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Article by Mohan Babu


Entrepreneurship: Myths and realities

The founders of Infosys, Wipro and Biocon should not be revered to the extent that it sends a message to wannabe entrepreneurs that the path laid out by the role models is a walk-in-the-park. MOHAN BABU writes a three-part series on the myths and realities of entrepreneurship

As the writer of this column, I enjoy considerable leeway when it comes to selecting and exploring topics which I feel are current. A topic that persistently comes to mind, and on which I have dwelt on and off, is entrepreneurship; most of my articles on this topic provoke considerable debate among readers. Many readers also regularly write to me about their ventures and adventures on the entrepreneurial front. Some mail requests for help in their marketing, something which I am not inclined or qualified to do, and a few write asking if I can review and write about their software, which again I don’t normally indulge in. Some readers assume that I am a sort of philanthropist with truckloads of money to give away, mailing me, asking if I can ‘invest’ in their nascent ventures. Well, what can I say? I just ignore those mails. A few mails I receive go into the heart of the what-and-why of entrepreneurship, and dwell on fundamentals of business strategies; these are sometimes intriguing.

At the heart of every entrepreneur is the dream to make it big, come up with the next big thing since Bill Gates developed and marketed DOS. Not surprisingly, the current euphoria over Infosys, Wipro and Biocon announcing their joining the billion-dollar club made headlines in the Indian high-tech sector. Headlines such as ‘Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, national icon’ are already making rounds. Having had a ringside view of the euphoric dotcom boom where similar headlines on the tech-boom regularly made one sit down to think, it comes as a breath of fresh air to see the tide swing towards the Silicon Valley of the East.

Indian entrepreneurs seem to be basking in the spotlight, and the media are having a ball, having suddenly found an easy picking of stories to select from. This is where I take umbrage. Yes, the founders of Infosys, Wipro and Biocon deserve to be fêted; however, they should not be revered to the extent that it sends a message to the youth and wannabe entrepreneurs that the path laid out by the role models is a walk-in-the park. The attitude of hero-worship by those ‘responsible’ members of the Fourth Estate sometimes borders on the preposterous.

Having set the ground for the discussion, I will begin by talking about some of the most common myths of entrepreneurship and innovation. Some of these may be common-sense and do not need a eureka moment to realise. However, in many cases, entrepreneurship goes against the grain of common sense. Purists should note that this list is an eclectic collection of thoughts based on my experiences and dealings with entrepreneurs and business leaders, and is not an all-encompassing authoritative list.

Myth: This is a killer idea that is going to revolutionise the world.

Reality: Evolution, not revolution, really sells. The next big invention since sliced bread has been invented scores of times, and most of us probably didn’t even realise it. The world is not really waiting eagerly for the next-big-thing, at least not all the time. Most of us (consumers, business leaders, technocrats and the public) are too busy fighting daily fires to embrace the next big invention. What we really want is an evolutionary change; a better mousetrap, if you will. Case in point: even Microsoft, perhaps the most revered entrepreneurial venture of the past century, worked on perfecting the art of identifying trends after shaping up and then betting their dollars. The company did not invent GUI (Graphical User Interface), yet turned Windows into the de facto GUI for the desktop. The company did not invent gaming, but turned X-Box into a force to reckon with. Same with the famous/infamous browser wars; as we read, the company is poised to increase its share of the growing Internet search business by taking on Google.

I would love to receive feedback from readers to examine the models they are exploring. The issues I would particularly be interested in include strategic aspects of entrepreneurship, the business models being explored, analysis of business plans, RoI (Return on Investment), SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis done, and innovative use of collaborative technologies to address globalisation.

The myths we will be examining are some of the most commonly occurring misconceptions of budding entrepreneurs. In the next few columns on this theme, I will spell out a few more thoughts on entrepreneurship and some of the most common myths associated with beginning new ventures.





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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    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    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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