Monday, November 14, 2011

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Recent times have been interesting to say the least; according to industry news angel investors, venture capital and seed funding has been relatively easy to get by. Every business magazine and newspaper is talking about the young generation choosing the path less trodden. New business ideas appear out of nowhere and once executed makes one wonder, it was so obvious, why did I not think about it ? These are however the ones that succeed which I am sure are statistically very small compared to the ones that died prematurely.

The spirit of entrepreneurship seems to be in the air. Faced with mid-life crisis on unmet aspirations or growth, many are pursuing their dreams of being their own boss. So I decided to track down a few CIOs who ventured to find out what triggered their steps towards being an entrepreneur. Some ventured in related industries to where they were employed, while a few were totally unrelated to their past employers domain or for that matter IT. What came out was an interesting set of revelations.

A CIO with many years in the pharmaceutical industry decided to venture into healthcare, and so did another who was in the banking industry. For the former it was leveraging his business knowledge of the lacunae in the marketplace while the latter saw an unmet need to address based on his personal experience.

Both were driven by different stimulus, the common theme was however to get off the rat race. Both were good IT professionals and one would have assumed a journey from mid-sized company to larger enterprises was logical progression. So when a CIO approached me for advice on when to get started on an entrepreneurial journey, it was an interesting discussion.

We started with his current position, industry and economic impact, personal growth; all appeared positively stacked in his favor. Then we reviewed his quandary. His role had grown as a CIO, he was respected within his company, and everyone acknowledged his expertise. He knew it would be a difficult task to rise beyond IT even though he knew the business well. He dreamed of being a CEO and starting up on his own seemed to be an easy way to get there.

Risks were the economic uncertainty, funding required, and the financial safety that the family needed. Key requirements of an entrepreneur namely the vision, management skills, financial acumen, and marketing abilities were all present. The doubt was about timing, now or later. My advice to him was to take the plunge. There is never a good time like now, analysis will lead to paralysis.

Even in a job, every new venture has a risk element to it. Sometimes we embrace it and sometimes we dither. We call it change management. So why is change difficult ? Because we are the cause and the effect; we are responsible for the journey and the outcome. We compete with ourselves and have no other benchmark.

I guess it requires thinking in a different mindset to get off the ground. The chains of comfort will always hold back. The debate about when is the need for internal self-reflection and the answer is now. Do you want to be an entrepreneur ? As Charles Kettering the famous inventor said “I have never heard of anyone stumbling over anything while he was sitting down”.


  1. Nice post Arun. I went through this myself, took the plunge & have never been happier. Not easy on the ego though!One goes through a mega transformation from being a "somebody" to an almost complete "Nobody".It takes passion to stay the course! I would suggest to anyone that he or she should take the plunge but only with one caveat-be passionate almost to the point of being stupid about the area you are starting your business in! Otherwise the sacrifices don't work!!

  2. I'm also thinking to start my own business someday. Entrepreneurs like Yuri Mintskovsky, Bill Gates or Richard Branson are great role models for me. I would like to meet these smart people in person! By the way, thanks for this great post!