Is entrepreneurship difficult in India?

Source: India Abroad News Service

 Aug 6 (IANS) It has been said that Lakshmi and Saraswati were always competing for supremacy against each other. Wherever Saraswati went, Lakshmi used to follow. It is believed that if one prays for Saraswati, Lakshmi will follow. If Saraswati departs, Lakshmi will depart with her, leaving behind her elder sister Lakshmi who will bring misfortune. Symbolically, prosperity or money follow when we hone our skills.

The deep-rooted problem with entrepreneurship is the evil of our society where the size of wealth is the determinant of stature and prominence. Questions like how many billion dollars is your market capitalisation? How much can you spend on marriages? How easily can you walk into a powerful person’s office so on and so forth are what drives an entrepreneur’s ambition of trying to build wealth too quickly and diversify into many unrelated activities. This further leads to entrepreneurs taking high debt, believing that success of each of their ventures is given, and once they start failing, they get entangled in methods which are neither sustainable nor ethical. One of the common examples being the combination of business interests with politics and power.

While it is true that the journey of a new entrepreneur in India is not easy, entrepreneurs who start with inherited capital also face a similar challenge of multiplying their wealth, with only the scale of the problem being different. The common theme being, entrepreneurs — new or generational — are focused on the size of their wealth rather than the real work.

We have multiple success stories of great entrepreneurial journeys in India — in most of those successes you would find that there is a single-minded focus to build one institution and not to diversify. Infosys is a prime example — during the long journey of Infosys, the founders after their initial success did not think of multiplying their wealth to start multiple other businesses, which if they wanted, they could have done.

Having worked long number of years as a professional executive, seeing entrepreneurs closely, and now turning to an entrepreneur myself, my learning has been that if your mission is only entering into venture to increase your wealth and feature in the Forbes ranking of rich people, you are bound to falter at some point of time. The mission of an entrepreneur should be to build enterprises which people respect, however, by no means I am saying that one should not try achieving scale, but don’t try doing this for too many things.

God has given us only one life — if you achieve one vision which can create an impact, that should be good enough and there should not be the need to chase too many things at the same time.

While the demise of V.G. Siddhartha is one of the saddest events for Indian entrepreneurs, it is also a warning signal for the established, upcoming and young entrepreneurs — choose a life mission and achieve that — wealth is an outcome of good work and not the other way around.

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