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Article by Mohan Babu


Working Abroad - Entrepreneurship: Being one’s own boss

The success rate of entrepreneurial ideas is very low. Only one out of a hundred new ventures takes off, and out of that, an even smaller minority makes it really big. However, says MOHAN BABU, the fear of failure does not deter those with the drive or right idea

Like most people who have free Internet accounts with Yahoo and Hotmail, I frequently get scores of junk mail everyday. Sorting through such junk and deciding on the genuine mails can be a Herculean task, especially if one has held the mail account for a number of years and has got into some mailer’s seed list. Some of the mailers try to be extremely creative, especially while coining e-mail titles that prompt readers to at least open the mail. A recent mail I received was titled “Mohan: Be your own boss.” I instinctively knew it was junk and clicked it to be moved to the junk folder. However, I got thinking about the creative title. Being my own boss intrigued me. Most of us have an entrepreneurial streak in us, and at some point think that the ideal job in the world would be to become our own boss instead of being answerable to one. Starting our own company or venture becomes a natural extension of this entrepreneurial urge.

Magazine articles, TV shows and movies have a way of glorifying entrepreneurs, especially those who gave up a steady, coveted career to be their own boss. Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer, has been eulogised in dozens of magazine articles for being a successful entrepreneur despite being a college dropout (actually he started Dell in his college dormitory by supplying cheap PCs to fellow students). In the US, the media is especially aggressive when seeking such success stories since a key component of the “American Dream” comprises being a self-made millionaire. A luxurious car, house in the suburbs, spouse and kids automatically form a part of this dream. Given that the pillar of the American capitalistic system is based on the success of the corporate world including innovative entrepreneurs, the society encourages and nurtures such industrial dreams. There is also tacit approval given to those who switch careers midstream in order to pursue a dream.

To be your own boss

People start business ventures for various reasons, one of them being to become one’s own boss. However, facts prove otherwise. In reality, entrepreneurship means working for a number of bosses. Every business venture has a number of bosses: clients, vendors and employees are all bosses to the business. Keeping them all happy, motivated and moving in a uniform direction remains the sole aim of an entrepreneur or business owner. If you think it is tough managing to work with just your colleagues and boss at work, imagine trying to manage your own employees, and other stakeholders. Even in a smaller startup without any employees, you will still have to work with financiers, venture capitalists, governmental and local regulatory agencies and others stakeholders. Many first-time entrepreneurs get carried away by the glamour of starting a venture, and forget the need to cultivate strong people skills. The bottomline: If your main aim in starting a venture is to escape a tough boss, you may want to rethink your priorities.

A journey, not the end

There are different reasons for people to start their own ventures. The basic human need to be materialistic is a strong factor. By working for a company or an organisation, you can only draw a prescribed amount of salary with benefits, bonus and perks, etc. However, with your own venture, the sky is the limit—literally. Some people with innovative ideas or solutions generated while working for an employer decide to go it alone instead of trying to tout the idea to their company where it may get stuck in the bureaucracy. The success of modern entrepreneurs in the field of technology, including Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Narayana Murthy and others has proven that with the right ideas, skills and drive, one can make it really big. The dream that one can make it really big pushes individuals to think outside the box.

With all the hype, it is easy to forget that the success rate of entrepreneurial ideas is abysmally low. Only one out of a hundred new ventures takes off and out of that, an even smaller minority makes it really big. For every successful Microsoft or Infosys, you will find hundreds of thousands of start-ups that just didn’t cut it. However, the fear of failure does not deter those with the drive or right idea and desire to explore their passion.

Back to my junk e-mail that prompted this line of thought—Do I still want to be my own boss? You bet! Then again, I would love to continue to be my own boss at home, while enjoying a steady paycheck that my real boss at work provides me with.


About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    For FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America, visit the Ask-A-Desi section

    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 1999-2007

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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