Chanakya’s Guide for an Entrepreneur – The StartUp Mantra
I always wanted to be an avid reader but for a couch potato like me it has always been difficult. Like ardent readers learn from their books; we learn from movies, sitcoms, news, contests, commercials and even controversies.
My faith in television was reaffirmed after watching Drishyam (In the movie Drishyam, Ajay Devgn plays an uneducated man who learns so much from television that he saves his family from the dark side of law after they commit an unexpected crime. Like him, even I learn from television.
Simply said, I am like Ajay Devgn but only in real life :-). While growing up, I was particularly a fan of Horror and History. I guess I must have watched everything in these genres. While watching one of these programs, I came across Chanakya and his Arthashashtra.
For simplicity sake, Chanakya was a common man who helped another common man (Chandragupt Maurya) to become the King of most of India. It fascinated me, how a feat like this was achieved with the power of arthashashtra.
I was shocked and amazed when I saw on television that Chanakya used to serve Chandragupt with a small quantity of poison every day. His rationale behind this action was that regular consumption of poison in viable quantity will help Chandragupt develop immunity against poison.
I realised Chanakya Neeti gives a direction, a clarity which helps a person to think through and act. On this journey of being an entrepreneur, Arthashashtra viz. Chanakya Neeti can be a catalyst which may help me and also help others to actualise their goals.
So finally, I took to reading about Chanakya Neeti and here are a few ones which are very relevant for an entrepreneur. I have also tried to use examples from today’s days startups to facilitate clear understanding.
Opportunities always exist for an Intelligent Person – We generally say ‘Opportunities don’t knock twice’, but an intelligent person creates opportunities for himself. We all witnessed the success of Housing.com when there were other eminent players in the market including 99acres, Magikbricks & commonfloor. This success validates Chanakya’s mention of unlimited opportunities for the wise. To ensure one never misses any opportunity, one should focus on these areas in life
- Clarity about objective in Life
- Influencers – Both internal and social
Wear qualities and not rigidity – In one of his teachings, Chanakya has mentioned “चन्दनानपि दावोऽग्निर्दहत्येव।”. It means that the forest fire destroys everything, even trees like Sandalwoods. These words signify that even people with great potential and capabilities are compromised due to external environment. We should never be averse to change. The sandalwood tree has many qualities but is rigid like any other tree. Hence it cannot safeguard itself in a forest fire.
Entrepreneurs should be like Sandalwood tree in qualities but shouldn’t be rigid. They should change when there is a need to change. Always prefer wisdom over ego. Be firm like a tree and flexible like a creeper. We have seen enough instances where founders change/modify their product.
Flipkart initially was a book vendor, Snapdeal was once a daily deals platform, and relatively a very new startup – Nifler, also changed its positioning only to be better. A founder once mentioned “It is important to love your ideology but not your idea because ideas evolve”.
Rigidity causes things to break. Stand firm but not rigid. Lets not do it tomorrow – Only the Lazy procrastinates. For the Lazy, Chanakya mentions “न भृत्यान प्रेषयति” which means that a lazy person fails to command. Being lazy not only restricts your ability to grow but also deprives you of what you desire.
Having a mission is not enough; working towards it in a timely manner is what makes the difference. In this startup bandwagon everyone is running to grab a share of investors.
Investors’ funds can help them make a difference. Ideas are hardly unique; pace is what matters. Time is one luxury startup founders can most definitely not afford. Taxi4sure was a late entrant but established itself despite other players being there.
However, it could not procure funds just once from the investors and was hence sold to OLA. Reiterating myself, time isn’t a luxury that we have. Tips to overcome laziness
- Bad health fosters laziness. So eat cautiously, workout daily and sleep timely.
- When in monotony, add interest to your work or add yourself to interesting work.
Keep motivating yourself, as Entrepreneurs achieve ‘difficult-to-think’ goals. !!Procrastinate procrastination!! No PDA (Public Display of Anger) – In the words of Chanakya “संसदी शत्रु न परिक्रोशेत्” As a founder, one should always come across as a stable and reliable person. It is not only important for one’s effective decision making but also helps you command respect before your colleagues.
PDA gives away your intentions, alerts your opponent, and makes you vulnerable for counter-attacks. In light of modern times, we can consider Rahul’s (ex-CEO of Housing.com) PDA for investors which ultimately led to his ouster from the board of the company he started. Some might want to argue that now Rahul is a youth-icon but the problem lies in the aftermath.
In a startup, investors invest more in the founders than the idea (at least initially). Rahul might be capable of creating another product and grow 100x as promised, but without investors it will be difficult. Now, investors will not only think about the idea and its feasibility but also the attitude problem of Rahul Yadav. Planning a venture of my own, I understand the passion of Rahul but what I never forget and will urge readers to not forget is how crucial investors are to give our passion a desirable scale. Things don’t always happen as desired.
But, losing our temper publically reflects acceptance of defeat. A planned display of anger is strategic. Politicians use it, we can too. But anger should be in our control and never a result of dismay and disappointment. Today was my last working day in office. Every day during my notice period, I was trying to prepare myself for this leap of faith (my venture).
I realized the need of a mentor who can help me be disciplined, who gives me enough clarity and who guides me in this journey. I desired a ‘chanakya’ for myself who can help me in my endeavors.
We might not have a Chanakya for ourselves but his words shall forever be our guide.