While I was sitting in an airport lounge trying to kill time, a video on my social media wall caught my attention.
Video was of our friendly neighbourhood Sadhguru who can be found everywhere saving someone or something all the time, and this time he was saving IIM-B students. As IIM-B is one of the top business schools of our nation that you can join only if you possess exceptional level of deductive intelligence, I became curious about what an IIM-B student needed to learn from an ascetic.
Strange though may it sound, the video was about becoming entrepreneur in India.
It took a great Guru and his infinite wisdom to figure out that India being underdeveloped, there were a lot of things still left to make, and as every problem has a solution, it can be looked at as a business opportunity.
Apparently, this wisdom was not part of curriculum of IIM-B, so when the Guru revealed it, there was a collective gasp of surprise of wow-why-didn’t-we-think-of-it followed by clapping by the students.
While I failed to see how this rhetoric helped anybody in becoming an entrepreneur, it made me understand something more serious.
Young Indians, however bright and informed, are confused about what to do.
As they desperately look for answers, an industry has spawned around this demand that is captured by Gurus, mentors, inspirational speakers and motivators who offer them utter rubbish that kids lap up as wisdom and, lot worse, share it on their social media walls to feel encouraged about being entrepreneurs.
As this malaise is spreading like a plague, I am getting worried. The nation needs entrepreneurs desperately, but are we going in the right direction?
As everyone is trying their hands at advising young Indians, I am also tempted to try and offer some homespun wisdom, a sort of Dummy’s guide for you to figure out if you have entrepreneurship in you.
A great point to start in this journey of self-discovery is by asking yourself a simple question, i.e. why do you want to become an entrepreneur?
If you want to help the society, reduce pollution, save the planet, help the stray dogs, in short do anything that you feel will be towards a good cause, my simple advice is, AVOID entrepreneurship.
Become an entrepreneur only if your heart is telling you that you want to make money, the more the better. It is the simplest and most crucial qualification that you must possess.
The next question to ask should be when you want to start your business. If the answer has after-you-find-a-partner/money/place/idea or any other precondition, my advice again is, AVOID.
If you feel that entrepreneurship needs staller alignment of any sort, you are not made for it.
If you have passed the above two tests, you can now ask yourself where you want to start it.
If you feel that you should pick a start-up hub where there are a lot of other kids like you drinking coffee and debating ideas, my serious suggestion is that you need to pick up a job and wean yourself off the comforts of student life before consider starting your business.
Startup incubators and hubs that have opened across India looked like a great idea from the perspective of offering business infrastructure initially, but now I look at them a real threat to entrepreneurship.
Modern business models are not really infrastructure intensive in their early days, so an incubator is not really a great replacement of soft loan. What is worse is that these places allow kids fresh out of colleges to remain cocooned in the comforts of campus life. As they gather and discuss ideas, they develop a false sense of being occupied; while, in reality it is nothing more than a new version of hanging around the college canteen because you are scared of facing the real world out there.
So, if you want to hang around in a start-up hub, do so provided you want to have a good time, but not of you want to have a good business.
The last but most telling key to finding out if you are made for business can be found on your social media wall.
Please check you wall, especially LinkedIn for the kind of stuff you have liked and shared since you felt like becoming an entrepreneur.
If you find that you have started liking and sharing inspirational quotes or stories that is a real red flag for you to watch out for. If you have joined online start-up communities to keep yourself focused and motivated, you should really reconsider your plan and return to the folds of placement.
The first sign of a natural business person would a deep aversion for all kind of rhetoric. He/she would have absolute clarity, often completely misplaced, and would hate any kind of advice or wisdom, especially from a Guru.
The drive to do would be so insanely intense and blinding that he/she would be incapable of stopping. So, if you need motivation, and lot worse, feel the need of getting inspired by a quote, you are best doing a job instead of trying your hands a business.
If you feel that any of the above is written in jest, let me tell you with utmost sincerity that it is not.
I have started looking at the new fad of start-ups as a great threat to India’s future.
India needs businesses owned by young people, but not by kids who are dreamy eyed.
As I see kids looking for inspiration in packed halls where mentors throng to motivate them, I am becoming more and more convinced that this is not the metal that can be forged into hardened steel that an Indian businessman must be made of.
I can clearly see that after a decade, we will see a lot of lost kids who thought that they were entrepreneurs because they were told by Gurus that it was very simple and that is what youth is made for.
Thus inspired, they would have wasted their precious time under the illusion of being occupied, the nation too would have lost a lot of opportunities.
The entire start-up scene and the false air of vibrancy that the youth of the nation are made to feel needs serious reconsideration. Young people need help to chase business ideas, but it is better done by offering financial assistance instead of the hype.
India needs to focus on systemic reform for ease of doing business and, even more importantly install new-business-friendly procurement policies. At this point, sectors like defence look to be encouraging for new businesses, but we are miles away from having them open enough for new businesses to enter.
We are talking about creating businesses without actually creating suitable markets. This would lead to a lot of frustration once those who are setting up businesses in hope.
If there is no reformative action in time, Indian start-up sector awaits a bloodbath. What can make it worse for us a nation is that, it would be the young generation of the nation that will be losing hope if that happens.