My journey so far…
May I ask you to take a moment to apply these three questions on yourself:
- Have you ever looked around at the way things are being done – and get the feeling that you can improve them, change them, influence them so that they’re better? But then you feel that you can’t – because you’re too confined by your responsibilities or your job… or that taking such an action would bring you out of your comfort zone?
Do you still “love your job” the way you did when you started? – Or, has it become a monotonous drag that you’re too scared to let go of because of the steady income?
Do you find it unacceptable that someone else can decide that your time from 9 AM to 6 PM each day is worth a pay check of X Rupees? Would you rather work for yourself and thereby increase your earning avenues?
The tipping point…
“Yaar, Kuch Apna Karna hai ”
“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
“A Services Company.. Really?”
The first discouragement I got when i started Zindagi out was – “Why a services company? Aren’t there enough of those? You’ll just be a commodity! What value will you add? Make a product instead!”.
All the above points are true and valid in their own right – being a services company is hard work; the competition is steep; the margins aren’t all that great; reputation is everything; it’ll take years to build a reputation of being a quality service provider – and you’re going head first competing with the behemoths of the service industry.
Despite all of that, I went ahead with a services venture anyway. Why? Because I saw the potential to do things better. To convert requirements to scalable, resilient, cost-effective solutions. To choose the right products and, wherever required – to develop bespoke solutions to meet customer requirements.
Here’s a quote from Steve Jobs on challenging status quo:
“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.
Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)
I’m working towards some ambitious goals for my company for the next 2 years. Some of them are:
- Make Zindagi a company where the team is self-motivated, and where innovation and creativity is encouraged and rewarded.
- Build a reputation for Zindagi – one that represents Honesty, Competence, Commitment to customer success and the ability to execute consistently.
- Contribute in making India grow by working on the planning, design and implementation of all ICT components of Smart Cities.
- Build an easy to use, vendor agnostic, modular, policy driven IT Automation product.
For everything I think I do right each day, I feel there are perhaps a 100 things i feel i could have done better. Each day, I’m learning how I can serve my customers better; how I can build a better team; how my company can contribute to the growth and prosperity of this country…
The intent of this series of blog posts titled “Kuch Apna Karna Hai…” is to share some lessons i learnt along this journey so far; maybe some of you will find them useful when discovering your own path. Good luck!
Lesson: Avoid taking advice about entrepreneurship from family or friends
Mum’s been a teacher all her life. Dad – a doctor. There was no one in the family to advice me on how to run a business.
I live in New Delhi. If a group of researchers were to be asked to identify the top 10 cities in the world that nurture technical entrepreneurship – I find it highly unlikely that my Dilli would make that list – perhaps Silicon Valley and Bangalore would be somewhere close to the top.
I had no idea where to start – Do I want to become a services company? Do I want to make a product? Should I become an online reseller?
Wait for a few more years
Gain some more sales experience
Get an MBA first
Don’t do it – you’ll most likely fail. You’ve got stability in your life – why take the stress? why break the equilibrium? Why take the risk?
- You’ll not going to do anything that hasn’t been done before… nothing impactful will come out of your efforts – why bother?
Lesson: Before starting, get your finances in order…
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
Over and above the planned business budget – Save at least a years’ worth of cash for your family expenses.
Learn to live in a “college student budget”.
Determine how much you’ll need to spend per month for such a lifestyle.
Multiply afore-mentioned amount times 12.
Your savings will go out of the window if you’re not covered.
PLEASE do not buy ULIP and Endowment plans – go for term insurance!
Get health insurance for your parents and yourself. Yeah – your company provided you medical cover as an employee – but now you’ll need to cover for yourself… bummer
Get your home and car insured.
It’s best to go in without any financial baggage. Before putting in your papers, try not to have any financial burden – no car loan, no home loan, no personal loan, no education loan.