…. and there is a part of me that is terrified, and there is a part of me that is terribly excited. I missed this sensation for the time i worked in corporate land. This sensation of being completely attuned to my universe and being alive.
Friday was my last day at my last employer. I had put in my papers towards the end of the last year. I had a great, great time in Zee. Fabulous boss and fabulous teams, and quite a large number of very nice people – people who make it a great workplace. And, I had the opportunity to work and interact with one of the greatest media visionaries in India, and that itself was a great experience and a great education.
Working in a corporate structure is like climbing the Himalayas with a safety net. Working for yourself is like jumping off the Himalayas without one (and then climbing up again, and then jumping off again).. Ha ha , i am doing the latter again, I must be nuts
So what am I going to do ? Right now – i am taking a month off to just get my priorities straight. And, at the core of the priority list is me and what i want to do. Am having lots of conversations on what all can be done – and there is a lot I can do, news, entertainment, education, across forms, formats and media. But, it is humanly impossible to do it all. The screw up is that all of it is terribly exciting, but there are only 24 hours in a day So, i am sitting and pruning the list. |No, you cannot go to central Uttar Pradesh and create a web series … no. no. no, says my rational business mind. Not yet, agrees my creative mind, and things go from the junk to the maybe one day list
I am thinking maybe 2 out of the list. And, even that means a lot of time commitment. As, i get older, i have begun guarding my non work time. I get so little of it, that it is important.
Finally, as i go back into figuring a start up ecosystem – some thoughts based on my last experience (as much for me, as anyone finds it interesting).
- Ideas are the easiest things in the world. Everyone knows how to fix the world, intellectually. Fixing the world, however, is about implementation. And, implementation is about roadmaps – you need to know what you are fixing, why you are fixing it, how will you fix it, and who will fix it. How much will the fixing cost, and how do you make money out of this. You, at the very least, need to have a pragmatic fix on this. And this goes beyond spreadsheets and presentations. oh, and it also goes beyond coffee shop conversations.
- While it is important to meet people and discuss your idea, do not meet so many people that you get confused about what you are doing. Refer to point one – everyone has a killer idea, the devil is in the implementation. Spend time meeting people who have implemented anything.
- Have a time plan — what are you going to do with your time and how. It is important to be disciplined. This is not an extended break, it is work. Work for yourself You only have two assets now – your intellect and 24 hours each day. The former needs to be sharpened and sharp focused so as not to wander. The latter needs to be used well. else the tendency to fritter both is huge. Use a small mantra – there is no tomorrow, only today. Stuff needs to be done today.
- While you are talking to random people in this journey, remember to talk to people who have undertaken the journey, successfully and otherwise. Success does not mean unicorn funding alone #justsaying.
- Your personal space is just as important as when you are working for someone else. Don’t let work crowd out your personal time so much that you begin resenting work.
- Be honest – there is no substitute for direct, and sometimes brutal, honesty. No point committing to stuff you don’t believe in, or don’t think can work. But, at the same time don’t burn bridges.
- Be clear – do you want to be a vendor or do you want to be an entrepreneur – in the former, the only risk is 90 days credit will become 120 days. The latter can be trying to do an obstacle race in a minefield.
- Don’t ignore paperwork — Government, who is God, loves paperwork. As does everyone in each of the Government departments. If you think you have done this paperwork before, you possibly have – except it was for another Government department, not this one. Just because the Government is talking about #StartupIndia doesn’t mean the paperwork will go away. Paperwork is in our dna … even the private sector has it. Hire an accountant if needed. Far more important initially than getting that fancy alienware laptop you are eyeing
- Meet the audience regularly. Figure if they really want what you are plugging – no point discovering there is no market for it.
- Have fun – if you are not having fun, you are doing this wrong, and go get a job. Being in a start up is not like being burnt at the stake – it is loads of fun, joy and excitement. there is a tremendous sense of achievement If you are miserable, maybe you should be doing something else.
Does this mean, being entrepreneurial is only a function of starting up. Not really, you can find a company that is entrepreneurial and join that. There is no one path – all are equally valid. Just don’t be miserably unhappy at whatever it is that you are doing. There is more to life than that (and, no i wan’t miserably unhappy – i had just become placidly smug. and, i didn’t like myself quite as much as i did before ) 😀
(shot a couple of years ago (but processed last year) — the boatman on the Ganga, Benaras)