Today we share a story from The Art and Science of Entrepreneurship by Mr Inderjit. An experience that he had in his past venture that made it clear about passion
“When I joined forces with a group of fresh graduates to start a dot com venture in 1999, I thought I had partnered a group of very enthusiastic young people who believed in what they wanted to do and had the passion to establish what we thought would be a great company. My first impression was that they were very creative in the way they established contact with me to communicate their desire to work with me on a start-up. At that time, I was quite prominently promoting entrepreneurship, which gave me a lot of visibility, so some people sought to make me their partner. Thus, I partnered them and we started a company with some initial ideas we thought would be great winners in the dot com world.
As we began the process, the hard work started, and because it was a tough environment, results were not easily achieved. Each time, when I energised the team to work on some interesting initiatives, I would see initial excitement, but each time, I saw that excitement waning quickly as the hard work did not produce immediate results. This went on a few times, and I started to wonder about the level of passion these people really had for what we were trying to do. Finally, one day, I had a heart-to-heart discussion with them about why they had lost interest and momentum in what we should have been doing quickly. After much discussion, it slipped out of one of them that “we do not feel the pinch because it is not our money.” I was surprised, but I should not have been, because I was paying these guys a good salary at the same time as a good equity position, so they did not feel the pinch. Well, I told them I would immediately solve the pinch problem by cutting their salary by 50 percent until we saw some results.
But the real problem was not just this lack of pinch. It was really about passion. Were these guys in it because they really believed in the idea and really wanted to become entrepreneurs, or was it because it was a fashionable thing to do those days, because of the level of prominence given to young “successful” entrepreneurs. (I will talk about this a little more under the chapter called, “Lessons Learnt During the Dot Com Days”.)
What I quickly realised was that what was missing, in addition to the pinch factor, was this trait of passion. They were in it not because of the passion, but because of the other fanciful reasons. The reality is that if the motivating reasons are other than the passion and the belief in what they are doing, the job becomes very tough as the nitty-gritty of being an entrepreneur results in so much work and requires so much effort and sacrifice that without the passion for it, life can become very tough. As soon as I realised I did not have a passionate team, I decided to either wind down the company or sell it to someone who was more passionate about it. The good news is that I managed to exit from the company in February 2000, just before the dot com crash of April 2000.”
We sometimes pursue things for the wrong reasons. We may be influenced in different ways and perhaps we follow because everyone else is doing it. In next weeks lecture we will talk more about not becoming an Entrepreneur for the wrong reasons.