In Search of Entrepreneurial DNA
“This is looking great! Anything special today?” Arunaben asked. Babulal was looking in the mirror and was checking whether the coat suited him. He became a little awkward with Arunaben’s question. He looked at Arunaben to gauge her reaction.
“You’re looking good!”
He felt good and relieved with her comment.
“I had told you a few days back that I will be going to deliver a lecture to college students. That lecture is today….” Babulal reminded her.
“Here the coat seems a bit wrinkled. I’ll iron it fast,” she replies. As Babulal was getting late, he was not very happy with her suggestion. But the wrinkled coat looked quite shabby. So Babulal handed over the coat to Arunaben without any argument.
“Shamal and Viral always find out new tasks for me. Their batchmate is now the principal of an MBA college. He wants me to deliver a lecture on entrepreneurship for his students,” said Babulal.
“Anyhow you always like preaching!” He laughed wholeheartedly on her taunt.
“I like to make people entrepreneurs… and so I love to deliver lectures on that topic. Besides people listen to them happily. And I am getting paid for this work. I know that thing is more important for you,” Babulal said bit complainingly.
Arunaben used to keep Babulal’s accounts as he was not prudent in the money matters. But Arunaben would never give up!
“You earn the money because of me, otherwise people would have cheated you due to this timid nature… remember those days?”
Babulal made a sorry face.
“Sorry! I forgot what an angry young woman you used to be!!!” He exclaimed. In those days, if someone delays the payment, Arunaben used to call him and lashed the person. After a while, she started maintaining a proper record of all the accounts. The way Arunaben recovered the payments made Babulal prompt. He also started to ask for the due payments without any hesitance.
“Mr Babulal, do work with only those people who value your advice. Do you remember, I said this to you then?”
Babulal agreed to her, put on the coat, popped a freshener in his mouth.
“And please don’t go by an auto-rickshaw today… People wearing a coat usually travel in a taxi.” After listening to her final suggestion, he laughed wholeheartedly. He called for the taxi as he approached the entrance of the society.
When I started consulting it was always free of cost. Indeed, one should not advise until it is asked for. But during those days small or mid-size industries were not used to pay for the consultancy. The advice used to be considered as friendly favour in those days. A cup of tea or snack would be offered as a gesture of acknowledgement. Or gifting a box of sweets during Diwali was a generous gesture. Babulal tried very hard to change this situation. He could succeed only because of Arunaben’s support. After the dark gloomy night, finally, a new sun appeared on the horizon. This feeling lingered on Babulal’s mind.
And now I am going to deliver a lecture at a prestigious MBA college. This is one of the happiest moment of my life. My son, Viral had a good education, and was gaining a good reputation abroad; still, he feels that I have a knack and knowledge to create new entrepreneurs.
Till date, I have helped many people to become entrepreneurs. Some were successful; some failed and opted for a job again. Some industrialists are quite successful while some are still struggling. What was my role in their lives? Is entrepreneurship innate or one can learn it with efforts? Who decides the success in the business? People? Society? Market? Or destiny? Today thousands of youth want to become an entrepreneur. What society does to strengthen the inner urge? There is no relation between the degree in engineering and being an engineer. As engineering is a mindset, so is the case with entrepreneurship. Anyone can call himself an entrepreneur. But it is a mindset, nature, an attitude. And to find it, I keep on searching, communicating… The purpose of my visit to this college today is the same. Who knows, I may find a handful of gems… Babulal started preparing his speech with these thoughts. He started jotting the points in his pocketbook.
Babulal stopped writing as he found all these points too bookish. As he reviewed them, he realized that he had written characteristics of an entrepreneur; but the characteristics are quite different than a real entrepreneur. These are all visible qualities. The real entrepreneurship lies in one’s inner self. His responses to mind, brain, his thoughts, his feelings, self-actualisation, crisis-challenges-depression, success, failure, the high rise, the failures……if we get to know many more such things, then only the DNA of an entrepreneur can be revealed. What makes an entrepreneur?
Don’t step into the darkness, something dangerous must be there- even after frightening a child this way, it always leaps towards the darkness. It may be out of curiosity or adventure, or even for the sake of meeting the dangerous one. Or maybe she does not believe in any such nonsense. Or maybe she feels that there are many fun-filled things in that mysterious darkness –.
What it is? Is it not independent thinking?
Gaining freedom is the basic inspiration for a human being. Freedom of an entrepreneur doesn’t lie only in the self-expression. He tries to live on his terms, even a little stubbornly. He seeks time, money, niche, dreams, passions, self-perceptions, lifestyle, creativity. Though the path is difficult, dark, and unknown, he wants to travel on the untrodden path instead of a well-planned, easy-going life. In future, many entrepreneurs may follow him and then even surpass him with the backing of money and experience. They may even take over his business. Still, like Vasco Da Gama he continues with his journey as if possessed by a demon.
Why he is not smart, astute, profit-oriented like a trader?
Why he doesn’t go for every opportunity which can earn him money?
Why can’t the new entrepreneurs remain neutral to all matters except about earning a profit like a businessman?
In short, some industrialists have their dreams so big, that they cannot remain grounded. Where this romanticism come from? Why do many start-ups have to close down after leaping/while leaping/even before leaping?
Babulal could not stop thinking over it…
Is there anyone who doesn’t like freedom?
I am the boss myself… this feeling is very assuring. When an entrepreneur fantasizes about entrepreneurship, the most prominent thought in his mind is that of being a boss of his small empire.
Many people feel that employment is slavery. They get suffocated being an employee. Bosses always like the people who are dumb and are ready to become his yes men.
‘I was never born to be an employee…’ many people keep on boasting.
How do they develop such a large ego?
How can you prove your greatness by criticising that employees are of a smaller stature? In the beginning, many great industrialists had to serve someone else.
Babulal mumbled, “Try to grow in such a way that you become superior to your employer. Then there remains only one way. Starting your own business! Only it can provide you with a new sky to fly.”
The driver of the cab slowed the vehicle and asked him, “Did you ask anything to me, sir?”
Babulal asked him, “Is this your own vehicle or somebody else is owns it?” Now the driver got confused.
“Didn’t you like my driving, sir?” He asked in a worried voice.
“Not at all… I wanted to ask you whether this is your own vehicle, or you are an employed driver on someone else’s cab?” Babulal explained.
“This is my own vehicle, sir… I am in the same business for the last fifteen years.” He said.
“So, you never worked for anyone else in your life?” Babulal asked surprisingly.
“I worked as an employee for five-six years… but the used to be a lot of work pressure. I used to work as a driver for ATM cash van. You must have seen that big black van supplying cash to Automated Teller Machines?” He asked.
Babulal nodded affirmatively.
“There used to be a lot of work pressure, as every day I had to carry crores of rupees. I was driving the vehicle very carefully always delivering the cash on time. I could not halt in between as there was a constant fear of getting robbed. I used to be cautious all the time. I used to fear that, if something goes wrong, being the driver, the police may catch me and will throw behind the bars for at least two days to interrogate…” He felt the same fear again while narrating his past.
“Then what happened next?” Babulal asked out of curiosity.
“Then my friends informed me that I could apply for the permit of a taxi. I leapt at this opportunity… At present, I own three vehicles. I have provided two taxies to a call centre on a rental basis.” He said.
“So you are your own boss with three vehicles… Too good!” Babulal said.
“There is nothing good in this business, sir… I am always stressed about the EMI of three vehicles, their maintenance, garage visits, problems with RTO officials, parking, leaves of the drivers, their overtime, toll payment, customer complaints, Diwali gifts for call centre managers, increasing prices of fuel, repair costs incurred due to bad roads… the list is endless. This led to blood pressure and the monthly expense is increased even more.” Babulal listened attentively as the driver was emptying the bottom of his heart.
“So, you feel employment is a better option than owning a business?” Babulal asked.
“The grass is always green on the other side… Now I feel, there are fewer tensions in employment. Some of my friends are still driving those cash vans. Now they get PF, medical reimbursement, insurance, loan. They even got a rise in the salary due to their seniority… and until now not a single cash van got robbed!” The driver said with a smile on his face. “During those days I used to feel business was a better thing. Now I feel, employment is better. According to you what is right, sir?”
After listening to this question, Babulal kept mum for a few seconds.
“Where the heart feels happy… that is the best place for you,” Babulal said.
He got engrossed in deep thoughts as he started to ponder over this.
The driver continued, “Now should I tell you the truth? There are many problems… But owning your vehicle is the best. Let the people criticize about owning the business… But it gives you a feeling of belongingness. And above all… this is where my heart feels happy… as you said.” The driver patted the steering affectionately.
Babulal reached the destination.
“Do you teach here?” the driver asked.
“No,” Babulal couldn’t refrain himself from laughing.
“Then what do you do here?” The driver asked innocently.
“I work on the things here which make my heart happy in” While saying this Babulal got down the car. Now Babulal’s speech had got a new direction due to the journey with the taxi and its driver.
Originally Published in Yashashwi Udyojak. Subscribe Today.