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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 31, 30 October - 5 November

 

Challenges and Rewards of Entrepreneurship

 

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

 

 ITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) are considered highly prestigious institutes in our country. Top companies offer many students from these institutes lucrative positions during the campus placement process. However, not every student is willing to take up such dream assignments, as many choose the path of entrepreneurship.

A regular job has its advantages. Your roles are defined, you get your salary month after month, and you work with a team comprising colleagues and others, which provides a social setting. Moreover, working with a prestigious organization adds to your social stature; you get promotions and rise in the hierarchy. Despite these perks, many people think differently, preferring to become entrepreneurs even though the path is laden with uncertainty and challenges.

In a job, even if you're a great worker, your value is filtered through the perception of your superiors, your colleagues, and office culture, which may be good or bad. Even for the best performers, there is a limit to what they earn though money is not the only criterion. People who prefer freedom and independence over job security and stable income have no qualms leaving their comfort zone and embracing entrepreneurship. For hard-working and committed people, there may be limitless opportunities in becoming an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is both challenging and fulfilling.

If we look around, we see that most people choosing entrepreneurship have not gone through formal education in the subject (of entrepreneurship). They do not consider it necessary to spend time on such a course and prefer to start straightaway.

Everyone thinking of becoming an entrepreneur has the choice of first studying the subject and then embarking on an endeavour or skipping the academic route and starting straightaway. However, those who are looking to join a course have ample options.

A general MBA or Postgraduate Diploma in Management can provide you with enough inputs to start your venture. The objective of such a course is to equip people to own and run an enterprise. Courses with a specific focus on Entrepreneurship are also available in different forms.

A comprehensive course will cover the following:-

Basics of entrepreneurship, entre-preneurial career and aspirations, entrepreneurship theory and practice, business economics, management concepts and organizational behaviour, financial reporting, new product development, business economics, business statistics and analytics for decision making, opportunity sensing, financial management, human resource management, costing for decision making, Indian economy and economic policy, social entrepreneurship, industry verticals, design thinking, customer discovery, strategic management, computer application for business, legal aspects of business, Indian financial system and markets, basics of international trade, operations management, business taxation, market segmentation and pricing, launching and managing an enterprise, project formulation and feasibility analysis, new enterprise financing and appraisal, intellectual property rights, technology commercialization, doing business with government and public sector, project management, opportunities in emerging markets, plan formulation, business risk management, strategic cost management, quality management system, project formulation and feasibility analysis, advocacy and networking, integrated marketing communications, sales and distribution management, supply chain and logistics management, retail management, investment analysis and portfolio management, financial regulations, international trade laws, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, team dynamics, strategic, negotiation skills, technology licensing, and commercialization, enterprise resource planning, fundraising and resource mobilization, pitching and venture funding, social and rural marketing, customer acquisition, retention and growth etc.

 

Characteristics of an Entrepreneur: When one applies for a job, employers judge a candidate's suitability for the given role. For gauging the suitability of a candidate, a written test, interview, group discussion, and other exercises are conducted. In the same way, before one decides to become an entrepreneur, one should do some self-evaluation. Entrepreneurship is very different from being an employee in a company. At least, in the beginning, the days are challenging and demanding. The initial challenges should not deter you. You will come across many problems but remember, every situation has a solution. You may have to work extra hours and do a variety of tasks. Few things may not move in the desired way, but instead of getting disappointed, you have to review and do what is best possible in the given situation.

 

Described below are some common traits of a successful entrepreneur:

 

  • Ability to take risks: One may be well prepared, but starting any business involves considerable risk. The courage and capacity to endure and face these risks are essential for any entrepreneur. 
  • Open-mindedness: You may come across people who do not think your way. In a few situations, the reality will be different than what you had expected. You should be open and understanding towards such cases and use these to broaden your perspective.
  • Visionary: The term visionary is used for many great personalities like J R D Tata, M Visvesvaraya, etc. Reaching their level may not be possible for everyone, but the idea is that you should think long-term and see the big picture. Even though you start small, but you should strive for continuous growth.
  • Innovative: For an entrepreneur, innovation matters a lot. Innovating means coming up with new ideas, which can be put to practical use for competitive advantage. Innovation can happen with experimenting and exploring. Some examples of innovation are product innovation, profit innovation, process innovation, and cost innovation.
  • Leadership: Leadership itself is a combination of many qualities. In the case of entrepreneurship, you need to have courage, initiative, and selfmotivation with a clear focus. Leadership qualities can be developed by observing great personalities and reading about their lives. The leadership being talked about here is much different from political leadership.
  • Self-confidence: The simple truth is that others will trust you only when you trust yourself. You should have the confidence to make your own decisions with the required maturity. Working on increasing your capabilities and believing in your abilities will boost your self-confidence.

 

 

Steps involved in Entrepreneurship: Once you have decided to become an entrepreneur, you will be required to plan meticulously and follow the steps one by one. The preliminary step is to decide the area in which you would like to work. There are two approaches to that. There are people who like some activity and then decide to take up an entrepreneurial venture involving that particular activity. For example, somebody may have a concern for environment protection and may take up some particular revenue generating activity related to that. The other approach is to explore opportunities, evaluate options and then come to a conclusion about the venture to be undertaken. Whichever way one decides, gathering information about the market opportunities, business potential, financial requirements, and regulatory issues is a must. Then comes location. Many activities can be started from home whereas some may have a different location requirement particularly where production work is involved. Funding is a highly significant part. In a few cases, you may not need any external funding. In case where one needs finance from external sources, you need to learn about the sources, the extent to which you will need the funding and the conditions attached to the funding. In case of bank financing, you may be required to furnish security and guarantee.

 

Public sector banks have a number of schemes to assist budding entrepreneurs. For promoting rural entrepreneurship, regional rural banks have been asked to implement various government schemes. Banks provide loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Mudra scheme has also been launched in 2015 which has three variants Shishu, Kishore and Tarun. Eligibility criteria and other details may be found at their official website www.mudra.org.in.

 

Some of the central government departments have schemes for entrepreneurship development in their area of work. Many state governments too have established entities to help and fund entrepreneurs in their state. A number of non-governmental organizations, trusts and other philanthropic bodies are also involved in promoting and financing entrepreneurs. Venture capital funds may be approached.

 

Before you approach any bank or agency for funding your proposed enterprise, you should be ready with your plan, estimates, projections and marketing strategies. You need to sell your idea to them before they become ready to offer you assistance. Once you are assured of funding, you will have to work towards obtaining approvals, permissions and decide about plant, machinery, labour, raw material, electricity as per needs and requirements. Wherever you need to hire people, there is need to ensure that you choose only those who prove to be an asset in terms of their skills, knowledge and attitude.

 

Scale of Entrepreneurship: Whether you want to start at a small scale or large scale is again a matter of choice which will depend on a number of factors like risk appetite, availability of resources and managing ability. Bigger the scale, more are the requirements and bigger the risk. Those having limited resources may start small and then scale it up. There are many instances of friends, batch mates coming together to start a venture with joint efforts. It is up to you, if you want to go solo or with one or more persons.

 

Areas of Entrepreneurship: There is no dearth of areas to start an entrepreneurial venture. However you should select the area based on your understanding of it, sustainability and relevance. Some of the areas can besoftware development/testing, computer hardware, health and wellness, agricultural and food processing, travel, tourism and hospitality, logistics and supply chain management, plastics, chemicals, textiles and garments, energy clean technology, waste management, material manufacturing, electrical equipment, electronic items, arts and crafts, gift items, pharmaceuticals, biotech, education including e-education and coaching, training, information technology, business process outsourcing, media and entertainment, natural resource management, environment and sustainable management, sustainable livelihood, financial technology etc.

 

Courses in Entrepreneurship : Entrepreneurship Development Institute, Ahmedabad, is promoted by a number of banks and is a renowned institute working in the area of entrepreneurial education since 1983. It conducts Postgraduate Diploma in Management-Entrepreneurship and PGDM - Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture. Delhi Technological University has MBA - Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Development as well as MBA - Family Business and Entrepreneurship. The National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), NOIDA is a premier organization of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, engaged in training, consultancy, research, etc. in order to promote entrepreneurship and skill development. It conducts Entrepreneurship Development Programmes in various forms-classroom, online and e-module. Centre for Development of Entrepreneurship, Madhya Pradesh (CEDMAP), Bhopal with its branches in few cities of the state is into entrepreneurship education. Many other states in the country also have such entities. Many of the IIMs (Indian Institute of Management) have management courses with specialization in or focus on entrepreneurship. A number of IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) are also involved in entrepreneurship development by way of training, seminars and short term programmes. Many other management and engineering institutes have entrepreneurship development programmes

 

Learning resources for everyone: To learn about entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial successes (and failures) and entrepreneurial opportunities you may use various resources which are within easy reach: financial/business newspapers and magazines, business news channels and websites. There are books on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. One may also enrol for short term entrepreneurship courses some of which have been mentioned in this article. Being an entrepreneur offers you the opportunity of growth and selftransformation. You create employment for others and with your success may also become an inspiration for the new generation.

 

(The author is a career consultant. He can be reached at v2j25@yahoo.in) Views expressed are personal Image Courtesy: Google)