Today, entrepreneurship has become cool. Driven by aspirational case studies, an increased acceptance of family and society of entrepreneurship, and even the public campaigns in support of starting up, many media and social conversations are about going ahead and taking the plunge. Starting a business in ones’ 20s is taking this plunge blindfolded. In a way, entrepreneurs are hypocritical masochists. We start a business and take the decision to walk into a world of uncertainty and ambiguity, and subsequently, spend the majority of the formative years of our business in search of clarity and direction.
While many start-ups look to advisors and consultants to help build this clarity, the biggest portion of the clarity comes from the founders’ vision. Being able to differentiate foolishness, blinded by your own aspiration, with true intuition is the key to taking the right decisions in starting a business. The first is to start for the right reasons, and starting a business because ‘it’s the cool thing to do’ is a sure-fire road to failure. When my co-founder and I started Ideosphere, we started with a determination to leave a mark on our communication industry, and as more and more people have joined us in this aim, we all come to work every day in a hope to take a couple of small steps towards our goal. Now, that’s cool; not necessarily entrepreneurship.
Being able to differentiate foolishness, blinded by your own aspiration, with true intuition is the key to taking the right decisions in starting a business.
Finding and trusting your intuition are important ingredients to building a successful business. Intuition is like big data; it is a voice built out of your past experiences and exposure to the business. Exposure is, at times, more important than the number of years of experience leading to a stronger intuition, and therefore, enabling one to take confident business decisions. My co-founder and I met once before deciding to start our business together; this was the most intuitive and best decision I have taken. Both of our intuitions were borne out of the fact that we understood that we needed to have a partner who can balance our respective weaknesses. It wasn’t a guess. Intuition is not a guess; it’s a sub-conscious understanding of the parameters to consider when taking a decision built over experiences of successes, failures, innovation and growth.
There are few things necessary when starting a business at an early age. As one may not have had enough experience to build a great inner voice, it is important to have mentors to the business who can make up for your lack of experience. A mentor acts as a validation to your intuition; they can make your decision more confident and point out when some decisions are taken with over-confidence. While mentors are important for any business, they become a critical tool to the success of a new business. Any business is a risk, and even after trusting your voice and validating it with your mentors/advisors, you need a huge heart – a heart that can break a hundred times, and come back to work the next day with a smile ready to love again.
No one can give guarantees. The only thing that can be done is to put the business in a position with the highest probability of success. We do this every day in communications and marketing. We cannot guarantee if a campaign will work, but we work hard in putting it in the best possible position. Entrepreneurship is the same. Finding partners who can complement each other’s weaknesses and shortcomings, having a great, experienced and like-minded mentor, and trusting your intuition will put a business in a great position.
Being blind-folded in this journey, there is one more thing, which is strengthened by the balance of weaknesses and intuition. It’s faith. Faith in your reason for starting the business in the first place, and the determination of the team to reach the apex of the tall mountain of aspiration, which fuelled your masochist decision in the first place, forms a confidence to keep you going. Only a fool would take a blindfolded plunge without having faith. But maybe, it was only to be cool.