“There are three qualities that make someone a true professional. These are the ability to work unsupervised, the ability to certify the completion of a job or task and, finally, the ability to behave with integrity at all times.”
Subroto Bagchi’s quote on what it takes to be a professional is applicable to being an entrepreneur as well. There is not a moment of boredom as an entrepreneur because either I am learning something new or working towards racing ahead with the business. Entrepreneurship gives me the freedom to create an organization with values I believe in, it empowers me to build a culture that is sustainable. Since my business is connected to the travel industry, my work takes me to the mountains and introduces me to amazing travellers from around the world.
The role is not a leisurely walk in the woods though. It is more like running a triathlon. In my days as an entrepreneur, there are challenges that I come across on a daily basis.
1) Work on the mind 24 x 7
Most entrepreneurs work on their business idea out of passion for what they are building. This keen interest blurs the line between work and play. It is natural to make connections that will help the business while watching a movie, brunch with friends, a morning jog, the service during a pedicure or even on a Sunday! This is how I worked in the first 3 years, till I realised that it was only counterproductive in the long run.
Professionals who take compulsory breaks at regular intervals are able to get more work done, in less time, because of the power of a relaxed mind and body
– Subroto Bagchi
Hacking the challenge: A disciplined approach
While it is natural to think about ways to build the business outside of office hours, switching off from work for few hours every day helps increase efficiency tremendously. Pursuing an interest with a friend helps disconnect from work. Eg: I continue to pursue my hobby of writing postcards and letters to my penfriends. Each time I receive a letter, I have to reply back. This helps me learn about another country and also slow down while penning my thoughts.
Fitness is a priority that I will not trade for anything. Just like there is commitment to work, commitment towards fitness routine ensures I schedule meetings early in the day and leave office on time.
Experts in the industry opine that what we do between 5p.m. to 9p.m. determines how much we will progress in our 9a.m. to 5p.m.
2) You know the answer, but you don’t have to know it always
As an entrepreneur, building a team is one of the most crucial tasks. Training them so as to achieve the vision chalked out for the business is important. During the training phase, it is important to hand hold, yet not spoon feed. Recently, the BD associate was working on an offer for customers of a mobile phone service provider. The company required the offer to be valid for 3 months which would overlap with the end of season sale. This would result in the users of the mobile phone company getting a double discount. The associate asked me what should be done. Instead of giving her the answer based on previous alliances we have entered into, I questioned her as to what was her goal behind running the offer? What did she want to achieve? How that could be achieved without impacting the end of season sale? She revisited the canvas and came up with a well thought out solution.
This gave her the confidence that she can think out of the box and come up with solutions by herself.
Hacking the challenge: Ask questions and listen more
It is natural to want to express my opinion and tell the team what to do. In the short term, it saves time. In the long run, they haven’t learnt how to think for themselves and take a task to its completion. Therefore, when I am asked for a solution, I think about it and ask them questions that direct them to the solution rather than give the answer right away.
Listening to their answers gives me fresh perspective, teaches me something new and most importantly, enables them to think independently.
3) Making decisions
If I was asked to describe my day in two words, they would be making decisions! From big decisions like which space to finalise for the new office, selecting between debt or equity to raise funds to smaller decisions like the number of visiting cards to be printed; they are part of a day’s work.
Senior professionals who are productive and get things done on a sustained basis do four things particularly well. They get briefed, theyseek help, they use commute time effectively and they periodically take a mental shutdown
– Subroto Bagchi
Hacking the challenge: Having absolute clarity in goal
It is tough at times having to make multiple decisions across functions in a day. Every time I am clear about what I want to achieve in that particular department, the decision making becomes easy. Eg: My goal is to consume consciously. Therefore when asked about the number of cards to be printed, my decision is based on the number of cards required.
With respect to deciding the new office space, the clarity with respect to location, budget and size required helped in making a choice.
4) Balance between the macro view and micro view
As entrepreneurs, we want to change the world with our business idea. I want to be part of the lives of more than 100 million people who engage and interact with my brand. While I have this larger vision, it is important for me to ensure amazing customer service when clients visit the store. It is important to ensure clients are given the products based on the temperature and place of travel. It is important to ensure the team is being trained regularly and is up to date with current product information. Therefore, while having the bird’s eye view of the business, it is important to work at the ground level as well.
Hacking the challenge: Meditate
It is humanly impossible to be in two places at one time. The transition to look at macro picture while working on the micro level is not easy. This is where meditation helps immensely. A simple practice of sitting in silence or focusing on your breath for some time every dayhelps connect the inside and the outside. This in turn helps balance the focus on the larger picture and the day to day routine.
5) Letting go
I believe the true success of a business is when it exists for generations after the founder is no more. The founder set up the attributes and product that consumers are attracted to. The founder set up a team that understood and shared the vision to take the business forward on the same values laid down. Being deeply involved in building the business, it is difficult to let go. Sometimes, I look too closely at the canvas and then the picture gets blurred. There are instances when a problem seems too large to handle. My tendency is to get stressed about something that is beyond my control.
It is important that each one of us pushes our limits and operates outsides our known boundaries so that we explore new possibilities
– Subroto Bagchi
Hacking the challenge: Let go
There is a larger force at play at every stage of our lives. It is important to acknowledge the force and let go after having done one’s best. Holding on to the tree saying that the tree is not leaving me doesn’t help anyone.
Invariably I am guided to the solution when I let go. This does not mean that I don’t try. I continue to seek solutions, reach out to experts when a problem seems unnecessarily large. Eventually, I am guided with the correct approach to be taken.
I have stated the challenges faced in the last 6 years as well as how I deal with it. I am still a student, learning how to play the role better and better.