Sunday, May 14, 2017

A year of entrepreneurship

One year ago, to this date, was my first client meeting. And just the day before was my last day at my corporate job.

The meeting went well - without a real promise of anything coming my way (I had to get used to this - meetings are only a first step - though the getting used took a long time.)

As I waited at the bus stop after the meeting, I reflected on how, if this was a corporate meeting, a cab would be waiting for me and all I had to do was ask the cab to come to the entrance. And in this new avatar, frugalism was the name of the game.

So, with the job, gone was the cabin. The position. The title. The designation. The corporate privileges which we get used to and sometimes feel entitled to as well. Gone was a huge team who would be the force multipliers, the executors, available for every discussion - now there was nothing.

Just the wide world and a traveller with a bag and a journey.

It was a new road, a new identity, perhaps a journey to find myself as well.

At the start, beginners luck was good. But soon, the beginner ran out of luck. And then the inevitable trough happened. And then, after riding through the dip, there was promise...All this sounds good on paper, there were quite a few reflective moments (and they continue).

Much water, bridge from that meeting - and a year later, here are my learnings, mostly to myself...

Once you deliver, customers trust you. All Outthinc customers are repeat customers.

There is work out there. Go fish. Everyday. This is my observation since I started off on this journey. And it remains.

There are underserved areas in the market and such areas exist. Like in real life markets, gems are hidden.

A true differentiator needs to be created - if you dont, the market will do it - without differentiating. In careers, within companies as well in the outside world  - if you dont create your career, the market will and that may work out both ways...

It is good to try out different types of work, but it is important to know what to say yes to and what to say no to.

The range of experience one gets in the outside world is no match to what you get to do within a firm. In the last 12 months, I have worked with more companies and industries and levels than in my entire career (well, almost).

The journey can be lonely, especially if you are a one man enterprise. It can be stressful, it can be anxiety ridden and while people mostly focus on the freedom part - they miss out on the discipline part. It takes discipline - lots of it. To work when there is no immediate payoff. To work on every proposal as if it is your first. To get up and work each day - and believe in yourself and do things that you are not comfortable or not used to.

There is goodness and good news in the market. Unlikely collaborators. Friends. People. Yes, there is goodwill out there. There are good companies and good people to work and collaborate with. And yes, I am lucky to have found a few.

Some months people dont care if you exist, other months everybody wants you (and usually 3 separate clients want April Eleventeenth second half in Jaipur, Mumbai and Chennai - not Bangalore).

There is space to try out of the box approaches - I personally follow my 20% time. And with the help of a great intern, I was able to try out a new concept.

Some unscrupulous elements take proposals only for ideas and then vanish promptly after that. This is an occupational hazard. So a balance between original ideas, googled ideas and very erudite ideas (completely non googleable, only mine, out of the box) has to be kept.

For all those who have been with me in this journey (you know who you are), thank you!

Post script: The first meeting did result in work and remains my first customer.