, BSE Limited, the business leader on the cover of this edition. Chauhan, prior to joining BSE, worked for Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) as the Group Chief Information officer and says the best lesson he remembers from his stint at RIL is that leaders have to be alert 24×7.

With these six additions, we wrap up this edition of Entrepreneurship 101. Stay tuned for more and the launch of our Entrepreneurship 101 (or maybe Entrepreneurship 202) portal.

To buy a copy of the Entrepreneurship 101 collector’s special, please write to subscribe@smartmediagroup.in with 101 in the subject line.