I have 23 years of corporate experience. Stints across sales, marketing, customer services and then as a part of the senior management team. So when I took my first step into the entrepreneurial world, I was confident that I had in me what it takes to set up my own business.
Sadly, but fortunately, I was in for a rude shock. Sadly because I realised that all those years in the corporate world, while useful in many ways, weren’t going to help me set up my new venture. Fortunately, because the realisation dawned on me rather quickly before much damage was done.
What I realised is, entrepreneurship, particularly for those who have spent a few years in the corporate world, is more about unlearning than learning. It is a completely different ball game. And it requires a completely different mindset.
This paradigm shift in mindset is the unlearning that every entrepreneur has to undergo. The sooner, the better.
Unlearning is a process of mindful awareness. An awareness of our beliefs, habits and behaviour. Unlearning requires us to step out of our “comfort zone” and confront realities that we are perhaps oblivious of. As corporate professionals, certain things come as a part of the package. One of them is the “safety net”. As an entrepreneur, there is no “safety net”. And dealing with it isn’t easy.
I have listed below the 3 most essential things that an entrepreneur should unlearn to be able to pursue his dreams and make them come true.
Unlearn Being An Employee
As an employee, you have a defined role in an organisation. Your role and responsibilities are well documented and your performance is measured vis-à-vis these responsibilities.
As an entrepreneur, you are donning different hats. From being the visionary to getting your hands dirty doing all the operational stuff. There is no one telling you what is to be done. The important trait that helps you unlearn being an employee is “initiative”.
You have to be self-driven and willing to step out of the comfort zone of “delegating” or “getting things done”. In the early years, you will not be able to afford the luxury of hiring teams. So get moving, and make things happen.
Unlearn The Fear Of Failure
The fear of failure is imbibed in us as a child. The fear of not living up to our parents expectations, the fear of being laughed at if we fail, the fear of being reprimanded by our teachers if we don’t fare well in examinations have all made us shy away from trying.
“Ships were not built to stay in the harbor” nor were entrepreneurs meant to play things safe. An entrepreneur needs to be constantly trying different things. Not trying by itself is the biggest failure.
If you do not fail, you will never be able to replicate success. The mindset shift here is about the willingness to try, expecting and being prepared for failure and celebrating success.
Unlearn Externalising Failures
As a part of the corporate “review” mechanism, professionals get programmed to justify why things didn’t happen the way they should have. Because in most corporates, that is, the design and format of the “review”.
In entrepreneurial life, there is no review. There is no justification. You either get things done or you don’t. But more importantly, as an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. The sooner an entrepreneur unlearns externalisation of failure and starts taking responsibility for every action, the chances of success are higher. The act of accepting this responsibility gives you the power to make things happen and to do the things you believe in.
As I mentioned before, unlearning is a process of mindful awareness. At the same time it’s not easy to do it yourself. Surround yourself with positive-minded people.
Have friends who will help you identify your habits and beliefs that need to undergo change. If possible, get a coach or mentor. But most importantly, believe and accept that you need to go through this cleansing process of unlearning.
[The author Shailesh Kantak is the founder and CEO of Flexi Ventures – which was set up with an objective of setting up a platform for businesses and professionals to connect and collaborate, FlexiPort.]