Challenges facing an entrepreneur – II

Picking up from where I left in the last article, there are three more key challenges facing an entrepreneur today.

Patience to wait for the right time/opportunity
One of the learnings shared by seasoned and successful entrepreneurs is that start-ups cannot afford to pass on any opportunity, no matter how small. One needs to see business much like a game of PacMan, you can bag big fish only by learning to swallow small ones. The biggest advantage of starting small is that it allows you to find out what the industry and market is all about and make mistakes when one can still afford it.

Growth, when it comes, is all the more sustainable as a result. Although many aspects of entrepreneurship favor the young, patience does not. Here experience has an edge. Impatience often pushes new entrepreneurs to blindly adopt a get-big-fast philosophy or “going for scale”. This approach only makes sense in certain contexts, especially for businesses like on-line recruitment sites, because their competitive advantage lies in the size of their networks. But it does not work for most start-ups. Take the case of Infosys. It took over 13 years before it started experiencing growth and prior people had not even heard of the company. Reliance started small selling door-to-door before it moved to other areas and grew big. Every major success story in corporate India today reeks of the same lesson. Start small, learn the ropes, dig in your feet and then expand at the right time and opportunity. Infosys’s growth coincided with the need for US companies to offshore their development, that of Reliance with the opening market which needed players of scale etc.

Building the core team and retention of key employees
Almost every successful venture has one common thread. Highbrow talent or not, experienced or not, they had a group of people who stayed through the thick and thin, gave their whole to the venture and became the pillars on which the organization grew. Till any venture reaches a certain scale when momentum takes over and people start flooding to work for the company, it is irretrievably this core group of people who are key to the company’s growth. They provide stability, they act as ambassadors and lend their shoulders for the company to grow upon. Building this core team has become the biggest challenge in the context of today’s job market which is very hot and where good talent will find ample offers and that too lucrative.

The real challenge therein lies with an entrepreneur to provide the glue to make them stick, offer them rewards as they grow with the venture and to give them intangible reasons to stay put. It could even be personal bonding with the key employees. A really key challenge as this tests the people skills to the utmost.

Building an institution
Now this is one where many entrepreneurs differ, even successful ones. There are some who treat it as mere wealth creation tools and there are others who believe in creating an institution that survives beyond them and leaves a legacy behind. Personally, the final and true glory of entrepreneurship lies in creating an institution that survived decades if not centuries. It redefines its marketplace, it becomes more than mere business. It becomes a way of life, a tradition. One that touches millions of lives across the globe or in a region. That is the final challenge which even successful ones stumble at, with history as the only judge.

By no means are these the complete list of challenges facing an entrepreneur and here is wishing all you out there a great time facing these and setting sail even in the turbulent waters.

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