So You Wanna Be an Entrepreneur ! tell me more..
Okay, you want to be an Entrepreneur ! That means you have friends persuading an PhD which they had no idea why. You also have friends who earn a massive salary corporate job with not time to spend those bucks. And then there is you-still wondering where you belong. Trying too hard to fit in when you know that you were born to stand out. Somehow you were you were not indifferent enough just bite the dust and blindly follow them, nor were you brave enough to give a cold shoulder to the ever increasing social pressure of playing it safe and pursue your entrepreneurial dream. Or maybe, just may be- you are just like me- stuck somewhere in between.
Formal business education from a top business school, hefty amount to invest, charisma of Steve Jobs, the fearlessness of a gambler, disruptive thinking of Elon Musk — if you have ever let the lack of any one or more of the above mentioned things as the excuse of not starting out on your statup dream — you have fallen into the analysis paralysis trap. Because, these are not must have factors so to say. In fact all an entrepreneur ever does is to create something that constantly adds value to the customer by solving a problem and makes money as a logical consequence.
It’s not magic, its logic!
A company is more like a machine made up of certain building blocks. Blocks that you design and build. To put things into perspective, lets take the business of the “Udvash Coaching Centre” as an example.
The ‘machine’ always has some mandatory parts. It sells something to someone. By selling, it makes money. So of that it re-invests to make more sales in the future. What’s left is the profit of the business owner. In the very core- this is how every business runs. As simple as that. Too simple to be true ? Lets look at the business machine of the worlds most famous company, Google.
If you can at least visualize such a machine, work relentlessly towards making it — you can become very rich indeed. By no means am I saying that it is going to be easy. But you will be surprise to know that most of the barriers that you thought would be in your way are not even that big a hurdle either. Interested? Read on!
Don’t Play the game, play the man !
To begin, know one thing- it was never about the business, it was always about you. And it will always be. Are you young, with a thinning hairline and an even thinner wallet, distressed by the down ward curve of CGPA? Maybe a touch rebellious ? Your worst habits include stalking the good looking senior apu in Facebook or maybe the affection for the pegs Jack Daniels that come along once or twice an semester.? But you are willing to work till your fingernails fall out and your eyeballs roll onto the floor for that thing you love. Perfect! The world awaits you.
Older, wiser, bit of money saved, experienced with a stable job? Maybe some loan for that first car or that trip to Europe with the long term girlfriend who turned wife six months after you getting the job? Your job is much harder. It can be done, but it might feel like trying to dance backwards through quicksand.
The most important quality of an entrepreneur is to have energy and determination. Yes, it doesn’t hurt to be imaginative, resourceful and charismatic. But all of that can be learned. Most of todays big gun entrepreneurs started off as shy uber-nerd poster boy of forever alone. Enough preambles. Let’s make ourselves a million dollars !
Ideas are bulletproof not business-proof !
Are you still chasing after the deluded nonsense about that big business idea that is going to change the world as we know it ? Bhai Thamen ! Business ideas are overhyped. They are cheap and fleeting things. By itself a business idea is worth less than a half eaten sandwich. At least you can eat the sandwich
Yeah, you do need ideas but also realize that even the most successful companies that we know and worship today were not founded on wild or brilliantly novel ideas. Udvash did what Omeca or Sunrise Coaching centre was doing, but just did it better and in a different way. Facebook built a better MySpace. Google build a better Yahoo search. Microsoft copied Apple- who copied Xerox in the first place.
Wildly genius ideas are overrated. But what is not overrated is timing. Udvash chose the perfect time to make the admission coaching material more fun, dialogue based and looking beyond the scope of traditional guides. While Omeca and Sunrise did not realize that the old, hard to understand, memorizing based complex math problems would not attract the new generation of young adults, Udvash got charismatic young BUET bhaias explaining the deeper concepts of velocity, force and acceleration using Mission Impossible 2 stunts as the backdrop. They found a growing need in the market and adapted themselves to cash on that. The rest is history !
Google acted quickly to identify the opportunity to make a better search engine and monetize the data behind it. It built its core business around this simple principle. Good luck to Bing or any other search engine trying to replicate the same thing now.
So, what you need is a sense of anticipating the underrepresented things in the marked. You need to identify that opportunity of a product or service- original or not. It’s usually easier to refine an existing idea that isn’t fully realized than to create a wholly original one.
Don’t just solve a problem, monetize it !
Whenever thinking of a product or service related business idea, ask yourself the following three questions first-
a) What problem are you solving?
b) How is your solution better or different from existing solutions?
c) Are enough people willing to pay money to avail the solution that is being offered?
If you have specific answers and understanding of the above questions, your idea is in a good starting position to withstand the market & customer friction. Lets march ahead with it ! Don’t be afraid of market competition. Ever wondered why a new restaurant opens up every few months in Banani or Gulshan area ? Because, the existing restaurants have kindly done the hard work of building an audience for the newer ones. Many amazing business have ridden of the success on the wave created by others. You just have to do it 10% better. And do not forget about the money. You are in business to stay, not as hobby. And even if you are- learning to make money while solving problem is one of the guiding principles of business.
Udvash is a classic case study for this.(No, Shohag bhai is not paying me for this, neither am I favoring him as a fellow BUET alum. It is just that, I find the emergence of Udvash a classic case of how startups grow from ideation through execution into a fully scaled multi million bucks business). The teaching materials and methods of admission coaching centers were outdated, monotonous and not user friendly. Identification of problem-checked. Next, they made their lecture sheets in totally different get ups, with dialogue based write-ups, interesting short-cut tricks, cartoons and simplified diagrams to explain concepts, charismatic teachers who could take these materials and make long classes enjoyable. Great job at doing it better than Omeca and Sunrise. And finally, the market validation. After their small scale pilot in Mymensingh and single branch in Dhaka- they knew that students and parents alike are going gaga over this disruption. And they scaled up massively.. Today, they have become the Google of BUET admission coaching so to say, driving the competitors almost out of business!
All in the name of love !
Biz gurus suggest starting the business around something your friends and family will use in an heartbeat and pay for with the last bit of their savings. This will help you understand the customer better and more aware of the problem that you are trying to solve. At the same time, you will be passionate about what you do. And if you can make a business based on a why — not a what –you will inspire yourself and the people around you. And to survive the next steps of running a business, you will need a fair amount of that. In the end, Entrepreneurship is all about loving what you do and doing what you love.
Next part talks about:
1. Jet,Set,Go !
2. Making yourself unnecessary
3. Scaling up like a boss
4. Divorcing the Dream