In defence of the little guy
It is not bad to be a small company or run a small project.
As someone who enjoyed ‘The Social Network’, which is probably David’s worst film, I did not quite like the so called quotable quotes from the movie. I guess, I am more of “Hope is a good thing” sort of a guy. The one that seemed to get a lot of traction was,
“A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”
Now I am not going to sit here, in a rented apartment, and deny that a billion dollars aren’t cool. I don’t think anyone can ever deny that, especially a guy who lives in a rented apartment in suburbs of Pune, drives a Hyundai i10 and thinks that at Rs. 135 Budweiser is too costly in Maharashtra. But what I am going to do is try to defend the little guy. There is no doubt that the word entrepreneur is abused more than a photographer these days. For every First Name Last Name Photography Facebook page, I have seen 5 LinkedIn profiles with Director / Founder / CEO in the job-title department. I guess it is because it is easy to be a Founder / CEO these days. All you need is a website and you have a reasonably good enough reason to put that up on LinkedIn. Hey, you can even register a company for approximately 15000 Rs. and get it on the profile. I know I did, when I registered Maurya Learning Pvt. Ltd. with a friend of mine. Well, I also made all the classic mistakes which these startup-types talk about in their Saturday meetings. But I digress.
Let me put it straight to you, you are not going to make a billion dollars. Your company is not going to be valued at a billion dollars. I am quite sure that the above statement will be true in 99.99% of the cases. And if you ever land up in the other 00.01% category, please call me at your annual employee bash in Macau to make fun of me. Forget founding such a company, it is extremely unlikely that you will be one of the first 10 employees of a billion-dollar company. I know that there are six people at InMobi who can go Nelson on me, but yeah – there are just six of those.
So, let us be realistic. Let us set goals which are, for the lack of a better word, achievable. I am quite sure that you have acquired a certain set of skills while working at your day-job or whiling your time away at college. Put those skills to use. With those skills and today’s technology – you can make more money than you are at your job. And I am not talking 20% - 30% more, I am talking at least 4-5 times more. If you know how to code, there are so many idea-guys looking for tech help. Pick up an idea-guy that you like or heck pick up 5 of these idea-guys and work with them for money and some sort of revenue share. Do remember, get sold on the guy and not so much on the idea because without execution (which you are supposed to do) the idea is worth nothing. The idea-guy on the other hand will bring his set of skills to the table. If you know how to design, brilliant – in India you are probably one in a million. At your company, you might be asked to make a banana look 30% happier but there are a bunch of Indian startups who need your help and I mean really really need your help. If you know how to write, blogs / ebooks / freelancing can generate a decent amount of revenue these days. If you have any other skill, that other people might be interested in: there are bunch of Indian websites like WizIQ and GyaanExchange where you can make a course on them and train others on that skill. If you have some skills which might have a global appeal, you have Udemy. The good part is – whatever you do – it would be something that you choose to do. If you can make living from it, it might not be as cool as a billion dollars but it would still be quite cool.
I am doing the last one and teaching a few courses on coaching for CAT 2013. I started doing this in Jan 2013 and I guess by the year-end, I would have made more money than what I did in my previous job. It has given me immense amount of self confidence which you can only get by doing / creating something. It has allowed me to spend more time with my wife, who is not keeping well these days. I have been able to generate a reasonable amount of visibility in the CAT coaching market, which teachers far better than me and more experienced than me haven’t been able to do in years. I get to read more, watch more movies and follow Game of Thrones with the same passion that I followed Sopranos when I was in college. Will I be able to make this project of mine into a 4-5 people company with revenues in double digit lakhs – probably. Will I ever be able to cross the chasm, get funded and get featured on TechCrunch – probably not. I know that these dreams are small for many people but I also know that I am not at the top of the pyramid – I am somewhere in the middle and making the most of it.
PS: If you know how to code and are looking for an idea-guy(who has executed a little in the past), I would like to apply.