Journey not Money
My wife, Bhavana, once told me, “The more you chase money, the further it runs away from you.” As an entrepreneur, I have never obsessed about money. I have done things because I saw a problem and gap in the market, and I tried to solve it. At times, it has worked. At other times, it has failed. The journey of discovering the opportunity, thinking through the solution and taking it to customers is what has been the driver. It cannot be about the valuation and exit one will get – focusing on these will distract and make for short-termism which will necessarily hurt the growth and profitability of the business.
At this point, it is useful to understand what an entrepreneur does. Israel Kirzner has this to say:
We have to recognize that when the entrepreneur discovers the automobile, he is not simply disrupting the calm. He is identifying what was in fact waiting to be introduced. Technological knowledge was being misapplied. Resources were being wasted on trains, carriages, and bicycles, when, in fact, what was waiting to be put together was this new gadget called the automobile. A person who recognizes this is responding to a preexisting, gaping hole in the market.
[I]n a more fundamental sense, he is correcting an already existing discoordination. He is redirecting resources that are already misplaced. People do not have to go on for years and years behaving in ways that are socially inefficient. The person who abruptly draws their attention to this inefficiency is assisting in the process of economic coordination.
While entrepreneurs may not know it, it is exactly what they do. This journey of filling in gaps in the market is what has to create the excitement. The financial reward that lies in store for success is just icing on the cake.
For me, when I launched IndiaWorld, the gap was in the flow of information from India to NRIs globally and the recognition that the Internet could play an instrumental role. The excitement was in making this happen – and not that one day I would sell the business and make a lot of money. It was this desire to make lives better that drove me – starting with news, then cricket scores, recipes and much more. The thrill lay in solving one problem and then the next and so on. Proficorns are built thus – one solution at a time.
Tomorrow: My Proficorn Way (Part 3)