Read this interesting article in the Economic Times about how people find it difficult to quit their jobs despite being miserable and planning for a long time.
Yes, I am all for following one’s passion and doing what they love but the mantra should be taken with a pinch of salt, especially in this day and age when ‘entrepreneurship’ is the ‘in thing’ to do and has been romanticized to quite an extent. Once FB’s IPO debuts, millions more will be ‘inspired’ to join the bandwagon.
So what does it really entail ?
Lets say you want to start an e-commerce store since that seems to be the flavor of the season, what with a new one launching every day πŸ™‚
Assuming you were in a job and handling marketing or sales of a particular product or service offering in your company. You had an organization which provided various support functions in running the company business.
Now that you have started up, here are some of the things that you will have to do / get done (in no particular order)

  • Company Incorporation: You have to decide on sole proprietorship / partnership or pvt ltd model, find a CA, get together a bunch of documentation and do a bit of running around – Its not fun.
  • Allied documentation: Opening bank accounts, getting PAN cards, Sales Tax, Service Tax etc etc registrations.
  • Office Location: If you are planning to work from home initially, its fine, but ultimately you will need to go look for office space – Decisions regarding location, costs, space, access to public transport for future employees etc etc. Finding a broker, negotiating a contract, etc is pretty exhausting – And all the more fun if you are doing it in summer.
  • Office furnishings: Finding furniture, getting the office fitted out, internet connections, stationery supplies etc need to be taken care of.
  • Product Vendors: You will need to find vendors of the products you want to sell, meet them a million times, and convince them to let you sell their products while negotiating discounts, shipping and delivery and storage.
  • Warehouse: You will need a facility to store, pack, label and ship products from (Of course this can be done from your existing office till you ‘scale up’ )
  • Technology: You will need to get the website built which will include apart from other stuff graphic design, the UI and backend system. The first call that needs to be taken is should you develop it in-house or outsource to a third party. Both have their pros and cons and rest assured, whichever method you choose, it will be a major pain to get it out of the door – If you budget 2 months to get it done, hope for a realistic 3-4 month timeline.
  • Logistics: You will need to find logistics partners for shipping and delivery (And god help you if you offer Cash on Delivery)
  • Customer Support: You will need to have a team(even if its one person initially) to look after customer support queries
  • Sales: This is one crucial bit and can be very challenging if you don’t have any prior sales experience.
  • Marketing: This is one area which gets neglected most in a startup. Marketing aint some vague concept but broadly consists of “developing a good product and effectively conveying Β it to your customers”. It is NOT Advertising. It starts right from product development, branding, sales and customer service.
  • Advertising: The first is to develop an overall advertising strategy – The comes getting the creatives done after which comes media planning – Are you going to use Print / TV / Social Media / Outdoor Media etc etc.
  • People: Hiring people will be a pain and retaining them even more so.

And these are just some of the major headings which need to be taken care of. There will be a million small tasks which need to be taken care of on a daily basis.
Now you wont have to DO all of these things yourself but you still have to take a decision on all of them, which is much harder than it seems.
On top of this, during the development phase, not only will you not be making money, you will also not be earning your salary, which can be a bit unnerving unless you have decent savings or a better half running the house.
If you are planning to run this as a one man show (via outsourcing lot of the functions), you will have to deal with emotional swings – One day, you will be on top of the world and the next day, you will find yourself why did you even venture out on your own. Its in these times that having a partner / co founder helps.
Still think your job sucks and following your passion by running a business is a lot of fun ?
There is no straight answer which will apply to anybody.
Ofcourse its not all that bad. The thrill of making that first sale, learning new stuff everyday, meeting a variety of people, solving problems and getting work done etc etc is definitely more fun than slaving over ppt’s in a cubicle.
So yes, go ahead and startup. Just take off the rose tinted glasses first πŸ™‚ because at the end of the day, its primarily about creating and running a successful business.

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