The job of an entrepreneur

I follow the ‘other Steve’ on Facebook. The man I am referring to is of course, Steve Wozniak, the technical brain behind Apple Computers and Steve Jobs’ partner since the early Apple days. He had this brilliant status message that deserves the attention of every entrepreneur out there.

Here it is: Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me…they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone…I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone…not on a committee. Not on a team.”

As I read this piece of advice, I got to read our cover story on Krishnan Ganesh, a four-time entrepreneur and current founder-CEO of TutorVista. While conventional wisdom suggests that entrepreneurs need to build a great team and delegate work as much as possible, there are a few tasks that an entrepreneur simply cannot delegate. According to Ganesh, these tasks are driving strategy, building the core team and raising money in the early-phase. He gave us examples from his various ventures in which he initiated a change in business model or operational strategy and he’s convinced that handholding strategy is the most important job responsibility for an entrepreneur.

If we were to combine these two pieces of advice, from Wozniak and Ganesh, there are a few questions that crop up. What if an entrepreneur works alone while formulating his company’s strategy? There are too many ventures out there that are way too similar to each other. If an entrepreneur puts his artist hat on, forgets about what his competition is doing, what his employees are saying and formulates strategy just by working and thinking alone, chances are he’ll arrive at something that can completely differentiate his or her startup.

One of the goals of The Smart CEO is to feature people, who can be role models for upcoming professionals. The story of Ganesh and how he successfully built and exited four ventures is inspiring. His journey gives us a bird’s eye view of the thought process of a serial entrepreneur – someone who builds, let goes and builds all over again. Ganesh also talks about how his management style has changed over time and attributes it to experience and age, rather than anything else.

In Startup School this edition, we talk to another serial entrepreneur, Raman Roy, founder of BPO/KPO firm Quatrro Global Services. We decided to discuss the topic of ‘managing people’ by putting forth seven scenarios a manager could find himself in. It’s an approach (of discussing a topic through scenarios) we’ve taken to gather unique practical insights from people who, in all probability, have been in such scenarios in the past.

As usual, the magazine also features the story of several early-stage startups that are working on solving very interesting problems. In this edition, we are featuring Zomato, an online restaurant and events classifieds firm, Capillary Technologies, a retail CRM company and MobStac, a company building a mobile solution for publishers. In Growth Enterprise, we profile Prizm Payments, a fast-growing company that has built a services business around deploying and maintaining ATMs.

On a parting note, I’d like to leave you with a quote from the movie Bourne Ultimatum. The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Ezra Kramer (played by Scott Glen) says in the movie: “Always hope for the best and plan for the worst.” Of course, as optimistic entrepreneurs, it is the second part of the quote you need to be reminded about.

Hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.

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