Archive for September, 2010

Words of Wisdom from Successful Entrepreneurs #1

September 27, 10 by Bharani

Entrepreneur Magazine India recently came up with an anniversary edition where successful business people and entrepreneurs shared their stories and words of wisdom to other aspiring entrepreneurs. I am summarizing them for my own reference as well as for other’s benefits

Rana Kapoor, CEO and MD of YES Bank.

  1. Test your idea without giving it away
  2. Create a team that is willing to experiment effectively
  3. Thing Big!


Saurabh Srivastava, Founder of Indian Angel Network

  1. There may be many in the sector you want to jump into, so it is very important that you ask yourself why you will succeed.
  2. Do not stop at merely having a great idea that will excite everyone.
  3. Do not fear to try over and over again.


Sanjeev Bikchandani, Founder and CEO of InfoEdge India Limited

When I quit my job, I was too used to a salaried check. Within six months of quitting, I realized the perceived risks in entrepreneurship were much higher than the real risks. So I would advice entrepreneurs to get rid of their fears and not overstress themselves.

B.V. Jagadeesh, President and CEO of 3Leaf Systems

  1. To build a great company you need a great product, great team and great markets
  2. Opportunities are massive today as compared to even 10 years ago. This means the entrepreneur needs to be even more laser-sharp to focus on areas that he/she understands well.
  3. The toughest decision an entrepreneur and a startup company have to make is to say “no”. Saying yes is very easy and the more you say yes, the more focus your company loses and resources are spread thin. At the same time, you have to know when and for what you should say no, otherwise you might end up saying no to the wrong thing and lose a huge market opportunity.
  4. You, as an entrepreneur, need to be open and broad-minded and at the same time take tough decisions and stand by them.
  5. You should allow debates within the organization rather than follow a dictatorial approach.


Pradeep Kar, Founder, Chairman and Managing Directory, Microland Limited

  1. It’s an entrepreneurs job to raise money, and I would urge all entrepreneurs to give it adequate time and energy to raise capital rather than depending on a finance manager.
  2. Always raise capital more than you need.
  3. Spend a lot of your time and energy hiring people. Atleast 25% of an entrepreneurs time should be spent in finding good talent for the organization. Once you find good talent, ensure you don’t come in their way of growth.
  4. Listen to your own gut feelings.
  5. Don’t be afraid of failure or to take a decision.


Shah Rukh Khan, Actor and Entrepreneur

You should also strike while the iron’s hot. Don’t sit on your ideas if you feel it’s the right time to start a business around them.

Raghav Bahl, Founder & Editor of Network 18

Just as Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, an entrepreneur in my humble book is 1% capital and 99% persistence, focus and humility.

Captain Gopinath, Chairman and MD, Deccan 360

  1. Don’t be afraid to think big. When we build, let us think that we build forever.
  2. Don’t ever stop learning. The day you stop, your organization dies.
  3. Energize yourself by drawing energy from people and ideas around you.
  4. Don’t get distracted by naysayers. Have faith in your idea and be determined to make it work.
  5. Being an entrepreneur is like being immortal, because you leave a footprint behind. So go for it.


Deep Kalra, Founder & CEO,

You regret the things you don’t do in life; not the things you do. So, go build the business you want to.

Phaneesh Murthy, CEO, iGate

  1. Start the venture in your area of expertise.
  2. Don’t be greedy.
  3. The first few deals should be done in a missionary manner.
  4. Invest in talent, intellectual capital and physical infrastructure before chasing the first deal.
  5. Have fun – it’s your company after all.


Rajeev Karwal, Founder, Milagrow business and knowledge solutions

  1. Be clear about exactly what you want to do.
  2. While starting up, don’t waste too much time searching for outside funds.
  3. Great teamwork can push you far.
  4. Start the business with the right processes and tools so that the system gets established right from the very beginning of your organization.
  5. Never depend on seasonal customers or clients that take up 60-70% of your work. You will have beginner’s luck which will help; don’t let the reverses pull you down and rise every time you fall.




Entrepreneurship as Disease

September 17, 10 by Bharani

A good friend Sankar Nivas, forwarded me this article about Entrepreneurship. This is yet another perspective about Entrepreneurship. The author’s take is that Entrepreneurs are not driven by money, while Businessmen are driven by money and Entrepreneurs have a common personality trait.

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I have heard far too many answers to this question. Everything from being a risk taker, inventor, a small business owner, to being just plain crazy or lucky. But none of these things have anything to do with entrepreneurialism, and frankly neither does much of what I have read in business books. Even the always insightful Malcolm Gladwell, in a recent New Yorker article on the subject, only got it half right.

Being an entrepreneur is something far different than what most people think. It is not about behavior (whether risk-prone or risk-averse); it is not about business type (you can run a small business, a public company, a division of a company, or be an investor); and it is not about title (you do not have to be a CEO to be an entrepreneur). Instead, I see it as a personality trait. There are plenty of small business owners and start-up founders who do exceptionally well — but are not what I would consider entrepreneurs. Just like in big business, you can be a successful general manager without being an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial.

I liken entrepreneurism to a disease. Having it myself, I am not always sure it is a good thing. That so many people wish to suffer from it just tells me they don’t understand it. Entrepreneurs, as the story goes, embody the American dream. They come from nowhere to build large empires, reap huge rewards, and live a lavish lifestyle. There is Larry Ellison and his yachts; Bill Gates and his 66,000-square foot smart house; Ted Turner and his nearly 2 million acres of land; Larry Page and his 747.

But those are the outliers. Gladwell’s well-received book of the same name estimated it takes nearly 10,000 hours of work to gain true expertise. Entrepreneurs are all in, all the time. Entrepreneurs love what they do and obsess over it. It is a predisposition; a path that has already been laid for you. It is a character trait, a labor of love, a zeal that cannot be trained, a condition that cannot be treated, an illness that cannot be caught. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Here are some questions to see if you have it:

Do you wake up before your alarm goes off, hop out of bed excited to go to work? (good)
Do you race to the car, forgetting breakfast, your morning coffee, and the paper? (better)
Halfway to work, do you look down, realize you forgot to shower, shave, or get dressed? (great)
Do you pause for a second, and then decide–what the hell–and head to work anyways? (diagnosis: entrepreneurialism; cure unknown)
I have done this far too many times, without any hesitation or embarrassment (my team jokingly calls these antics “Stibel-isms” but it’s really just entrepreneurism). Think of it as a very deep focus that is quite difficult to shake out of, especially when juxtaposed against life’s daily activities. Most people use a calendar to remind them of meetings and events; I have on my calendar such mundane things as eating lunch! Many people mistake entrepreneurism for ADD, or obsessiveness, or risk-taking, or hyper-mania or a host of other quirks. But entrepreneurs are really just manic-manic — there is one switch and it is always turned to on.

What drives an entrepreneur is not money. That is what drives businesses and businesspeople. But for an entrepreneur, money is merely a yardstick. Frankly, entrepreneurism is a very difficult and unpredictable way to make a living. It is often binary: either you make more money than your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren will know what to do with; or you go broke. Most entrepreneurs fail miserably. If you want to guarantee a good living — one that will offer you a successful, stable career and a nice inheritance for your kids — listen to your mother and become a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson.

What makes some entrepreneurs successful is the same thing that makes others successful: relying on strengths and avoiding weaknesses. To be sure, entrepreneurs have an upper hand (or at least I like to think so): the energy level is higher, the confidence level is higher, and with time, entrepreneurs have a higher tendency to acquire subject-matter expertise. But success comes not from those things alone, but by leveraging core competencies. What makes me successful (sometimes) is that I combine my entrepreneurism with my strengths in taking calculated risks, decision making, and building teams of people I admire.

If you are an entrepreneur, use it to your advantage. But if not, don’t try to become one. (It won’t work — and why try to contract a disease? You wouldn’t try to get the measles). Instead, figure out what you do best and aim to do it better than anyone else. And if your organization needs an entrepreneur for it to succeed, just hire one.

Written by Jeffrey M. Stibel – Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. He is an entrepreneur, a brain scientist, and the author of Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet.