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Becoming an entrepreneur || Acharya Prashant, DTU session (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Acharya Prashant (AP): The questioner is asking how to be a good entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship is about initiating something, right? Doing something, beginning something. Before you become a good entrepreneur, must you not ask what is worth doing? Or is entrepreneurship merely about collecting profits rather than salaries? To many people, that is the definition of entrepreneurship.

One says, “I was an employee, I used to have a limited salary. Now I am an entrepreneur, I can collect much bigger profits. I was an employee, I used to be humiliated by my boss; now as an entrepreneur, I can humiliate as many employees as I want to. I was an employee; I belong to an industry that would use fear and greed to compel and defraud its customers. Now as an entrepreneur, I am making my employees do exactly the same thing, probably even on a bigger scale, right?”

Such entrepreneurship is just a continuation of what one has been since a very long time. One has been greedy, insecure, ambitious, fearful, accumulative, possessive. And all of that finds a big expression in the act of entrepreneurship. One used to compete with his colleagues. Now one is competing with the other companies in his industry. One is an entrepreneur now. And even before when one was competing with his colleagues; one was competing with fellow students, one was competing with his brothers, sisters, cousins; the same tendency to be ambitious and jealous has now manifested itself on a bigger scale in the act of entrepreneurship. Nothing has really changed, there is no dimensional change in what you have been and therefore what you have been doing. It is just a change of degree.

Earlier, you were doing one thing in a small way, now you are doing the same thing in a big way. So, what has really changed for you? Such entrepreneurship means very little. In fact, such entrepreneurship is often heavily destructive. One can become an entrepreneur, for example, in the field of killing animals, cutting animal flesh, and supplying freshly cut flesh to people at their doorsteps. And this might be a successful business model. But this kind of an entrepreneurship is idiocy, perversion, profanity.

You have to figure out, first of all, what is worth doing. The world is suffering a lot at the hands of super ambitious entrepreneurs already. Each of these firms that are today responsible for climate change, for loss of biodiversity, for loss of forest cover; they all would have started off as entrepreneurial firms one day. The evil was present right in the moment of beginning. The evil was present right in the very desire of the entrepreneur, the very motive of the entrepreneur when he started out. And that evil then gets magnified by a thousand times, a million times.

So, be very-very clear, be very honest, very inquisitive: what is it that you are trying to do and why? If you are trying to begin something just for your personal aggrandizement, then it would be a curse to the entire humanity and it would take you down as well. Whereas if you have a larger purpose, then it makes sense to start out. We do need able and wise entrepreneurs. I must say wise and able. Wisdom comes first. And if you have wisdom, then ability can even be developed slowly. We need wise entrepreneurs. Because there is a lot that needs to be fixed. There is a lot that is today broken on this earth.

We need young people, who come out, who set out and fix those things. Those are the kind of entrepreneurial adventures that are needed today. Not another one in the field of real estate, or in the field of, you know, some general technology, not another one in the field of doorstep delivery of some goods. No, no. We already have enough of them. What we need is a very clear and precise type of entrepreneurial activity. Activity that restores to the earth and to mankind what it has devastatingly lost. Entrepreneurship that is not aimed at consuming more and more but which rather is focused on healing, setting things right. So, that’s what you have to watch out for.

Otherwise, you too can start out and probably there would be somebody eager to fund you if you have brains and energy. There are lot of people who have capital and who want to invest their capital in young people with intellect and energy. And these young people often do succeed in multiplying the money of the investor and returning him handsome amounts and all that is so so tiring and so sordid. So, do not just be attracted by the glamour and the celebrity of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is a missionary activity. Entrepreneurship must be a missionary activity if it is not. Entrepreneurship is a crusade. Entrepreneurship is something that you do to come to a meaning in life. You do not become an entrepreneur so that you may sell off your venture after four years and then move to something else to make more profits to consume and fatten your belly.

Entrepreneurship has to be a love affair, a lifelong love affair.

Entrepreneurship must be something that you can persist with even if you do not make any profits. Only then, obviously, it can be lifelong, otherwise, at some stage, you will give up, you will give in. You are a good entrepreneur, you are a worthy entrepreneur if you look to make money so that the firm can keep growing and keep expanding. And you are not a worthy entrepreneur if you are looking to make money so that you can consume more and more. So watch out.

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