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Oct, 01 2007

The driving force

Entrepreneurship is being considered as the driving force of modern Indian economy. Of late, there has been an endeavour to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit among youngsters. Therefore, what does it take to be an entrepreneur? Exploring the characterist

“For those who dare to dream, there is a whole world to win!” said Dhiru Bhai Ambani And those who dare to dream are entrepreneurs! So, how do you define an entrepreneur? Is he a person who owns and runs a business for his survival? Is he a mentor? Is he a leader or a pathfinder? Every big organisation that we see today had started of as a venture that was led by a single person accompanied by his team who believed in him. It is said that the right people meet at the right place, at the right time to turn a venture into a successful business. And behind all these factors there is a mind that first conceives the idea, identifies the ‘right people, place and time’ and drives all the possible factors around him to make them work. That is the mind of an entrepreneur!

Why entrepreneurship?

What drives a person towards business? It could be experience in a particular field that prompts a person to go ahead and use his skills for his own business. It could be a new idea that dawns upon him and his determination to establish the idea no matter what. It could be necessity or at times compulsion.

Here is a story about a successful venture born out of need.

A person applied for the post of an office boy in Microsoft. After the interview, the HR head told him that he was selected for the post and they needed his email id to mail his appointment letter. Bewildered, the person said, “I do not have an email account.” The HR head of Microsoft said, “You do not have an email account. And you have come for a job in ‘M-I-C-R-O-S-O-F-T’. We do not keep such ignorant in our organisation.” The man came out depressed, with no clue how to sustain himself. He grabbed his pockets to find a twenty rupee note. With that twenty rupee note, he bought some apples and sold them in the houses in that locality. This earned him a profit of ten rupees leaving thirty rupees in his hands. With those thirty rupees, he bought some more apples and sold them in the same way. That was the beginning. In this way, he bought a small fruit cart. After sometime, he set up a small fruit stall of his own. Then gradually, one day he became an established and one of the most popular fruit vendors in the city. Had it not been for his not having an email account, he would still be an office boy in Microsoft or at the most, might have graduated to the level of a junior clerk. A struggle for existence that led to success.

There are many such examples where we can see people who start business merely for survival and end up being pioneers in the business world.

The entrepreneur’s forte'

Entrepreneur is defined as a person who runs a profitable enterprise with some anticipated risk. The enterprise first creates a niche for itself and gradually captures the market to become the essential part of people’s life. It is at that point when an organisation becomes successful.

Here are some of the important characteristics of an entrepreneur.

Have a vision: An organisation starts with a vision that an entrepreneur perceives – no matter how big or small a venture is at its inception, it might lead into a grand success in future. When polyester sarees were first introduced in India, no body knew that it was the founding block of India’s greatest business empire that was led by the great visionary Dhiru Bhai Ambani, the hardcore optimist who believed in doing difficult things. He often said, “I am deaf to the word `no.`”

Business acumen: A dream, a determination to achieve, the courage to stand against all odds, a very strong will to be ahead always, to lead, to create... speaking of the characteristics of an entrepreneur brings in many superlative attributes that paints a larger than life picture of their lives and deeds. However, the first and the primary motive of an entrepreneur is to run a business. Hence the basic necessity is to have the right aptitude for business, the acumen to understand the basics of a trade – buying and selling.

Competitive: He has to run a business efficiently and be ahead of his competitors. He has to identify an opportunity and implement an idea before anyone else does that. The only survival strategy is to be ahead and be unique in some way or the other that appeals to his target customers.

Eye for excellence: A true entrepreneur never compromises. He has an eye for excellence and is known for being perfectionist. An entrepreneur should never settle for anything less than the best. He offers the best services for his customers and tries to procure the best return for himself and his organisation. Neither should he compromise on service nor on profits.

Patience and foresightedness: The very next attribute is patience. It takes a long time for any business to get established. Entrepreneurs typically are not looking for the short-term financial rewards, but rather look forward with a long term view to building, growth, and development, and the emotional and psychological rewards that come with their continued and ongoing achievements.

Hard-work: Hard-work is a word almost synonymous to entrepreneur. Establishing a business is no ball game. An entrepreneur should live for his business. There is no alternative for dedication and hard work. Sacrifice both at his and his family’s end is what is required.

Overcoming obstacles, risk-taking propensity: Success is the other name for overcoming obstacles. A determined and ambitious person always gives it a second chance before losing it out in the face of difficulties. That is where an entrepreneur becomes different from an ordinary person. He meets challenges, cuts through them to find the way out. Success of a business goes hand in hand with the risk of its failure. An entrepreneur who aspires for success should also have the courage to take risks.

Leadership qualities: Last but not the least, an entrepreneur is a leader. It is his vision that inspires his employees to work for him. Before earning the faith of his customers, he has to win the faith of his employees. He has to make them believe that his idea is going to be successful and each one of them would be proud of being a part of it.

To quote, N R Narayana Murthy, Chief mentor and Chairman of India's IT major, Infosys Technologies, “A leader is an agent of change, and progress is made when that change is effected. Entrepreneurship is all about raising the aspirations of followers and enthusing people with a desire to reach for the stars.”

Business start-up

An entrepreneur can step into business by simple means. Join hands to start a venture: Many people leave job to start their own business. The experience they earn in their job and the network they develop give them the confidence to start their own venture. A cartoonist working in an advertising agency in Kansas City, joined hands with a colleague to start a business that opened doors to a whole new world of entertainment in the form of The Disney World.

Cater to need of society: The ultimate goal of a business is to cater to its customers’ needs. Selling of a product or service that does not meet the customer’s requirement often fails in its operation. So, a business idea that springs up from the need of the society and can successfully cater to that need can never go wrong.

“I want Indians to be able to call for the price of a postcard,” said Dhirubhai Ambani, when mobile phones were considered to be a luxury and only the well-to-do section of the society could use it. A vision to make mobiles available and affordable to the vast population of India led to Reliance Infocomm.

Inspired by a great idea: A person can be inspired by a number of things around him. A short trip down the village can inspire a person to bring a rural art form such as pottery into the global forefront as an eco friendly product.

A sales man, who supplied restaurant products like paper cups and milk-shake mixers for his living, chanced to visit a restaurant in California. Being inspired by the simplicity and efficiency of their operation, he launched a fast food restaurant that multiplied its presence across the world and emerged as a world famous brand, McDonald’s.

An inspiration complemented with experience and right market knowledge often lead to a successful business venture. Follow the family trade: Magppie, a design-led brand for premium accessories is an offshoot of a 30 year old family-run business of rolling stainless steel. Launched in the year 2000, it has seen the heights of success in both domestic and international market in the last 6-7 years. This is a perfect example of building up on the existing family business.

A person, who is brought up in a business environment, is aware of many business nuances that a new entrepreneur would take years to understand. Moreover, he already has a platform on which he can build his own empire.

Every entrepreneur has his own reason to start his business. But, what we are trying to find out in this article is how an ordinary man can cultivate his hidden potentiality to become a successful entrepreneur.

Can an entrepreneur be trained?

Entrepreneurship is the most talked about topic that comes up again and again in discussions, seminars, lectures, journals and B-school classes. A time has come when India needs more and more progressive enterprises that will make the nation emerge as the next superpower. The progress of the nation is considered to be in the hands of the young entrepreneurs. Hence, every one is talking about developing the entrepreneurial skills. But can entrepreneurial skills be taught? Most of the stalwarts of Indian business world, whom we look up to, were never taught by anyone. All they had was a dream to rule the world and perhaps it was this dream and the passion to follow it, which taught them the entrepreneurial skills.

There is an attempt on the part of educationists to define entrepreneurship as a set of qualities like leadership, optimism, hard-work, risk taking propensity, etc., and along with these qualities, a strong passion to make it big gives fillip to one’s mission.

Be an entrepreneur

If you have the zeal, grit, intelligence and strong individuality, entrepreneurship is the best world to explore. It offers a plethora of choices to opt for and cultivate. In today’s global scenario, entrepreneurial activities, be it national or international, contribute a substantial amount to world economy. It is a potential field where man of calibre has enormous scope to prove his mettle. So, a man who loves challenges, has faith and confidence in himself, will find entrepreneurship as the treasure trove of opportunities and growth.

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