By Prabhat Sinha
Enterprise is when the idea of light transforms into electric bulbs that reach the consumer. Enterprise is when the idea of telecommunications helps a person use a telephone to communicate conveniently. Enterprise is when the advantage of the Internet is used to help people interact online real time.
A Ford, a Benz, an Apple, a Google or an Amazon is an enterprise. An enterprise is also creating the most cost-efficient infrastructure to help Ford make its car. Or, using Amazon to expand one’s business. Or, simply establishing the most effective logistics for Amazon to reach the products sold in the fastest time.
A bright idea that disrupts the conventional business practice is an enterprise when the initiative succeeds in making the new practice more acceptable and desirable by more people over time. To succeed, one would assume that the entrepreneur has the foresight to see through the changing markets and cast goals at the levels that can yield profits. There is no midway in such an enterprise. No half way mark. Either the entrepreneur has seen the last mile, or not.
Most new age entrepreneurs are reluctant to see the last mile. Either because they may not have the foresight, or they may not able to predict market trends especially in an era led by technology transformations. In the absence of substance behind their goals, such entrepreneurs are more likely to be consumed by those who are in search of pedestrian crafts that have the depth to be in the galleries.
May I suggest then that the changing landscape of technology is producing more traders than genuine enterprise? They may wish to be called serial entrepreneurs with incredible capacity to think through. However, such a trend is likely to create a new generation of people who did their best before they were 40. Yes, several of them made millions as well.
It may be a fantastic idea to be a multi-millionaire when you are 40. But are they content living with nothing more than a few millions in their bank accounts? I wonder how society will see them as people who offer nothing more than the best whiskeys or a fabulous dinner. And I also wonder about what they think and feel.
The human mind could be difficult to handle when it realises people see you simply as the money you are worth. It may also coax you to feel pitiable about the neighbour whose salary is but a mere share of your wealthy but is more successful as they continue to work and apply their skills. It may also treat you most distastefully for once having such a sharp mind and intellect that got lazy, sick and tired without bigger and better challenges.
Think about the entrepreneurs who cracked the big idea, driven by the passion to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Perhaps they gave up on formal education, betting instead on the promise of the idea. Maybe a venture capitalist found merit in the idea and funded it for a share in the business. Next, a company is created, which soon invites a private equity investor. The entrepreneur’s share in the business is further diluted. But the entrepreneur’s eyes are now set on the money it is worth.
Most investors are aware of this cycle. They will be keen to see the value multiply, perhaps at a scale the entrepreneur is unsure of managing. After all, its not every entrepreneur’s cup of tea to manage top class functional experts who are driven by established business practices. This is when the entrepreneur begins to feel like a stranger in the business they have created. Most such entrepreneurs would say, “Hey, I am open to what you suggested the last time. You have been a great partner. So tell me what is the best way to exit”. This is when the investors know the lowest price at which the entrepreneur will exit. After all, what did the entrepreneur once have other than a garage and an idea? Shouldn’t they be more excited by the bungalow of their dreams that they can now buy?
It’s trade off, one might say. Commercially, yes. Would one bother to consider the waste of youthful energy that could have contributed more to the world, business or not? How does one know that the young entrepreneur would not have made a million lives better and richer?
If it is the next generation that defines the way, one would hope that they do define how to build wealth for the enterprise they create rather than how fast they can build wealth for themselves.
Prabhat Sinha is an established business leader, as well as a speaker, writer, blogger, success coach and mentor.
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