Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. Unknown paths. Unknown dangers. Unknown enemies. Only thing that guides you is your own vision and dreams. And at times, that too gets blurred and you feel totally lost – right in the middle of the jungle.
How do entrepreneurs cope with such scenarios in their lives?
In one of my previous article, I have mentioned about resilience, the capability of human beings to overcome any tough scenarios. But in reality, we are all human beings with emotions, vulnerabilities, frustrations and angers, right? And entrepreneurs are no different.
One fine morning, I felt very down, looking at the hurdles and challenges that I am facing in my entrepreneurship. I then thought of asking a few entrepreneurs how they feel when they face failures /hurdles in their journey. So, I posted the following question in one of my whatsapp group of entrepreneurs and opened up a small discussion. I made the question into a little specific scenario so that they can relate to the emotions more.
I asked, “How do you feel when you see a competitor in business who is better than you? If you have put in lot of effort over something and one fine morning you see a competitor with big pockets and better resources, how do you feel?”
The first one to answer was Ms. Jeemol, who runs a food and baking business. She said, “Dhaane dhaane pey likha hain, khaano waalon kaa naam.. There is enough for all of us and we just need to put in sincere efforts and the result will follow. Also, I feel this is the right way to approach competition because it keeps you at a peaceful and happy mind set which is more important than monetary returns.”
Ms. Geophy Mathews, an Image Consultant commented that,” As a normal human being, one would definitely feel a bit worried in such a scenario. It’s your mental maturity level that would help you to control that jealousy and prevent you from acting stupid. Placing myself in that position, honestly speaking, I would feel a bit frustrated and unenthusiastic. I would definitely need someone to console and motivate me in such a situation. Some good guidance would definitely help rise again and win.”
So, as the women looked at the question emotional, Mr. Jayan Vennikkal who is a Branding consultant and runs Bigg Brand Thought, came with a more logical view point. “Spending time to study competitors is good but following competitors is not good for better business. Instead we should focus on how we can serve our customers better.”
Mr. Lemuel John (Owner, Celestial Havens) added to it saying that, “Will go for some self analysis to find where I went wrong. Since I am confident about my product and service, will try to find out in which area I failed. It can be right and safe packaging, marketing, follow up and follow through etc. When I realise that I am succumbing to analysis paralysis will throw my ego and turn the mode to teachability – watch & listen to available experts advises.”
After this came, Ms. Sajitha Rasheed, who runs a Training and Coaching business, MindMojo (where the above scenario is quite relevant!). She said, “I firmly believe that there are certain things only I can give with my intelligence, passion, creativity, experience, education, personality that cannot be replicated. If replicated, it will carry that particular person’s signature which will be very different from my mine, in essence. And the world does need what I have to offer. And also it will need what another person has to offer. Which I won’t be able to replicate in their essence. So like Jeemol said, every grain has a name written on it. How do I feel if someone went ahead with my idea? I’ll frown for 5 min and then remember that –I can only offer what I have. And then get on with my life.”
Ms. Sreedevi (CEO of Processhub) added to Sajitha by stating that she will focus on re-skilling herself and her team. and her team. She said, “First thought that comes to me is, Ah! there is one more person…hmm…then I’ll be like so the market is definitely there.. and as Jayan said it’s good to see how competitors approach clients but I never tried to do that..I focus on what me and my team provides, and focus on the skill enhancement of me and my team, and on quality improvements for sure and also focus on the bigger picture and opportunities. What’s meant to be ours will be there. No one can claim that. If at all someone does, then it was not ours. Will not let competition affect mine or my team’s performance negatively.”
Well, the above statements reflect the entrepreneurial tenacity in our entrepreneurs. A successful entrepreneur is someone who takes responsibility of their actions and look at what can be done at their end than blaming their surroundings. But still, I wanted to know if our entrepreneurs actually feel blues when they face failures. So, I shared my viewpoint in a candid manner. I said, “Practically, I really feel pissed off, frustrated, jealous, irritated, feel like a failure and all kinds of negative emotions consumes me. It takes some time to get over it. I would also keep away from people for some time until I get over these negative emotions. I also talk to my close friends and vent out. After all, we are all human beings right? “
On this note, I got Mr.Rajiv Ambat, who runs a health and fitness start up named Nuvo Vivo open up his heart. He said, “I literally sit and crib about it for a few days. I have felt very jealous, angry and disappointed. In 2018, for nearly 9 months, I stopped praying to God or going to temples. Because I was like, in spite of my hard work and effort, God seem to favour some other random moron who does not understand even the basics of health and fitness! I have sulked in it for long and long. But after sometime, I realise that it is affecting me and is not helping me progress. So I leave it aside and I start reading again… and learning again. And go to gym and vent out my anger there!”
Mr.Santhosh chipped in and added that,” Business Ideas are always stolen. Many a times, the pioneer will become stronger. Apple Vs Windows. iPhone Vs Samsung etc are examples. Some other times, the thief would become bigger and better. Orkut vs Facebook etc. It depends on how you manage your ideas !! Once it is out in the market, others can steals it, improvise it or alter it to suite their business.” He further gave the optimism that despite whatever competition we may face, we can alter the consumer behaviour if we offer value.
The Founder of YesMeal, Mr.Muhamed Nizam then shared his long story which was quite inspiring!
He said, “I have felt this issue. We were doing restaurant deliveries when we started our company. When we started around 5 years ago, Swiggy had barely started, Zomato was a reviewing app, Uber (no, not UberEats) wasn’t launched in India. We were sitting pretty. The only problem was in convincing restaurateurs to outsource their home delivery portion to a third party. But, we were succeeding quite well. We started new verticals, like frozen meat, grocery, laundry and even documents delivery. But, Alas! Zomato added online ordering (which helped us in the beginning because they wanted the restaurants to deliver the orders which was mostly difficult for them), Uber started its Eats section, Swiggy launched in Kochi. The launch of Swiggy was followed with Zomato starting their own delivery fleet. We went down and Hard! We lost 95% orders in the restaurant vertical. Our orders came down 50% in the other segments. This was a very difficult time and we came up with ideas like working with our competitors. We started outsourcing our staff for them, both officially and unofficially. We strengthened our other verticals, launched in other cities and came back to the earlier levels. We are currently facing competition from them again in the grocery and vegetable verticals. And I am thinking, there you go! I will have to come up with fresh ideas and this will keep us thinking. Challenges are sure to awaken the real entrepreneur in us. Note Ban, GST, Floods didn’t exact help. But, Corona has kind of boosted our business!”
Mr.Rahul Balachandran, Founder & CEO of Inker Robotics concluded the discussion by sharing his life journey as an Entrepreneur for over 15years where he has failed in few start-ups where he had put lot of efforts. He was also teased by people around. He shared honestly that he has felt frustrated and dejected to see that someone else stole his idea or a competitor comes up with a better version. During his early period of entrepreneurship, he used to feel anger and would even want a punching bag at his gym but later he started looking at these situations differently. When he saw that someone else is implementing the ideas he once failed, he felt happy that he was right once.
I also spoke with Lt.Col. Prem Vas, who is currently a specialist in Human Capital Management, on the same topic. He with his innate wits, told that, it’s ok to feel lousy in the beginning. “Then after a hot cuppa or cold beer – depending on the time & mood of the day – push all thoughts out of my mind – even for a few moments – it’s hard yes – but not impossible. Then take stock of my strengths – however humble – don’t compare with the competitor yet. You will feel slightly well if not a lot better – depending on how your positive affinity quotient is! Plan a strategy to take in those areas your competitor has lesser presence! Borrow immense amount of faith from your belief system – could be a religion, your role model, your rationalism or simply a strong belief in yourself! Have a last sip of cuppa and bottoms up – pull up socks, fold your sleeves and kick your butt to move on!! “
Boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face!” Well, this holds true in the case of entrepreneurs. The success of an entrepreneur lies in their ability to face the punch in their face. And when you get punched. You punch back harder!
thank all my fellow entrepreneurs for their comments and opinions on the topic. Though I started the conversation when I was feeling blues due to issues in my entrepreneurial journey, the conversation helped me realise that the “entrepreneurial blues” are a common thing and it is in these times that we need a support group to discuss, share ideas, get suggestions and sometimes, just to tell you that, “you are awesome and you should go forward”!
Cheers to all in the wonderful and fulfilling life journey of Entrepreneurship!
#CeeVee is the brand name of Dr. Chandra Vadhana.
Dr. Chandra Vadhan
Founder and Chief Mentor,