Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The 4 Things No One Tells You About Entrepreneurship

The 4 Things No One Tells You About Entrepreneurship

Original article at 

Entrepreneurship is glorified in our society today. I have enough experience under my belt to remember the “before” picture of entrepreneurship and it wasn’t always this way.
When I came out of school in the 80s, you were almost a misfit if you started your own company. Sentiment toward entrepreneurs at the time was like brackish water; they weren’t disdained but they weren’t heroes either.
However, in the mid-80s, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, there was a very specific period of time when you had the emergence of companies like Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Adobe and MYOB. And during that time, entrepreneurship went from the refuge of the misfits who couldn’t find a job to something that became more accepted. By the 1990s, entrepreneurship had become accepted by the mainstream and today entrepreneurs are rock stars.
he purpose of this article is not to give you the history of entrepreneurship but to share a realistic picture of being an entrepreneur that’s outside of the conversation in the popular media—the real story.  The ugly parts. Because the truth is that not everyone is meant to be an astronaut, not everyone is meant to be a doctor, not everyone is meant to be a sandwich maker and, certainly, not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur.
Below I’ve outlined what I consider to be some of the most difficult parts of being an entrepreneur, the underbelly of entrepreneurship in an age when entrepreneurs are celebrities. I say this not to discourage would-be entrepreneurs, but to paint a realistic picture.
1) There is a sense of isolation that is really profound. We’re all used to being part of a reference group. When you’re an employee of an established business, you have your colleagues. When you’re in college, you have your classmates. And when you get involved in the community, you have fellow organization members. But when you start a business, you are truly on your own. If you’re lucky, you may have a partner or a co-founder, but that’s it. There is a tremendous sense of isolation and loneliness that comes with not having this reference group. Not a lot of people like to talk about it, whether out of embarrassment or because it doesn’t fit with the perceived personality type of a successful entrepreneur, but the sense of isolation is real.
2) Most businesses provide a lifestyle and a job, but they don’t provide wealth. For example, most restaurant owners probably take home an income that is not much greater than that made by a restaurant manager at a popular chain. That’s important to understand because we think of entrepreneurs as wealthy when the truth is that most entrepreneurs have a job and a very difficult job at that. This is another important misconception that’s not often discussed.
3) It usually takes many years to build a business. I’ve run three businesses in my lifetime: a very simple business, a moderately simple business and a very complicated business. In the first business, the “simple” one, it took me a year to make profits. In the second business, the moderately simple one, it took me about three years to become profitable. To make the third and most complicated business profitable and scalable, it took us about six years of grinding, stretching and pushing. It even took Facebook 5 years to become profitable. It is not common for a business to skyrocket to revenue and profitability. For most entrepreneurs, it takes many years to build a real company.
4) You have to manage people. When you’re running a business, you’re constantly managing, not just employees but vendors and customers as well. You’re always the bad guy, you’re making difficult decisions, and, in many ways, you’re alone with your decisions. I had a friend who ran a business and he used to refer to himself as the Grim Reaper: He was always the guy with the bad news, always the guy to find the problem that really needed to be addressed. Managing people is not easy, and it doesn’t come naturally to many people. However, it’s a critical part of being a successful business leader and entrepreneur.
If you love what you’re doing and you like business, being an entrepreneur could be a great thing. It’s certainly good for the country, but recognize that it might not live up to the picture painted in the popular media.  

Read more:

Brian Hamilton is the chairman and co-founder of Sageworks. He is the original architect of Sageworks’ artificial intelligence platform, FIND, which is the leading financial analysis technology for analyzing private companies and is used by thousands of accounting firms and financial institutions across North America.  He has dedicated his life to bringing greater clarity to financial statements and to increasing financial literacy among businesses. Hamilton regularly leads discussions on private company performance, the financial strength of companies preparing for an IPO and entrepreneurship in major business and financial news outlets such as CNBC and The Wall Street Journal. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Naked Revelation

The Naked Revelation
- By Mohnish Nair

I am on a journey. A new found exploration triggered by my quest for the real secret to living a life by choice rather than compulsions. And in this voyage of self discovery and the reasons why things happen to some so favorably while many struggle for the basic needs of life has led me to believe that everything that happens to us and is happening, everything that we think, feel, do, act and achieve are driven by extremely raw and basic instincts. I have realized that there are two basic needs that drive human behavior. These two instincts that have driven the human species to rule this planet over the other apparently “intellectually weaker” species have proven to be the source of all power, fulfillment and even misery. So what separates the haves from the have nots. There is no pseudo intellectualization here nor do I claim to have found the real truth. This is merely my interpretation of what I have observed which for all reasons may be a figment of a delusional mind.

All I have understood and interpreted from my limited understanding is that humans are slaves of two self obsessed needs, i.e. firstly the need to survive and secondly the need to gratify. Just look back at your life, everything you have done, learnt, thought of was to somehow move forwardly in the thread of time to either survive or to gratify a desire. All your relationships are created at the core to either help you survive or gratify. Your marriage, your kids, your friendships, your profession, your hobbies, your interest everything has been part of you to fill a void created by the need to satisfy these two needs.

Even though our scriptures and saints have led us to believe that humans are born with a deeper purpose and meaning in this cosmos. And as much as I have been made to believe in karma and its consequences, I have off late seen a naked truth staring right at my face. As much as I was brought up as a child to believe in selflessness, righteousness and tolerance, I am increasingly observing selfishness, self obsession and self centeredness around me. Now I am in no way advocating that this is right or wrong. Maybe we have been designed and programmed to be survival oriented and to care for ones own like all other species. My argument is if we are supposed to be self centered then why are we expounded and preached to become giving and selfless by the so called “Holy” men. Do they themselves believe in it? Do people who propagate the philosophy of brotherhood and “being human” do so because it sounds right and that they fear repulsion from the society if they do not agree with populist beliefs? Are we as a race afraid of being ostracized by the community and hence blindly follow and preach what sounds “right”? Now isn’t this behavior again rooted to the need to be accepted for SURVIVAL?

Now you may argue that this is merely my unfortunate exposure about life and that I have a cynical world view. I may also sound myopic and pessimistic in my analysis. I am not trying to generalize and color everyone with the same paint. As much I would like to believe that humans are equipped with the power to be compassionate, tolerant and selfless. My experience and my learning as time progresses has been more revealing about the not so pleasant side of the human face. May be this is the real truth and may be all these years I have been living in a bubble. All we care about is ourselves. And even if I do help, care and support the other, that too stems from the desire to gratify ones own need to feel guilt free and accepted by others.

I really don't know if I have lost the plot or found the truth. But this is what stares me in my face and I am afraid I can't ignore it. My understanding of the purpose of human existence is still incomplete and my journey continues to search for the meaning of life. I would want you to observe what I have written in your daily life and then tell me if what I have found out is for real or not. What do you think???

- Mohnish Nair