5 things I learnt as a struggling entrepreneur

As I was digging my head over a problem at work this afternoon, I remembered a conversation with a friend over dinner last night. He innocously asked — “ It has been 3 long years of journey to reach where you have, have you been documenting the zillion problems you had to deal with and the learnings from them?” The immediate answer was - no. While there is no reasonable justification, it made me think about our journey so far. Sahana and I started Sukhibhava, a social enterprise based out of Bangalore with zero bank balance, zero years of experience in the space, a disappointed family and sincere passion to make impact. It has been a fabulous journey, after 3 years of constant struggles now I can confidently tell — we are here to stay and we will make our vision a reality. While learning never ends, the kind of learning that happens while you are in the “figuring out” phase is special in its own way. So here I am penning down 5 most important learnings that I think will hugely benefit fellow struggling entrepreneurs out there:

  1. Passion is not just enough. My team and I are very passionate about our work, and that is all we had when we started. While I can’t deny I would not feel so driven without the same passion , it took me time to realise without the acquired knowledge and resources — passion might not be just enough. Talent and networks are often underestimated.
  2. Be shameless, ask. There is a famous hindi quote — “Poochne mein kya jaata hai?” which translates into — “What is the harm in asking?”. I saved almost $10000 over a conversation with a random stranger over lunch. The random stranger turned out to be someone who could build a mobile app for us — pro bono with zero cost. It is hard to believe but there are still many many nice people out there, all we need to do is ask, share and have a decent conversation. I agree this is difficult, but believe me this comes naturally after a few initial nudges.
  3. Being strategic is a previlige, be opportunistic to begin with. If I am traveling to point A, I have two options. Option 1 — waiting for the direct bus, which is more comfortable and probably consumes less time and energy. Option 2 — get on to any bus that takes you on the same direction and get off when it diverts. And figure it out from there. I recommend the option 2. It is the little wins over last 2 years that bought us bigger opportunities. We could gather learnings, resources and reputation.
  4. Honesty is exaggerated. I don’t mean to endorse dishonesty. In the first few years you see progress when things fall into place while there are many more things that don’t fall into place and that should not stop you. While we make noise about what is creating magic — we silently make constant efforts to improve what is not. It is not worth giving everyone the opportunity to judge you when all you need is validation.
  5. Value people like never before. Without the people around me — I would not have made it so far. Make conscious investments in building meaningful relationships. It’s them who will stand by you when you want to cry, share, borrow or lean on. Being an entrepreneur often tends to be a lonely journey and you can not let it be.

There are might be opinions that contradict the above thoughts, will be happy to listen and learn together. Cheers.

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