By Salil Parekh
India is just about coming to terms with start-up entrepreneurship. There is a social stigma attached to practically every stage of life, and mindsets don't change easily. I recently met a friend and fellow entrepreneur over coffee and we were both reminiscing the good old days when we started out.
Rahul is a successful businessman today but, apart from battling the usual perils of piloting one's own venture, he had to break through many shackles that threatened to hold him back. Rahul told me about three common misconceptions he faced when deciding to go solo.
Myth # 1: Degree, Degree, Degree!
Rahul's parents were hung up on him getting a degree. A good degree is equated with a prosperous life and a good marriage. That's almost 'guaranteed'. A good degree will also fetch one a good, safe job. For people like Rahul's folks, start-ups are for people who can't find a job.
Myth # 2: MNC - the ticket to success & marriage
When marriage was on the cards, Rahul's parents were worried he wouldn't find a 'good bride'. If you don't work for a 'big company', you cannot command a solid marriage proposal. As for MNCs, well, they're the Holy Grail! Really? Look what happened to the folks at Enron, BearStearn and Satyam. Large companies don't hesitate to lay off employees by the hundreds when they want to improve their bottom line.
Myth #3: Only Fools Take Risks
Indian families do not encourage risk-taking and start-ups are all about taking risks. You fail, you get up, you learn, you fail again. The cycle continues till you one day either succeed or move on. Do you want to know why India has not produced a Google or a Facebook? That's because we don't go all out. We cling to the present for fear of the future. We don't let go. We want to play in our comfort zone and don't want to disrupt the status quo.
I came across an article in The Financial Express which said that, in 2011, only 200 technology companies received start-up funding compared to a few thousand in China and Israel. I believe that India can be a technology powerhouse - not in services but in global products.
There's nothing wrong with working for a large company although the start-up route is equally fulfilling, energising and rewarding. People in India just need to get their heads around the idea of a start-up. Thankfully, things are changing for the better.
Story was first published in the Entrepreneur India
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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 15:40:46 IST