This is one question I’ve been thinking about for a while, and that often comes up in conversations. It is an interesting one because it seems to have a “publicly acceptable” answer, regardless of what the individual might personally believe. It is a favorite topic of academicians to disseminate wisdom on, quite ironically I must add. And it is definitely one that has given every budding or struggling entrepreneur a sleepless night or two.
Of course, the well-known answer is, “When you have gathered enough relevant experience.” Everyone knows how important experience is to build a successful business. You can’t possibly know what to do if you haven’t been doing the exact same thing for the past 10 years. Current entrepreneurs will agree because that’s what they were told and they went and got the experience. Investors will agree because this is the only easy filter they can apply to choose amongst the hundreds of proposals they see every year. And academicians, well, serial (and hence, experienced) entrepreneurs make the best business school case studies!
Allow me to propose something drastic. The above answer is wrong. And it is wrong for the simple reason that the question itself is incorrect. I think the right question is, “What is the right attitude to be an entrepreneur?” It is a state of mind and not a biological age that determines when one is ready to be an entrepreneur. And no place better exemplified this than the Astia Doing it Right program this year. It was supremely inspiring to see the absolute range of entrepreneurs there – from a 21 year old to women who had been in the industry for two decades before taking the plunge. And one thing they all had in common was the spark – the desire to build something amazing.
A thing to note is also that you needn’t always have “the idea” to be able to take the plunge. One of the women I met at Astia said that one day she just decided that she wanted to build her own business. And once she made that decision, everything sort of fell into place. Because let’s face it, the right attitude and effort can turn the most commonplace of ideas into a stroke of genius.
- Esha Tiwary
Esha is the Head of Business Development at Embrace, one of the companies selected in the Doing it Right program this year. She is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.