Had this long chat with a friend who is a successful entrepreneur and he was summarizing what he did right and what he did wrong..so some time for us to look at ourselves. In the year 2000 a few of us had an option to take VC money and become a real big broker – but we choose to go our way. Let me tell you why….or even why I choose this topic..

  1. Not a self starter: If you are not a self starter in new projects on a sustainable basis, it is difficult to be an entrepreneur. Yes many of us understand the need for new products, innovation, etc. but doing it scientifically is very different from dreaming about it.
  2. Need tremendous discipline: I see friends who are into Marathon running in a real big way. Business is also like that. Whether you like it or not you have to be up at 5, wear your shoes and step out of your house. Your mind and body may give you a zillion excuses, but you have to go and deliver. Many of us lack that.
  3. You need passion: Passion not just to make money, build your business and sell it, but to really make a difference in the life of the client. Many of us lack that – at best I can say what they need to do, I cannot really do it for them. I mean I will not. Hence advisory will not work without the passion to change / impact the clients life. I can influence, not transform. Rather will NOT.
  4. Need awesome people skills: Making friends, Influencing teams, getting work done, doing appraisals – read it carefully each one is almost contradictory. If you do not have HR skills, you are dead. I have HR skills but would constantly lose people in our earlier avataar as a broker. That had me worried about become a man power supplier to the brokerage industry and not have a business model in brokerage!
  5. Not taking a NO for an answer: I easily take a no and suddenly the monkey is on my back! I never had the ability to chase, contradict, become unpopular to push my way. That just was not me. I was more of “look this is good for you, take it”. If the person said no, I would push a little, but NOT enough to sustain a big business.
  6. Need creative thinking: Even as a group we never had any new, great, creative idea while in business. In retrospect some of my ‘creative ideas’ were a) setting up a library for practicing Chartered Accountants b) supplying computers to small hotels and charge on a per use basis c) do financial planning EXECUTION for senior executives…In retrospect I am happy I never got funded (did not even seek!!). I have seen some so called ‘creative people’ not having the energy to carry out the idea…horrible as an entrepreneur.
  7. You are competitive by nature, and in the right way: I am not competitive at all, and have been like that all my life. For a fleeting moment I may be jealous or envious, but rarely will I translate that to sustained effort. That is just not me. I can rationalize rather than energize.
  8. You are hungry for something: you need to be hungry for money, recognition, growing a big business. I never wanted to be a businessman, being a professional was my only aim. A Bansi Mehta or a Nani Palkhiwala would have been a childhood icon, not a Dhirubhai Ambani or even JRD Tata. Never wanted to be a ‘successful businessman’. Successful professional yes. When we were in the brokerage business, we were haughty for sure – more a professional trait and less a businessman trait đŸ™‚
  9. Have Ego in control: This is a businessman’s trait, not a professional trait. Most professionals I have met have ‘Vidya garvam’ – sometimes it is explicit sometimes it is not. I have met some of the top lawyers and CAs of this country in a couple of  litigation cases, and when I see arrogant businessmen, I know the trait!!
  10. You are really, really hardworking: Hardwork, I mean the discipline to do the same dull boring thing day in and day out. Meeting 5 important clients a week. Making sure that you are on top of the market requirement. Sitting through dull, boring sales meetings where all you hear are excuses. Sitting through performance appraisals. Prospecting – speaking to at least 3 potential clients a day. Phew. I am easily satisfied. I see friends doing it. I see failed businessmen pretending to do it…

Most importantly I realized my limitations early on in life – thanks to a couple of management assignments that we did. Including not getting paid in full by one of the clients. Taking a Principal position in equity brokerage and becoming a victim to a fraud by one of India’s best qualified fraudster. That s.o.b. delayed my retirement.

Like the Englishmen say “One day if you can laugh at your problems…..” since I can/could laugh at my problems…I guess it is fine đŸ™‚

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  1. I have failed in a startup as I lack the confidence of taking it further with the partner and have offered my partner either to buy my stake or offer his stake to me to make it standalone.. We have to differ our ways on this and have sold it a different person and the startup failed miserably as the new person who have bought it didn’t take it further.

    I have no regrets today but I was not able to start another as I was hurt with the consequences. Right now I am on a phase of building things and working on different ideas, will start one once I finalize things.

  2. Raj ..at least u know u failed..today with VC funding almost continuously available..many people do not even know they have failed.

    Sreekanth..what humility? i realised that i would be better off as a professional and a failure as a businessman..and also did not want to be in a capital intensive, people intensive business like brokerage..even now the big people are not making money. They make money in money lending..which we were not intereested in…

  3. @Subra true sir, I have learned my lessons from the failure and I am sure that I won’t repeat them in future and I am regretting for the failure for the valuable lessons it have thought.

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