How not to be an entrepreneur

“Yaar, ye sab chodd, chal startup kholte hai! Vegas mein jaake poore life aish karte hain” (“Dude, screw all this, lets build a startup, and spend the rest of our life partying in vegas”) has been a part of every platonic drunken conversation in the recent times. Starting from about 2015, Entrepreneurship has become one of the biggest fads among millennials, closely contesting with monotonous pop music and weekend trips/long drives (doubling up as marathon selfie-sessions) . Seeing young entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel become billionaires at ripe ages of 30 and 25, millennials all over the world have made entrepreneurship a sort of life mantra, a pinnacle of their existence which will take them into eternal nirvana, realizing the life of their dreams they grew up to watching on TV.

However, if you ask any successful entrepreneur, I am sure that not a single one of them would completely agree that it was the dreams of Bikini-clad models and chartered flights that led them to their success. Entrepreneurship is as much an inward journey as a money-making venture. It is about identifying who you really are and what value you want to bring to this world while having fun doing it. Here is some proof.

“I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” — Richard Branson

and more..

“One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.” — Jeff Bezos

and even more..

If you were meant to be an entrepreneur, I strongly believe that you would feel it from the inside when its the right time (or if you are lucky you must have always felt it). When you really want to start something so strongly, it would be impossible to do otherwise, just as a passionate photographer would probably still keep taking photos if he was in prison and had a camera with him. If not, then you are one amongst the millions who just want a share of the startup/entrepreneurial cake which is melting away fast.

The fact that a tech startup bubble exists is not an inside secret anymore. Everybody knows it. But still everybody wants to be in it. Just like those times in school when you felt like bunking school because most of your friends are bunking too. Some might eventually succeed in making millions and probably even Billions. But what about the rest. Where are they going to be when the playing field shrinks and the second and third competitors are wiped out. What future wave are they going to ride?

Before being chastised as a hypocrite, I admit that I have been part of (both the speaker and the listener at different times) that conversation I mentioned in the first paragraph. But I have deliberately chosen to take a different approach to this whole entrepreneurship hullabaloo. I’m trying out the approach of The Permanent Beta, described by Reid Hoffman as those who are always looking out for new avenues to improve what they are good at, doing what they love, practicing new productivity hacks, trying out new ways of working and living, all with an endless curiosity and determination. The only ones who are prepared for the future are those who keep learning everyday. And this practice of being in the permanent beta may result in a successful business venture someday, when the circumstances and resources are right for my idea to foster. It may well be never. I might die before that day comes. But that is not the point. Entrepreneurship is not the end goal. Pursuing what you love and living how you want is the constant and perpetual end goal. And to be honest, I feel that the term entrepreneurship has been blown out of proportions by popular media. The real definition of Entrepreneur, a French word, means a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. This essentially means that your local barber uncle is as legit an entrepreneur as the tech-startup guy who keeps giving you life gyaan (advice). Who said that running a barber shop was not a risky initiative! Or even that guy on the street who entertains bystanders with magic. He might be having a much more happier life than you probably could imagine.

The right life for you might not be the one living in a Manhattan high rise, going to expensive cocktail parties and owning a dozen pair of Armani’s. It may be the one in which you have a 9–5 stable yet interesting job with ample time for you to be a part-time musician doing gigs and volunteer at a local school on weekends teaching underprivileged children. Think about it deeply, you might be surprised by what you really find. In a nutshell, what I mean to say is that the life we need has to be defined and designed from the inside out, not the outside in. And if its only money that you care about, well I guess you are ready to sacrifice your life to being a capitalistic slave and nothing more. In which case I have nothing to say and just want to wish you good luck.