Starting out as an entrepreneur is never easy. I learnt that in the last 18 months that it has its own share of excitement, perils and uncertainties. What is typically available in abundance is people willing to give you free advice on how you should go about your job. Believe me, there are some very beautiful worded advice given by well wishers that are in fact absolutely useless and misleading for an entrepreneur. Here are 10 such pieces of advice…

1. You must be absolutely clear about what you want to do.

Oh really? Frankly, even the most successful businessmen of today did not have a clue about how the business would shape up over a period of time. I doubt if Mark Zuckerberg or even Jeff Weiner would have been able to really fathom the full impact of the disruption they were going to create. The truth is that you start off with a broad idea. You pick up strings along the way and learn as you go. Your actual business model will evolve gradually over a number of years, not overnight. So if you are starting out on your own and are confused, you are possibly on the right track.

2. Be fully aware of the risks you are getting into.

Frankly, no entrepreneur can fully fathom the risks that they are getting into. There are a variety of risks that will come along the way. Business prospects will not translate into business. Follow-ups will be endless. You will find yourself in a constant liquidity crunch. External environment will conspire to make life miserable for you. There is no way you are going to envisage all these risks. It is humanely impossible and you have got to learn to take the risk as it comes.

3. Be absolutely sure that you are cut out for doing business.

The truth is that you have to cut yourself according to the job. Nobody is born a successful businessman. They are made; and made gradually. The most important quality of an entrepreneur is persistence. You have to keep chipping away bit by bit and learning along the way. There is nothing like you are born to be an entrepreneur. If you have the flair to take risks and the persistence to stay with the idea, you can make a success of it.

4. If it is not working, just move on.

Sorry, that does not work when you are entrepreneur. Ok, you have to be flexible to make changes and learn along the way. But jumping from one idea to another idea and from one project to another project is a recipe for disaster. To extend my previous argument, you have to be persistent.

5. Ensure that your family is not to put to any trouble.

I mean; are you serious? Have you ever heard of a person who became an entrepreneur and his family did not have to worry about anything. That does not happen in reality. Your family has to go through the pain and uncertainty, whether they like it or not. If you want to become an entprepreneur only after everything is secured, you are best suited to a job. Perish the thought of being an entrepreneur.

6. Be clear where you will be 10 years from now. 

Yes sir, I just heard that Mark Zuckerberg knew exactly that Facebook will be worth $200 billion in 10 years flat. No entrepreneur who starts out on his own ever has a clue what is going to happen 1 year down the line; leave alone knowing what will happen 10 years down the line. You need to do your task with a passion, learn along the way and be flexible where required. In a dynamic environment, you struggle to visualize the next few quarters. 10 years is 40 quarters; Holy Jesus that is a real long time.

7. Remember, you have to be ruthless to succeed in business.

Have we not heard this generalization so often from our well wishers? Come on, you are talking about following your passion, not to become a modern day Gordon Gekko. More than anything else, being successful in business is about humility. Have the humility to learn as you go along. Have the humility to admit when you are wrong. Have the humility to delve into the details of the problem, however small.

8. To succeed you have to get the big picture right.

That is hogwash. Being a successful entrepreneur is not about the big picture at all. It is all about getting the small details right. In the early days of your business, you get bogged down by the micro details not by macro issues. Your philosophy should be, “Take care of the micro details and the macros will take care of itself. Being a generalist with a big picture will not get you too far.

9. To succeed in business you have to be rational and let your head rule your heart.

Sorry to disappoint you again. With these qualities you can probably be a successful middle or senior level executive in the corporate world. As an entrepreneur you are driven by passion and passions are normally irrational and crazy. In fact, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have a crazy side to your personality. Remember, the pragmatic man tries to adapt himself to the world and the crazy man tries to adapt the world to himself. So all progress and innovation comes from crazy people. But please don’t stretch this argument too far.

10. Ensure that your revenues are growing consistently.

That only happens in regular salary hikes. Businesses follow  a different model of growth altogether. More so, when you are an entrepreneur. You first go through the phase of building the business model. They you go through the phase of building visibility. Then you go through the pain of taking your idea to achieve a critical mass. It is only after this stage that you are actually able to exploit the commercial potential of your idea fully. In the initial years, forget about consistent growth in income. It will grow in fits and starts.

These are the 10 most common and also the 10 most useless pieces of advice that you will get when you start off as an entrepreneur. Beware they are all extremely misleading and dangerous. You surely do not want to learn it the hard way, do you?


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