Gaurav Munjal doesn’t mince his words. The co-founder of Unacademy and CEO of Flatchat, may well have earned himself detractors in the Indian startup ecosystem for his brand of brashness, but he justifies it with this quote by Randy Pausch :
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
When Healthntrends asked him to write an article for us revealing the secrets behind the alluring path of entrepreneurship that everyone wants to tread today, he flatly said, “There are no secrets.”
However, when he did send us this article, and with such promptitude we may add, we realised that a lot has to be said about the start-up culture in India that goes beyond the usual reportage. This guest article by Gaurav Munjal is a good beginning, we think.
1: Don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur
In my first year I didn’t know what the word ‘entrepreneur’ meant. When I saw the Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement address for the first time, my eyes welled up. Since that day, I had this voice in my head telling me, ‘This is how I want to be. I want to do what I love.’ And then what, I did just that—I made blogs, wrote short novels, began teaching on YouTube, and made web portals— the works. Entrepreneurship was the byproduct—it was the term that others started giving to people like us, but we were simply doing what we loved and solving problems for ourselves and others. Finding flatmates, good educational content not being available online were the problems I faced and thus I worked towards solving these. Today a lot of people, especially students, think in the direction of becoming an entrepreneur first and doing what they’re good at or what they like becomes secondary. A friend of mine is an awesome guitarist, I always thought he would do something in music, but just because everyone else was doing it, he also started a food delivery startup. He doesn’t what he is doing— he is simply doing it because he wants to be an ‘entrepreneur’—and he is failing at it.
So, don’t be an entrepreneur. Do what you want to do, do what you love to do.
2: Relationships and friendships are equally important, if not more
I have a rule—I work with people I can be friends with. I’m sure most people do. Don’t look at people as potential clients; instead forge a relationship with them that is long lasting. Help them with something they might need and they will help you with your business. Don’t become too professional just because in your head you want to feel that you’re running a company. The reason behind the success of many entrepreneurs today is the relationships they built. Also, don’t neglect your friends—they are the ones who will be there with you when the time is not right, they are the ones who will bring a smile to your face when you want to cry.
So, show gratitude, help people, and build relationships.
3: Don’t stop reading and if you haven’t already, start writing
If there is one thing that is MOST important, not just for an entrepreneur but for everyone, it is READING. To cultivate a reading habit every day is the single most important thing you can do for your mental happiness and stimulation. Books give me insight, they give me characters I can look up to, they tell me the mistakes that have already been made so that I don’t make them and most importantly they teach me how to dream big. Same goes with writing, it helps you put your thoughts forward.
So, what are you waiting for? Read. Write. Now.
4: Stay away from glamour
So what if that startup fired 100 employees or that child CEO gave his stocks to his employees and abused the investors, how does it bother you? How is it going to help you if you’re discussing the same three times a day with different sets of people? Shut the news, stay away from glamour, build your product, and get traction and revenue. Don’t attend too many events; too much socialising is harmful to health.
Like Naveen (a character from TVF Pitchers) says, “Sar jhukao aur kaam karo” (Just work. Period.). That’s what you should do as well!
5: The quantity/quality myth—and why quantity is more important:
I’d like to share a quote from a book I am reading: '…the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the ‘quantity’ group was busily churning out piles of work and learning from their mistakes, the ‘quality’ group had sat theorising about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.'
Too many people wait for the perfect moment, or the perfect product, or the perfect theory or the perfect idea. There was a guy who called me up one day and told me he wants to do an operational startup that will involve going out in the field and talking to a lot of people. But all he did was to sit at home for two months and make a plan on how he will do it. That is bad. Quality will come but you also need to measure your work and tasks by quantity: How much have you achieved this week? How well did you network? How many potential clients did you meet? Work and learn from your mistakes and improve, quality will come.
So, don’t just wait for the perfect product to be ready on paper and then build it.