Saturday, 5 December 2009

Entrepreneurship in every Indian's blood... I am an Indian too...

As I plan to step out of the regular respected white collared job of a banker, I am absolutely undecided about the next step I would take in this life. Over the past 22 years, I have been doing whatever I wish to do. And suddenly, this idea of working as per someone else's rules and requirements is something I am unable to adapt to. Jobs are a plenty. I do keep getting offers to join other companies that would pay me sufficiently to lead life and contribute to my family as well. But happiness and satisfaction are two elements that I can never get. If I have a fantastic family, I could be happy. But no family can be so fantastic as life is not a decided journey. You never know what can happen when. And thus, amidst all uncertainties, no one can certify you of a happy or successful life. Life is full of twists and turns. If there is something certain in life, its change and death. A meaningful life would mean an adaptation to these changes by tackling them effectively till death. On thinking almost all the time to do something in life that can add value to self, family and the world at large, I have been getting numerous ideas. But the most important requirement for every plan to be executed is money. I dont understand how and why this element has got so much importance on the earth that every matter ultimately takes us to it. Every effort to simplify this life only adds more complications to it. I don't really understand why life is such a painful journey. Perhaps, the ISKCON preaches the right point that we are all sinners thrown on earth to be punished for not following God's orders. And I have been thinking all the time as to what is God's order to me. Why has he sent me here? Whats the purpose of my existence? They say, every person has an objective to achieve in this world. And once the objective is achieved, the person is taken back to God's world. People on earth never learn quick. That's perhaps one reason why we live for 70-80 years till we realize our objective. Thanks to education and literacy initiatives that has made us more understanding and made achieving our objectives much quickly and thereby reducing the average life span to 50-60 years these days. I believe, this would keep decreasing the same way till it reaches 0-10 and one fine day, humans would become extinct. Oh, sorry, I am out of topic yet again. This, in fact, is the biggest advantage of blog (rather than essay writing) that you dont need to use the backspace button to delete the unwanted things written. You could just keep saying blah blah and blah. Lets get back to some sense

Entrepreneur is a french word that refers to someone who takes up an endeavor. The world is full of entrepreneurs. In fact, I believe, we might have more entrepreneurs than job going persons. An entrepreneur takes risks directly to earn income to lead life. The commonest example that Mr. Narayan Murthy of Infosys refers to is of the Kiranawallahs or Panwallahs. They buy goods and place them in their shops. They face huge uncertainty on whether these goods would be sold or not. Their life depends on the sale. More the sale, more the income. The sale is dependent on demand. Demand is dependent on need/desire. No income is assured anywhere. Yet, life moves on

Take an example of an auto driver. My observation on these people has been very huge. Specially, from the day I have moved in to Hyderabad, they have caught my attention. The road from Jubilee Hills to Kondapur is around 8 kms and you need to pay just Rs 8 to travel in the auto. Of course, its a shared auto which would be occupied by another 4-5 companions. Assuming that all the 5 passengers move from Jubilee Hills to Kondapur, the auto driver earns Rs 40 which might be loss making figure for him. However, there are passengers who get down in between and passengers who get into the auto on the way. The charges are all predefined. The minimum charge is Rs 5. Suppose I board from Jubilee Hills to my home, I pay Rs 6. Another passenger boards it up to HiTec city, he pays Rs 5. Mind you, the number of people boarding auto on this road is quite high. There should be no difficulty for the auto driver to get passenger. And further, another passenger gets in at HiTec City to go up to Kondapur. He pays Rs 5 and thus, the total income for this seat would be Rs 6 + Rs 5 + Rs 5, ie, Rs 16. His profitability has shot up by 100%. Thus, he makes profit. Now, lets come to a typical situation where he either does not get sufficient passengers or he gets 5 passengers who will directly go to Kondapur. He suffers a loss. The auto driver does around 10-15 rounds on this route each day and each round gives him a totally different level of income. While he might earn ZERO on one round, he could easily make Rs 100 on another round. All income earned throughout the day less the cost of petrol would be his income for the day. If the cost of petrol itself is higher, he has made a loss. Imagine the amount of risk involved. The total family is dependent on this income. How will he pay his home rent? How will he pay his son's school fee? How will he manage for the ration? Theoretically, positive thinking says, it might be possible and practically, it is NOT possible. But, the answer that the auto drivers have given me is YES. He does. He even goes for a 'Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai' with his wife. This was about this one route. The similar is the case with drivers across the country. They just take their vehicle and move on the road. They are blessed if someone boards their vehicle for a fee. If not, good luck for tomorrow. Yet, these thousands of people DO survive. They do live at least a near to comfortable life where they can take care of their needs as well as their families'. Some people who have received sound financial advise also have good savings for the future. I always keep chit chatting to these people when I travel. I have seen people who have been driving for 20 years, people who have purchased more autos and rent them and now, live on the rent, people who have not earned well and are into debts, people who are well educated and due to unemployment, have started driving autos. The auto industry has given life to a very good number of people and is certainly praiseworthy. One can learn a lot about business and entrepreneurship from these people. I definitely did learn risk taking

Risk taking is so true in case of the pan beedi wallahs. They sell something which has words written on it in bold (Injurious to health) which makes it unsuitable for selling. Yet, they do survive. They also have families and they do meet their needs

Take a look at a book vendor. Be it the smallest neighborhood shop that sells pencils and rubbers (for that matter, lets call it erasers because rubber mean something else in some cultures) or be it a biggie like Landmark, whats the assurance that books will be written and most importantly, whats the assurance that they will be purchased. How big risks do these people take by buying items worth more than they could ever afford, pay sky high rents for the premises, pay salaries to the workers without any assurance that this would yield them a sale or a profit. If you go to a market, there would be a lane of sweet shops. Whats the assurance that people will buy sweets and most importantly, whats the guarantee that they will buy it from your shop only? Yet, all these sweet shops survive. They have been in business from years and have been expanding their reach by opening new branches. Simplest examples like Mishra sweets, Bhagwan sweets, Keshav Reddy sweets are a live case to study and learn. The book sellers too survive. The purchases do happen and they do get profits. An author sacrifices such a long time and devotes himself to writing. Whats the guarantee that he will be read? Is there something that can assure him an income by writing books? If so, I would be the world's largest book writer (Kidding)

All shopkeepers face the same case. And count them. One-Ten in every locality multiplied by the number of localities multiplied by the number of cities multiplied by the number of states multiplied by the number of nations. That would give you a figure that can make you stand still for a good number of minutes

Then, why do we get afraid of taking up entrepreneurial options? Aren't we born entrepreneurs? We take risks from the day one of life but as we move on towards the latter years, fear starts gripping in and we tend to avoid risks and responsibilities. Saving Face becomes one of the most essential aspect of life. Many people turn down ideas, thoughts, leadership plans, initiatives, etc just to ensure that the society doesn't mock them in case of failure. I am one amongst thousands of such Indians. My grandfather was a doctor. A doctor gets income from patients. If the world is hale and healthy, the doctors will be the poorest class of people. It will be like a blue collared labor job like that of a mechanic. However, doctors make millions and thus, are treated like successful persons. Of course, education difference is always there but historically, its income that has laid a line of difference. Assume that all bachelors of engineering students in Mechanical or Automobile Engineering start up their own garages and charge us a bang for repairs and servicing. For example, Rs 100 for a tyre puncture (Oops, the word 'tyre puncture' has been the most confusing word I have ever heard in the automobile industry. It leaves me guessing whether these shops which title themselves as 'tyre puncture' shops heal the punctures or cause it. The title at least says that they are experts in puncturing tyre). Their incomes would shoot up. They would own a bungalow, car and of course, a pretty wife. If a generation of people does this, I bet, the next generation would call this as a lucrative career and these mechanics would move up the ladder calling themselves as 'Professionals' rather than 'Self employed'. That's perhaps how doctors have made it to a white collared career

I find auto driving in Madhapur or jalebi selling in Madhapur more lucrative than my current job. But if I express this before anyone and plan to take up this, I would lose my face. Will I be ever able to answer those people who ask me 'what are you doing?'. My parents too would not have a face. I would cut the nose of everyone related to me. If I say that I wish to take up insurance sales as a career, people would comment that I am a good for nothing fellow and finally doing this to earn daily bread and butter. Why do we Indians think so much about people? Why do we have to save our faces before the whole world? Why has it become an order to be answerable to large kith and kin that was reproduced by our forefathers (and foremothers, of course). Just let us do what we want to and do not poke your noses in our business. We never did

Coming to another big reason why I want to take up entrepreneurship. TIME. Yes, that's what I need. I need time to do a lot of things that I plan to do in my life. Being in a job, I would be struck to wash someone's ass for a good 10 hours, wash mine for 2-3 hours and spend the remaining time to give rest to the heavily stressed body and mind (Of course, heart. These days, the heart has been on the receiving end more than the brain or the body). Ever imagined how many hotels are in this world, how many vacation packages do all these and the tourism sector gives, how many nations are there on the earth, how many places are titled as 'a must see' in lifetime, how many movies have we produced in the past century and so on. When will I see all this? There are so many books to read, places to see, movies to watch, arts to learn, hobbies to enjoy, skills to incorporate and so on. I have a deep desire to do all that I can possibly do in the rest of my life. How much can be done considering that I am almost through with half of my living days? The biggest hurdle that stands in between me and these goals is money. Yes, you are right. Everything in this world takes us one single problem with the mankind, ie, money. Only God knows who did this mistake of creating money and made man greedy. All sufferings of man began with the discovery of this thing called money. Ever since then, life has been a misery. Plus, more than this all, I have many social obligations. I tend to have a sense of belonging to this place and I seriously want to do my bit to the nation and the world at large. Education is one option that I would love to consider as my social responsibility

The dream to being an entrepreneur seems quite big. And for people like me who do more talking than doing (Of course I do, but I talk as well). Have you seen a chaiwallah who is more than 30 years of age? Possibly yes but the number is quite less. Is it that people aged more than 30 do not like the career of selling tea. Or is it that they have made enough profits in the age of 20-30, selling tea worth 80 ps for Rs 4, which can easily help them sustain their future existence

Think over it, I will be back with more on that (when my mind scrolls on that topic again)

Social entrepreneurship is one area that I have been keenly interested in over the past few years. I will be giving this too a serious consideration

For the moment, I believe, my wings can stretch over the existing areas of my expertise, namely the fields of insurance, mutual funds, stocks and broking. I can also review the area of general insurance if need be. Life insurance must be one serious area of action in the coming days. Of course, to balance this huge risk that I might be facing, I need to continue education. Professional study might again appear as the option here but the difficulty involved is quite high and it would remain more a dream than a possibility

Its said, for pisceans, God has planned everything. Irrespective of whatever we plan, its only God's plan that is in execution. Even now, if I am writing this post, I am sure that the God has some plan behind this. We only need to wait and watch the plan. How far will I go ahead as an entrepreneur or will I ever be one is all something to watch in the coming days

Would something happen or these dreams of an Indian entrepreneur end as dreams just like the thousands of people like me

1 comment:

  1. @Flowers Blossom... So do words... AKA Rahul Joshi
    A million thanks, firstly, for having gone through things in such acute detail. I mean, I never thought someone would have time to read all the crap that I write to relieve myself of pressure and move on in life
    Thanks for the words of advice, not just now, that have been flowing ever since 1997
    Of course, do discuss the plans with me. I have a lot many plans which more in the stage of distant dream now. Once, if I at least go near to making things happen, I can share it with you