If you have always hoped to venture out on your own and make it big, it might be the first sign that you are made for entrepreneurship. However, to have a good shot at building and sustaining a successful business, you need to do a lot of groundwork before you begin. What does it take to be a good entrepreneur? Here are some essentials.
Domain knowledge: You don’t need an MBA to start a business but you definitely need to know the field you are entering. Ideally, it should be a field you have worked with at different levels, and have an understanding of how it works. But if you are really keen on entering an area that is not your domain of expertise, you still can but you need to work on building domain knowledge as a first step. This can be done by taking up a job or internship in the field, talking to people in the business extensively, in depth research, and as much hands-on practice as possible. If you enter a field with little or no domain knowledge, you are likely to spend a lot of time and money making mistakes that could easily have been avoided. You will still learn through trial and error, but you can bypass many errors of a novice.
Basic business knowledge: You don’t need a MBA, and there are many things that you can learn as you go along, but you need to know enough to make a realistic business plan, assess the market, project long-term and short-term goals, and make a convincing pitch to an angel investor.
Skills and qualities needed
Ability to think on your feet
Willingness to take risks
Faith in your idea
Taking the initiative
Ability to stay focused
Willingness to put in long hours
Venture capital: You need to be aware of your sources and limitations when it comes to capital. You need to know how you can raise venture capital, and prepare a viable and convincing business plan. The concept/idea and the financials are the key factors which will attract the attention of a would be investor.
Openness to change: While you need to believe in your idea, and do all you can to make it work, there may be a time when you realize it is just not working. You need to be flexible enough to change your method of approach, modify your product/service or even completely change your product/service to fit market needs. You need a Plan B to salvage the situation. This could include an alternate source of funds, or making a drastic change in your business.
Networking: You can’t be an expert in everything. Getting the right people involved in legal matters, finances, organization and sales is necessary to get things moving well. Advice from other entrepreneurs and people in the field is invaluable.
Willingness to learn: You need a growing knowledge of every aspect of business. Learning from every person you work with or interact with will help.
A course in entrepreneurship
There are Certificate, Diploma, PG Diploma and MBA courses in Entrepreneurship. Any of them will be helpful.
CIIE (Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship), an initiative of IIM – Ahmedabad, provides mentoring and other support.
NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network) provides workshops and short courses.
ASEED and Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), New Delhi offers a six-month PGDEM
Some venture capital funders
SME branches of banks
Lightspeed Venture Partners
Nexus India Capital
India Innovation Investors
Reliance Technology Ventures