Just Get A Job And Sleep Well!
Power. Oh sure you have lots of power, but the sword cuts both ways. You have the power to run the company the way you want without answering to anyone.
On the one hand you read that ‘being an entrepreneur is the most exhilarating feeling in the world comparable only to flying with your own wings,’ while Elon Musk has said that being an entrepreneur is ‘like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death’. I could say the truth is somewhere in between but actually it is both.
I became an entrepreneur totally by accident because a company I joined went bankrupt and I was forced to try and get business to look after the team I was heading. One thing led to another and today I’m on my third startup. Frankly, some days are rewarding while other days are terrifying.
To answer the question — if I could go back would I change it all? The answer is yes. I would have taken a job in State Bank Kolkata like my college mate Dev Sen, reached home by 6 p.m. every day, have a bath and put on powder and head out to play carrom at the local club. At the end of every month I would have collected my salary cheque, complained about the cost of living and got drunk on rum and warm water. What a life that would have been! My biggest worry would be if I could get a sweater on sale before the stocks finished and I would get three weeks holiday every year where I would take the train up to Darjeeling.
What an idyllic life!
Instead I’m on a crazy roller coaster trying to build a hundred-million-dollar company. You think it sounds sexy and fun, well it isn’t. It’s like climbing a mountain without resting, only when you are about to reach the peak it gets a little taller. It’s like playing hands of poker and even when you win and have a little pile of chips in front of you the management forces you to play higher stakes. It’s about staying late to motivate your people when you’d like to be home having a warm shower with a cool bed waiting. It’s about sitting across conference rooms facing VCs, and pretending you have all the time in the world, so you’d like to spend some time discussing songs of R.D. Burman before the money talk.
Power. Oh sure you have lots of power, but the sword cuts both ways. You have the power to run the company the way you want without answering to anyone. This is specially in the beginning — like we are now, but as you advance you get external directors on the board and the agreements get thicker and thicker. Pretty soon they’ve got specifications for the underwear size you have to wear.
Actually I’m terrified of later stages when I have to behave myself and talk nicely to pompous pumpkins. I’m very bad with authority — I almost got expelled from Mayo College twice.
Money. Yes, you write your own salary cheque but make it a sensible one. I’ve got a Mac Air and I bought a fabulous looking Swissphone because it makes me very happy. But I still drive a bashed up 5-year-old Honda City with 1,289 dents and scratches — it gets me to office.
Valuation. You can taste it but you can’t eat it for a long long time. I’m happy that Deloitte valued us at an ultimate $100 million but we have lots and lots and lots to do before we’re even halfway there.
Philosophy. You need long-term Vision. Mid-term Planning. And short-term Desperation.
Is it fun? That’s the stupidest word I’ve heard — it’s irrelevant.
It’s crazy, it’s unpredictable, it’s insomnia, it’s stress, it’s nerve, it’s pretending, it’s non stop…but one thing for sure.
It’s not boring.
And oh yes, you’re almost always short of sleep.