I have often heard people waiting for the 'great idea' that will change the world. And they feel that until they get this idea, they will not be successful in starting a business. To me, this is the best way to procrastinate about becoming an entrepreneur, as ideas don't create businesses. People do.
I have been a key student of business over the last 15 years (since starting my first one in 1996). And in all the stories that I have read and come across, the only common factor I have seen is people. In fact, I can bet my bottom dollar that most people didn't even have an idea when they started their business, apart from being convinced that they would start a business and being even more convinced that they would succeed.
Let me share my story with you (I have changed a few names to preserve anonymity, but apart from that, EVERY single sentence is true) to tell you how I startedâ Hopefully, it will give you a different perspective on the origins of a business.
1995â 8 pmâ Victoria Hotel in Bangalore (sadly, it doesn't exist anymore).
It was a normal evening, like many other evenings that I had spent as a bachelor in a new city. Slowly, the alcohol was disappearing from the table and one was ordering more (thank god, there was someone else to pay for it). I was thinking to myself, "Bangalore is a nice place."
I had just moved to the city a year ago and had got a job with Wipro.
Prasoon was sitting next to me (he was the one paying the bill). I was amazed at the fact that I was actually having a drink with Prasoon; he and I seemed to have nothing in common. He was around 10 years older than me, a Bangalorean by birth (never left the city even for his post-graduation), came from IIM Bangalore (so we did not even share the same business school) and did NOT work with Wipro (as with most immigrants in large cities, my social circle was an intersection of my business school and my company). So looking at all these yardsticks, he and I should never even have met each other.
We were drinking and talking about life and money. Hmmmâ it was always an exciting thing to chat about. As for me, money was something that was a burning desire and the attainment of the single objective of moving up the value chain was the binding force. The whiskey flowed and the conversation about money reached a fever pitch.
Suddenly, for me, the conversation started to unlock fierce desires for success/fame/power/money (all the dark secrets that are hidden in each of us, I guess) and I myself was surprised at the ferocity of my feelings and the level at which I was pegging my success. It was becoming clearer that there was a desire to become rich and fast. I told Prasoon, "I want to retire at 30 and currently that's all that I can think of!" Prasoon looked at me with some scepticism (he was already 35 at that time and I was 25), but went along with the flow not wanting to stop my dreams.
Then, it all started to flow the desire to be the richest person in the world, the desire to own jets, houses in all the big cities of the world, to have a lifestyle which one reads about in magazines (there was no Discovery Travel and Living at that time). I now forget what number I ended up giving Prasoon, but he tells me now that it was 1, followed by more zeros that he had not heard in some time (in fact, according to Prasoon, the fact that my number 1 was followed by the right number of zeros was the most exciting part of the evening).
That night spurred me on to change the course of my life. At the age of 25, with precisely 15 months of work experience, I decided that I would no longer work for someone else as that would not help me make the kind of money that I wanted to make and that, too, at 30 (only had five years to go). So, a person like me coming from a family steeped in bureaucracy, started a business!
So, did you see something in this story? There is NO mention of an IDEA! I had no IDEA how I would become successful.
Was I impulsive? Sure I was (I was 24 at that time). I did what ANY person does who wants to start a business with NO idea and I started a business in the same area in which I was working.
I had two things going for me.
1. I was sure of myself.
2. I was aware of the first two execution steps in my business that would lead to money.
That was enough to start.
Next time around, when you want to start but feel you DON'T have a compelling idea, think about my story.