‘Entrepreneurship’. If you ask me 2 years ago what does that mean, I’d have my mouth open. Though I had heard of the word before, I never bothered to look what that means. A U-turn came to my life last year, i.e., 2012 when I started subscribing to Technology Review (published by MIT).
It was the March of 2012. The magazine started arriving to my doorstep every month. But after 2-3 months of subscription, I discovered something that really changed the direction of my life – ENTREPRENEURSHIP. As soon as I got to know about it, I found it so interesting that I decided after 1-2 months of dilemma that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just loved it much more than anything. I didn’t want to think if it’d be good for me for my so-called ‘bright’ future, if it’s a good career option & things like that. I just wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always loved technology. So certainly I wanted to be a tech entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship gives you freedom. Freedom to start your own venture. Freedom to give your best produces to the world. And the freedom to lead the world through your excellence. There was something in it that attracted me towards it more than anything else.
Well, much on my personal account. Now, coming to the main point, I want to share my views on why entrepreneurship is so much of important no matter what’s your profession is. It’s something that everyone should develop in themselves. And something that is the necessity of time. As I told you, I was introduced to the concept almost accidentally. But it was so powerful that it won my heart just in one touch. There’s much more to it than we can ever imagine.
The 21st century saw the emergence of entrepreneurship be it in developed nations or developing & how it’s impacting the lives of billions. Most people know of tech entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, among others. We mostly recognize them with their inventive minds & wealth that they generated. We generally think of entrepreneurs as business people with their mostly successful companies. But there’s more to it than wealth. Today, we are also having social entrepreneurs who are affecting the society. Most of you might have heard of education entrepreneur Sal Khan who revolutionized the online education & who was featured on cover page of Forbes last year. There are also many entrepreneurs out there who are establishing schools in developing parts like in Africa. There are also others who are making it possible for poor & educated people to vaccinate their children. Think of the tech entrepreneurs who created world sensations. Google – an invention of Larry & Sergey – is affecting the way we share information. Apple gave us a completely new form of mobile devices that speak for themselves. Microsoft – that created world class office software & OS. And I think I needn’t say about Facebook – which created an impact on the way we connect with each other. These are just very few examples to choose from. There are many such ventures which created an impact in the world. And still they are impacting in an ever-increasing rate. There are more start-ups today than we could have imagined a decade ago.
But how entrepreneurship is impacting the world? Why is it that we need more entrepreneurs? In the world of 7 billion+ people & billions of needs (everyone has their own needs), we anticipate changes around us. The changes can be in our social or economic or political spheres…in our scientific or cultural or educational or technological spheres. Everyone has their own opinions about the changes they wish to see in the world or around them. And from these changes, some collective changes emerge out. For example, education reform that emerged out of many issues & opinions in the education sphere. We, as citizens of this growing world, usually rely or depend upon government or such institutions, be it private or public. We wait for their reactions on a specific issue. We can raise voice, defend them or try to influence their decisions. But in reality, we can never control these issues in the way we wish. Like it or not, that much is our power.
Let’s imagine a situation (which is quite real) in which effective vaccines are not reaching to some remote parts of the world resulting in deaths of millions of children every year from the diseases that can be treated easily. So as concerned citizens, we’d raise the issue to the government bodies. We’d express our views & demands through media. And would wait to see how government reacts on the issue. We may also anticipate steps from big health organizations. Now, government or these organizations may or may not react positively. If they don’t, we’d not have that much to do than to put pressure on these bodies again & again. Let’s say they respond positively & start targeting those parts where vaccines are inadequately supplied. But still, the changes might be quite slow as it involves many steps. Or it may be that still many are not getting vaccines properly. In that situation, what can you do? What should be your steps that directly influence the condition? In such situations, entrepreneurship can take the lead & improve the situation much faster.
You might have heard of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s the largest private organization with an endowment of around $ 38 billion. It’s affecting the developing countries in terms of health & sanitation in the way that is simply world changing. There are many such non-for-profit organizations that are working to provide vaccines to the remote places of the world. Now, to sum up, the influence these organizations create is much more & much faster than what government could have done. Well, I’m not blaming any system or questioning their effectiveness. I’m just pointing to the way small organizations are changing the world. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a much bigger organization. But there are many small organizations growing out of passions of young entrepreneurs who want to directly influence the issues we are facing. So just with passion & effort, we can start our own venture & see the changes we wish to see. As Gandhi once put it – ‘be the change you want to see’. Entrepreneurship gives us that power. Instead of just waiting & watching, we can DO. We can actively participate in the changes that are happening around & can accelerate the process.
I’ve been always interested in space. It’s something that attracts my attention. NASA was my dream destination. But once when I got to know that many of the space missions are getting unfunded or were underfunded, I got little bit of depressed. And retirement of space shuttles was another hit to me. I used to see many comments of people supporting the space missions which are symbolic of our quest for discovery. But we couldn’t actually do much about it. As usual, we can wait & watch. And then came a guy named – Elon Musk, who’s still one of my role models. He co-founded PayPal among others, like Tesla Motors & SolarCity. He had also started a company – SpaceX – that makes space launch vehicles. Founded in 2002, it became the first private company to sent a spacecraft (Dragon) to the International Space Station in 2012 when many space missions in NASA were under-funded. When I discovered him & what he’s doing, I really got inspired. I realized the power that entrepreneurship possesses. At the time, when we were regretting for many cancelled space missions, that guy, through entrepreneurship, completely changed the way we launch. Earlier, no one could think of private companies sending astronauts to space. It was only for government. But the launch of Dragon capsule changed everything. Instead of waiting & watching, he changed the game.
So entrepreneurship gives us the freedom to change whatever we wish to. Needs would always be there. But relying on few institutions should never be the option. Definitely, there are many things that can be solved in the governmental level. Things that a small private company can’t change much. But still, these ventures have enough potential to bring the changes that positively impact the world. They can influence us like no other.
I always see or get to know about young guys seeking jobs. There are many jobless guys around in whichever country you live in. The shocking fact is that many of them are graduates or have good educational background. Now there are many reasons behind educated guys not getting jobs. I’d not discuss that topic here. There are also many people who regret that these days government jobs are scarce & they are hard to get. Sometimes there’re jobless guys & sometimes guys with high-salaried jobs. I don’t have much to say about jobless guys. But for those who have very good jobs too, they don’t enjoy their days. They have very less to do in the companies or organizations they work for. Even if they wish for big changes, they can’t.
So for those who are seeking for jobs, I ask them – why are you searching for jobs when you can create them? What’s out there in government jobs for which you are sitting without any work in hand? Even, what’s out there in companies? If you can do a job better with your own strategy, then why not do it in your own way? And finally, why you need to be victim of unemployment? I remember telling my dad – I’d not take salary, I’d give. Well, honestly speaking, there’s no need for every single individual to start their own company. Because then, there’d not be any! But a small group of individuals can take entrepreneurial approach & start their own company to do a task better instead of searching for jobs. Instead of relying on government & big multi-national companies, what’s bad on relying on yourself, on your own start-up? If everyone thinks on the same line, we’d not only created much more jobs, but would also do a job in a faster & better way. And no one would need to keep roaming for jobs. If a company (or government) rejects you, start your own company. Show others that you can do it better.
And for those who are doing good-salaried but unsatisfactory jobs, the only thing I can say is that start your own company & do things that you like. Sometimes you want to do something different but as there are fewer choices for you, you need to give up. You fear to be jobless. So you choose the as usual paths. But what’s about your own startup & creating jobs that are different? So instead of waiting & watching, DO.
To wrap up, I just want to share one thing with you – there’s no way we can wait for changes. We’d need to take initiatives & change the things around. Relying on few institutions is never a good option. Moreover, how would these institutions be able to manage to initiate lots of changes. We want changes after changes. So it’s better we should fulfill our own needs. There’s no way we can anticipate for changes to come. If we want something, let’s do it. Also, entrepreneurship should never be taken as a way to generate wealth alone. If you are selling some products & doing business, you’d generate wealth. But entrepreneurial approach can be taken in any sphere of life as it’s taken in business. It’s not something that you learn. There’re of course courses that teach you about entrepreneurship. I’m not ignoring them. But still, one thing I’d say – entrepreneurship is something that you develop from within. There’s nothing like that a course would make you an entrepreneur. You can of course learn it. But at the end of the day, you’d yourself need to take initiative to develop it within. You’d have to embrace it.
The biggest setback ahead of you in becoming entrepreneur is – the fear of failure. (I may write a post on this topic). That’s important to realize. Entrepreneurship is full of risks & instability. You’d not fail once; you might even fail more than 10 times. And succeeding once, never means you’d not fail. So the road is not that straightforward. But it’s a road which leads to nothing but prosperity. And today, I believe entrepreneurship is not a choice. It has now become a necessity. With it, you can solve a problem, initiate changes you wish to see, and get freedom to do however you want to do. There’s no need for every entrepreneur to become Bill Gates. Even if you influence a handful people around you, it’s much more. So don’t wait & watch, DO, DO, and DO. Be the change you want to see.
Best wishes for your future journey as an entrepreneur. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2014. May this year be fruitful to you & your near dear…
© Sandeep Deva Misra. 2011-13
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