The most important quality that sets entrepreneurs apart is tremendous self-belief. They dream big and are not afraid to pursue those goals.
by Dr. Sidhartha Das Gupta
Are you sitting comfortably at home on a sultry (or balmy, depending on where you are) summer night reading this? Are the lights in your living room switched on, making it possible for you to read?
Count your blessings. If it wasn’t for Thomas Alva Edison, you would probably have been reading this by candlelight. For it was Edison, a brilliant American inventor and entrepreneur who lived more than 80 years ago, to whom we owe our gratitude for inventing the first lightbulb.
The lightbulb is only one of many inventions that have had a profound impact on human life. Several inventions and innovations have proved to be turning points in the history of mankind, changing the way people work, live and interact. Some of the most important have been the work of entrepreneurs like Edison.
A Special Bunch of People
Not all inventors are entrepreneurs though the roles often overlap. Entrepreneurs, by definition, are people who set up businesses and take financial risks in the hope of making profit. Many entrepreneurs like Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were inventors themselves. Several others, like Henry Ford, were simply businessmen.
Entrepreneurs have had a defining impact on the course of human progress. If William Boeing revolutionized the aircraft manufacturing industry, Walt Disney changed the face of children’s entertainment forever. The newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst significantly impacted the history of newspaper publishing and was the real-life character on which the protagonist in Orson Welles’s iconic film, Citizen Kane, was based. Conrad Hilton founded the well-known Hilton hotels chain while Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani have been idols in the fashion world apart from being iconic entrepreneurs. Investor Warren Buffet is among the richest people in the world while Larry Page and Sergei Brin are changing the world with Google.
Entrepreneurs are a special bunch of people. Blessed with the ability to take risks which most other people would shirk away from, entrepreneurs are defined by their courage, focus and perseverance apart from an almost unbelievable capacity for hard work to ensure the success of their dreams. They literally live, dream and breathe their objective to ensure the accomplishment of what they set out to achieve. And every once in a while when they fail, they pick up the pieces and start again, wiser from the experience and more determined.
Above everything else, the most important quality that sets entrepreneurs apart is tremendous self-belief. They dream big and are not afraid to pursue those goals. They believe they can change the world if they persevere hard enough. And often they do, impacting millions of lives in the process and changing the course of history.
Entrepreneurship then and now
While entrepreneurship was considered something of an uncertain career a few decades ago, it is all the rage in today’s world with some of the brightest young minds from top colleges and institutes preferring to set up their own companies and work for themselves rather than take up high paying jobs at established corporations. In the 21st century, entrepreneurship is the buzzword that has got the world all excited. The advance of information technology and computers has been a major factor that has contributed to ushering in the change. With the rapid development of technology, setting up a business has become vastly cheaper and easier than before, leading to a corresponding upswing in the number of entrepreneurs.
The success of entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, whose success at Microsoft has ensured his position as the wealthiest man in the world for several years now, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who figures at No. 5 on the Forbes list of billionaires 2016, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who follows Bezos on the same list, has contributed in no small measure to encouraging more and more people to try their hand at entrepreneurship.
India too has had a rich tradition of entrepreneurship. If the earliest generation of entrepreneurs included trailblazers like Jamsetji Tata, Shiv Narayan Birla and Lovji Wadia who charted out their business careers in British India, the subsequent generation was symbolized by people like Dhirubhai Ambani who single-handedly went on to found one of India’s largest corporations in the 1970s and 80s, Ramoji Rao of the Ramoji Group, Prannoy Roy of NDTV, Kishore Biyani of the Future Group, Subhash Chandra of Zee Telefilms, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon, and of course, N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys.
The latest generation of Indian entrepreneurs are symbolized by people like Sachin and Binny Bansal of Flipkart, Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms, Sameer Gehlaut of Indiabulls and Ranjan Pai of the Manipal Education and Medical Group.
“The start-up sector in India today is buzzing with new business ideas. 2015 was a particularly important year for this sector with an increasing number of companies being set up.”
Start-up India, Stand up India
As India continues its march into the 21st century, the government is looking at entrepreneurship to take away the pressure on jobs and boost wealth creation in the country. In his Independence Day speech in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the intention of his government to lend a helping hand to the start-up sector with a special scheme for entrepreneurs.
In January 2016, the Start-up India programme was announced which proposed a 19-point action plan for start-up enterprises in India. This includes self-certification for an array of formalities ranging from payment of gratuity to labour contract, provident fund management and pollution certifications, a fast-track patent examination scheme, registration of companies through app, a National Credit Guarantee Trust Company (NCGTC) to fund start-ups in need of finance, and significant tax exemptions.
The start-up sector in India today is buzzing with new business ideas. The year 2015 was a particularly important year for the start-up sector with an increasing number of companies being set up, and at the same time, several acquisitions taking place, further consolidating various markets. According to Nasscom, the start-up community in India is the fourth largest in the world and is young, talented and inclusive, with as much as 72% of the founders below the age of 36 and 52% of them with post-graduate degrees.
The Future of Entrepreneurship
With entrepreneurship becoming a vital part of economic growth and development, it is pertinent to ask the question, Where is the profession headed?
There is no one answer, and different experts have different points of view. According to Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL, a former chairman of the Start-up America Partnership, start-ups will become more complex organizations in the future. As they start dealing with increasingly difficult problems, they will need increasingly intricate structures, managements, hierarchies and alliances to meet those challenges. Peter Diamandis, founder of X Prize, an organization that holds competitions with the objective of encouraging technological development for the benefit of mankind, predicts a huge spurt in entrepreneurship in the coming years followed by a tightening of regulations.
Forbes online talks of a future where network will be the key currency for entrepreneurs, the affordability of starting one’s own company will mean that costs will no longer be an excuse for not starting a business, and entrepreneurs will need to build and protect the reputation of their personal brand.
Other experts believe that innovations will speed up, the time between ideation and the decision to either bring that product to the market or abandon it will shrink, and that technology will take over several sectors which have not been significantly affected by it yet.
Gabriela Taylor, who describes her job as helping “entrepreneurs in discovering and fully living their purpose and business ambitions,” believes that ‘digital nomads’—people who provide services through digital means and are therefore able to work without boundaries and on their own schedule—will come to dominate the small business sector. Most importantly, Taylor believes, more and more entrepreneurs will set up businesses in sectors that are close to their hearts, giving them a better chance for success, and ushering in a vast positive life transformation that comes from following your heart and excelling in the career of your choice.
So buckle up and sit tight. If you are an entrepreneur, there is a great deal of excitement awaiting you.
THE 3 MAIN TRAITS OF SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS
Entrepreneurs are smart, grounded and intelligent. They are also intuitive and instinctively know the difference between a winning horse and a losing one. Once they have picked an investment, they back it all the way to the end. But they also have an acute idea of when to walk away from an investment when it is evident that it isn’t working.
Apart from the fundamental qualities of courage, risk taking, determination, perseverance and self-belief, the world’s top entrepreneurs have several additional qualities. Some of the qualities that the finest entrepreneurs share are listed below:
THEY ARE GOOD COMMUNICATORS
Communication is a core skill in every walk of life and for an entrepreneur, it is all the more important. Communication isn’t a one-way thing—the ability to speak clearly and precisely and convey an idea well is only one aspect of communication—but a two-way process that includes listening as well. Apart from being good orators and speakers, the best entrepreneurs are skilful listeners. They know the art of making the people they talk to feel special. They do not distinguish between important and less important people and talk to everyone with the same respect and humility.
There are several advantages of being a good communicator, ranging from cutting down on time wastage due to communication errors and miscommunication, to making a pleasant impression on people, and opening up a range of opportunities with the correct networking.
THEY AREN’T AFRAID TO DELEGATE
The job of an entrepreneur is to promote businesses. They nurture the businesses they set up but once those businesses are capable of standing on their own they typically hire specialists to run them and move on to the next big thing. Entrepreneurs need to be able to delegate work in order to be successful at their core job of setting up more and more businesses.
THEY ARE GOOD TIME MANAGERS
With a business (or several) to manage, entrepreneurs are a busy lot. In addition to this, everyone wants to speak to entrepreneurs because they are the final authority in the company. The finest entrepreneurs not only manage their time well by keeping appointment diaries and noting down priorities, they also realize the value of their time and devise an effective communication process to ensure that only the most important communiqués reach them.
THEY GIVE BACK TO SOCIETY
Successful entrepreneurs are aware of the debt they owe to society which has helped them reach where they are and are only too eager to repay that debt in any way they can. They are active in charity fundraisers and are associated with NGOs and non-profits who are in the business of helping the needy and underprivileged. In this way, apart from helping society, they also build credibility and goodwill of their personal brand in society, leading to some positive brand-building.