Starting a business, getting into a family business, taking on a risky experiment at your organization or even setting up a social venture is a highly personal choice. This personal choice arises due to a strong feeling in the mind of the entrepreneur (entrepreneurial mind) towards a cause. This cause may be anything from becoming an expert, building an empire or solving a social problem. While the idea in the mind would have come out of external influence, the need to get out and do something is internal. Apart from all other characteristics that describe an entrepreneurial mind, this internal drive or calling remains the most defining and important one. But it is also this important need of the entrepreneur that gets least importance or priority post starting.
From the moment one has made the choice to start a venture he or she cannot deny that they have made a conscious decision to become part of the economic and social environment. There is no doubt that once you get involved with the business ecosystem, the focus is strongly on growth. This automatically brings to the forefront issues such as branding, institution building, financing, team formation, compliance, reporting and results amongst others. Amidst these pressures unless conscious efforts are taken, the inner calling of the entrepreneur first gets subdued and then eventually sidelined.
Even in classes that I teach on strategy and entrepreneurship, questions around vision formulation and translation, alignment between individual aspiration and strategies are of the least interest. Participants, entrepreneurs and students alike get carried away with the more tangible concepts and tools, such as opportunity evaluation, raising money, managing working capital, scaling etc. Even though all of these are very important, it is critical that on a routine basis the entrepreneur takes a little time off to see if what he or she is doing today is still aligned to why he or she started out. Failure to do this will eventually raise some fundamental questions in the entrepreneurial mind and create conflict and disconnect, despite visible business success. This is a dilemma that many entrepreneurs go through probably at more than one stage of the evolution of their enterprise: the dilemma of balancing business success with the founding aspirations.
Even if there has been a conscious change in the model, plan or nature of business it still has to ensure that the essential reason for starting has been addressed. While this may seem as a self serving exercise by many, who consider entrepreneurship as something that is being done for others (almost like charity), it is very important to acknowledge and accept the individual human need for satisfaction and happiness.
Agreed that it is demanding on the entrepreneur to do a variety of tasks to grow his / her enterprise, there still has to be that one part in the portfolio that satisfies the inner passion or need. After all isn’t that the reason why this all started?
Don’t forget why you started and keep servicing it, else it will keep you dissatisfied even with success all over you!