Call of the Entrepreneur

Most of us dream about having a small business or putting our creative juices to work. As we spend more time in the corporate environment, this call becomes stronger. I’m amazed at how some individuals shun the respect and security of a well paying job and risk everything to start their own venture.

Such venture is usually based on an idea or the interests/hobbies that we hold dear to our heart. We become so convinced and motivated that we can foresee it becoming a reality.

The day I landed in the US, I have been often advised to start something of my own or asked to join a startup. I usually avoided the conversation or had to politely decline as I thought it to be a bad idea to get into business with good friends. It takes a great deal of understanding and sacrifice for the partnership to be successful when you join hands with close friends.

But finally the entrepreneur bug caught up with me. It was around the same time when I decided not to pursue MBA. I thought of experimenting with starting and building a business instead. The idea was to build a business and eventually sell it off. The ideal timeframe was of 5 years, but would wait for few more years if needed.

We chose to cater to the healthcare sector primarily as it is one sector that is always in demand. Brinda’s pharmacy background coupled with family contacts in the industry would prove to be a boon. We registered the business under Brinda so that we could benefit from being a Minority/Women enterprise. I took care of the technology and vendor management aspects.

How did it go?

We didn’t face any issue with the setup, infrastructure and vendor management side of things but the business was extremely slow in the beginning. We kept our fulltime jobs and used to put in whatever the time we were left with in this new business venture. We still managed to get Saatchi and Saatchi, NY and a few other renowned tri-state doctors as our clients within the first year.

It was obvious that we needed more resources on the sales side. Since both of us were making relatively decent money, it didn’t make sense for any of us to quit our fulltime jobs. So we partnered with some contacts in the industry but getting  a meaningful chunk of business seemed very difficult.

It was time to reevaluate: Should we continue to put our efforts in it or refocus our energies on something else? Though the answer took a while but it did come in. It was around the same time that our initial investments in Indian Real Estate had started to pay off. I figured if we just remained in our fulltime jobs and continued to invest in real estate for the next five years, we would be able to gain Financial Freedom. This alternative seemed practical and feasible and it would also allow us to have more quality time with each other.

The whole idea of starting and building a business (for us) was to eventually sell it off to gain Financial Freedom. So we killed it in time and focused on the alternative instead which eventually proved to be a better path for our original goal of becoming financially free.

So was the whole exercise a waste of time?

Absolutely not!! We met great people and gained insight to many aspects of running a business without paying heavy price. This experience can very well be used in other aspects of life and in future ventures.

In case you’re also thinking of starting a business of your own, do take a note of some points that are important for any business:

  • Owning a business is lot harder than it appears to be. Be prepared to slog, at least for few years. Not just six months or a year as I thought it to be :-), that might mean no vacations, least family time etc.
  • The returns are very slow in the beginning and it usually takes years before you see a reasonable monetary gain
  • Test the waters first with little or no capital…if possible. Quit your daytime job only when the idea has taken firm ground and you’re able to see the desired returns
  • Don’t get hung up on it for too long if the idea is not working out as planned. Do evaluate the progress shrewdly in financial terms, especially if you’re  a well paying professional.

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