The dark side of entrepreneurship

Perspective: Great people come with great resilience

Meghna Maiti

“The average man don’t like trouble and danger,” says Mark Twain in his book ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,’ explaining the reality that war and suffering are the integral part of the legacy that any successful individual leaves behind.

Here Twain was not just referring to the struggles involving a sustained, meaningful journey, under definite circumstances but the emotional and intellectual engagement that an individual goes through while countering powerful, oppressive forces. In modern context, enterprising individuals such as entrepreneurs live through such harrowing times.

Around 90 per cent of Indian startups fail within the first five years, according to a recent IBM and Oxford study. In the worst cases, it’s just not about a business failure but a complete bankruptcy. And the damage doesn’t stop there. This goes on to affect a person psychologically, deeply and leaves a scar or a trauma.

Also, the entire journey of entrepreneurship is not just about innovation, enterprise or funding. It also means walking through one’s own darkness and facing up to what one essentially doesn’t want to face about oneself. When a person initially starts a business with a meagre fund, it’s a lot about dealing with different kinds of people, with different temperament and character traits. They form the entire ecosystem of the entrepreneurs. By tactfully dealing with them, an entrepreneur learns a lot about his own flaws too. Secondly, they learn to live frugally and spending on what is really essential. Sometimes one might not even have money for the basics. Only with right accounting and judicious spending, one could tide through this time.

Thirdly, the challenge comes during economic downturn, when all fingers point at him, including his own family members. Creditors, vendors and bankers start knocking at the door. Family members such as say spouse, father starts blaming him for all the trouble and for the uncertain economic situation. Closing the business also doesn’t seem like a viable option as it had already become so much a part of his life. One shouldn’t succumb to depression during such times. But, take a pause and sort out things in a cool-headed manner. He should start finding out new strategies to overcome this situation. By now, he should also form a support network to stay strong and stay confident.

Hence, entrepreneurship is as much about being prepared for repercussions of bad decisions, bad luck and bad economies as passion or innovation.

Fourthly, there’s the fear of naysayers or constant whisper of negativity. People would come and say to your ear that ‘you are taking the most foolish risk,’ or how ‘you should just quit this and take up a stable, secured job at a company.’ One should not get demotivated by this. It’s all about believing so much in your dreams that you don’t get influenced by such cynics.

And then, in the end, even if the business fails, he doesn’t need to regret about lost times. He could start over once again and take respite in the fact that he hadn’t cosied up in a safe space but stood up and took a shot at his dreams. After all, how many people get to do that in India?

How have you countered your dark period while setting up your business? Please share your story.





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