On Management

First Idea Goosebumps #StartupMuddyShoes

[First published on TheRodinhoods]
Entrepreneurs, as Andy Dunn puts it, are so distracted by reality that they start living in their imagination. It is not an easy phase to be in, though it sounds like a classic genius-working-alone phenomenon. On the contrary, they are often lonely without a clue what to do with life. Their current state of being is uncertain- education course, job, family business- and they crave freedom of an abstract kind. Abstract, because they cannot define it. The idea is yet to be born.

You trap a mind and it starts looking for a way out.

Just like a distracted school kid, just like a pup asked to sit still, just like a child in stranger’s arms. The trapped mind of a entrepreneur (who is yet to be realized) hunts for a subject to take an initiative on. Her soul longs to lead and make things happen, it has been listening to other people’s directions for too long. Like a butterfly, the mind flies and looks for opportunities of the slightest kind. Taking too long to book tickets? Opportunity. Grocery shopping is boring? Opportunity. Electrician is being rude? Opportunity. When one idea catches fancy and refuses to let go, she takes notice and takes a decision to make it happen. Of course, it is easier said than done.

Thrill before the jump.

It is a wonderful feeling to have an idea, a way out of the existing routine. She visualizes everything that she has seen happening to the famous and the rich. The peak seems so promising, so real and she skips thinking about the way to scale it. She spends hours talking about ‘entrepreneurship’, reading about ‘business hacks’ and visiting multiple events with a newly printed business cards which say ‘Founder’. Hell yeah. You can’t blame her, it is the thrill of the jump, because the pool below is awesome. It is the thrill of the climb, because the peak up there is awesome. The journey can wait for now, it can wait for tomorrow. But what if ‘tomorrow’ never comes?
When feet leave the ground.
“What next?” is probably one of the most frequently asked questions in this phase, because we usually have absolutely no clue. Suddenly, the idea doesn’t seem adequate enough and the number of first steps seem overwhelming.

Website first or bank account? Shop front first or employee? Logo first or name? Do I even need a tagline? What niche market- my customer is everyone who eats, wears clothes, and emails. Where do I get the money from- my family still thinks I’m nuts and friends are avoiding me. Will a VC fund me, because they funded loss-making Flipkart. VC ignored me at an event, let’s dig out a HBR article which advises against VC funds and rant on Facebook. So many cool Indian entrepreneurs, let’s start commenting on their FB posts with a link to my venture while acting over smart so they don’t take me lightly.

We seem to be doing everything except taking the first step. It takes time and some hard hitting advise from new friends that even the ‘first steps’ can be sequential. Someone advises that you need your family to have your back, because it’s easier to convince customers once you have convinced your family about what you’re doing. Co founder is not required if you didn’t start with one (they would never have the same level of ownership), but a core team of senior employees is crucial- and you start building a team.

Scrambling for a parachute.

On jumping, she realizes that a parachute is needed and scrambles for one. In a whirl of madness, everything seems to be happening at once and for the first time. Customers seem elusive, yet time flies past with people asking about the business. Employees are hard to find, yet the likes on Facebook keep going up the more you talk about yourself online. Cards keep getting re printed yet what’s being portrayed is just an larger-than-life image of what’s really happening.

Waking up with a start after 6 months.

With a stark realization that she’s finally an entrepreneur. After half a year, it has sunk in that she has left her past behind and jumped into starting up full time. It is a beautiful feeling, to be fully in control of one’s failures and successes. Things light up after 6 months, because though time flew by in a wink, you are now wiser because of numerous amateur interactions with the individuals of the ecosystem. There are multiple firsts which are yet to happen- the first customer, the first employee, the first investor call and the first media feature. However, she grins while lying awake, staring at the ceiling. She knows she is truly in, wanting to fight it out. Such self belief backed by an open mind finds it hard to fail :)
The first 6 months are crazy, like a kid learning to walk all over again. Please write in with your first experiences, these write ups would be priceless for those who are starting up now! Thanks.

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