By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
An entrepreneur is one whose dreams are bigger than his or her resources. These are people who dream of making a dent in the universe. They take risks, challenge status quo and are not afraid of picking themselves up when they fall flat on their face. They dust their clothes and continue walking as-if nothing had happened. The drivers could vary from person to person.
The Changing Nature of Work
Besides full time work, now there is contract work, part-time work, freelance options and the option to be an individual supplier. Connectivity and the acceptance of telecommuting is letting lots of people dip their feet into the entrepreneurial pool with relatively small risks and then chuck the full time work once the venture grows to a certain scale. A working spouse is letting people take risks earlier. In the B-Schools there is a growing number of students who start their own ventures. With the notion of lifelong employment being a thing of the past, a lot of people are finding themselves taking up entrepreneurship earlier than their plan.
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
Some dream of getting away from the soul crushing work done in a cubicle as an unknown cog in the giant wheel. It could be the freedom that comes from being your own master and the option to pursue a dream to change the world or at least some part of it. And of course the possibility of becoming the next Gates, Zuckerberg or Thiel or any other depending on which last name generates more awe.
Entrepreneurs have to be able to solve problems and make the world more convenient. They have to be able to factor in technological shifts, demographic trends and regulatory matters to craft the option. The analog world also had entrepreneurs from a Henry Ford to Jamshetji Tata. In the analog world apart from enterprise, the other three factors of production – land, labor and capital were difficult. For the digital entrepreneur, ideas and innovation are at the core. Getting funding is a no-brainer if the idea is interesting.
We have entrepreneurs in the digital world. What changes? There is no barrier – not even age. Digital entrepreneurs can be much younger. Madison Robinson had the idea for light-up flip flops for kids when she was eight. Seven years later, Madison Robinson is a millionaire and her Fish Flops are being sold in national department stores like Nordstrom.
Invite, Innovate and be Interesting
- Invite: Entrepreneurs have to learn to engage people beyond the enterprise. They have to invite the people beyond their enterprise at all stages from doing “AB Testing” of ideas, designs and everything else, the crowdfunding initiative which made Occulus Rift possible. Oculus Rift was bought over by Facebook for $2bn. That was easy after Facebook had bought WhatsApp for $19bn.In a hyper-connected world, everyone from the VC or potential employee is only a digital invitation away. The hyper-connected customer base is the best bet to take the message viral. The ability to build a network is an important skill.
- Innovate: The digital world means shorter response times at all stages. People have to rethink and innovate around business models, marketing channels, and HR norms if they wish to scale up the way AirBnB, Dropbox and Facebook did. They followed “growth hacking” which basically means the ability to quickly scale a product in creative ways. They have to solve big problems in a simple intuitive manner. Amazon moved quickly from selling books to now experimenting with delivering goods via drone. Innovation needs resilience. Agility and awareness of disruptive forces, quick decision making, ability to take risks can give the entrepreneur a huge head-start. Ola cabs breaking the auto-nexus in cities by introducing on-call auto services as well!
- Interesting: Digital businesses are based on Customer Experience & Innovation. Drucker defines Entrepreneurship as using the tool of Innovation to exploit change. When everyone with a smartphone is a media house, it is important to be interesting to stand out in the crowd. Richard Branson’s larger than life persona rubs off on the brand. Steve Jobs legendary skill in presenting ideas and obsession with design made Apple users evangelists. Apple’s announcements and product launches generate the kind of buzz no paid media has managed.
Digitization has redefined the possibilities of entrepreneurship. The barriers of the analog world are disappearing. Failure is getting to be less of a taboo – a sure sign that a society is ready to see the rise of entrepreneurs ready to make a dent in the universe.