After nearly a decade of record breaking placement figures grabbing headlines Entrepreneurship is the buzzword on campuses across India.
While the economic slowdown of 2009 reversed the trend of record breaking placement offers at academic institutes across the country most prominently at B schools, it also lead to a positive development on another front entrepreneurship. Compelled to come out of their reverie and look at life beyond a cushy job, students across the country are increasingly turning entrepreneurs.
Statistics from top management institutions indicate a large number of students now turning down job offers, sometimes lucrative ones, in favor of starting up their own venture. While this creation of some very successful enterprises unfortunately there have been a large number of failed set ups as well
So, what makes one a successful entrepreneur? What are the taps one must look out for before deciding to ditch the white collar job in favor of the dirt and grime of the years of struggle that entrepreneurship entails?
Unfortunately, for many students it seems to be a case of blindly following the herd. An important thing to ensure before taking up entrepreneurship is that you are doing it for the right reasons. In countries like the US, campus entrepreneurship has been common for a while. In India, however, the trend has just caught on and there is a lot of hype around it. Realms of media space are being dedicated to entrepreneurship and everybody now wants to be a part of the trend. Hence, there is a general air if he /she an do it, so can I. Students don’t anticipate the effort and struggle that entrepreneurship entails. Thus, it is of utmost importance that they do a reality check before taking the plunge.
Students also often commit the mistake of thinking that a good idea creates a successful enterprise. While having a sound idea is important, not all ideas might have commercial value.
There is a difference between a business and entrepreneurship Business is largely based on demand supply gap, where success is largely a function of technical and managerial skills to manage the resources that are already available. Actual entrepreneurship is about creating a demand or supply or both. One must have some new values to be offered in an innovative way or method.
Having said that it is also true that no idea is good or bad It is an entrepreneur who can turn an idea into a great success trough sheer hard work persistence and continuous problem solving.
The way to validate the potential of an idea is to speak to people who will offer unbiased views on it. First time entrepreneurs especially students tend to get too possessive about their ides and are not willing to share it. There is also the fear of an idea being imitated by others. However, an outsider can help bring in a different perspective and point out the several loopholes that one may have overlooked. This can be of great help in making the product or service better. An idea must be sound and strong but not necessarily one that will change the world.
Identify available support
Easy access to technology and resources coupled with infrastructural setup being provided by institutes, and a host of available funding options such as angel networks venture capital etc make it much easier to start an enterprise today than ever before. Colleges toady are opening up business incubators to mentor, support and fund students.
In our country where educational institutions hold an advantage in terms of infrastructure as well as domain knowledge, they can be the central axis which can develop and spread entrepreneurship in their respective areas of expertise. More and more institutes are walking up to the importance of entrepreneurship towards the development of the economy and society as well as their own reputation building.
Entrepreneurs should look out for the following aspects before signing up for incubation.
It is natural for an entrepreneur to become impatient to see his or her startup scale up and become successful but patience and perseverance are important Virtues that an entrepreneur needs to cultivate.
Vasu Mishra, who along with his friends started up while still a student himself agrees that it is important to take into consideration the probable outcomes of initiating a venture and also to ensure that not only do you have the right idea, but are also at the right place at the right time. When we started a science magazine Prays for school students we had not heard the adage you ate not own audience. We were not successful in infusing our enthusiasm for science into students who were only concerned about their scores and ranks. Thus, the magazines couldn’t continue longer. Before starting out it is essential to be clear about the scope and relevance of your idea in the market and to have some basic demographic info of your target audience.
Starting off a company is easy. But sustaining it for long is not. One must be sure about the time he /she can dedicate to anew venture. It requires perseverance and as a student if anyone would want to get into entrepreneurship he /she must plan for at least three to five years of full time dedication. If you are in two minds about talking a job or pursuing your higher studies. It is better you clear these dilemmas before making the choice to start a venture.
Entrepreneurship entails high rewards but also high risks. It is only after one has decided to start something of their own that a lot of problems become evident. Yet, if the start is right, then the road ahead becomes smoother.
Anyone who wants to opt only or an easier way of life should not attempt any achievement at all. If something is easy, it can be done by anyone. Entrepreneurs always seek challenges and aspire to stretch beyond their own perceived capabilities.
Things to watch out for before signing up for an incubation program:
1) The expertise of the institute (faculty, experience) in the area that they wish to start up in.
2) Networks and tie ups of the incubator.
3) Infrastructure and general facilities and equipments
4) Quality of the mentorship network.
5) The incubator’s ability to give them access to funds or to investors.
6) Other terms and conditions of incubation as per the requirement of the entrepreneur payments models, exit mechanism stakes if any etc.