Post voluntary retirement from the Indian Army, when me and my wife took the call to embark on the journey to initiate our own setup, we had no idea whatsoever of the ‘hows and whys’ of a startup. It was impromptu, based on a raw idea which was embarked upon while looking for an apartment to settle down. When we now look back at this 2 year eventful journey, one is surprised as to where in the first place did the courage to take such a call come from. My wife kept telling me that ‘it’s in your blood’, when I gave it a serious thought I realised that she was right, entrepreneurship to a ‘fauji’ comes naturally, its second nature! This isn’t an off the cuff remark, I will explain it through various traits which are acquired by a soldier and his family during their journey in the Armed Forces.
We were always taught to take ‘calculated tactical risks’ during military operations. Taking risks whether operational or to save a comrade in difficulty, needs mental agility, flexibility to adapt as per the changing situation and guts to execute the plan against odds, to finally come out victorious- BTW, that’s all there is to entrepreneurship!
Start-ups require a regimented and disciplined approach towards finance, human resource, project management and marketing and who understands regimentation and discipline better than a man who has spent half his life in uniform.
My kids keep reminding of having stayed in accommodations’ where the rats felt that their territory had been encroached upon, to the ones with leaking roofs; one learned to enjoy, remain happy and cherish every moment in life (as you are with your loved ones) – Attitude, an attribute which was engrained in the most subtle manner and is key to any successful entrepreneurship.
Having enjoyed the most peaceful sleeps on the road or on the bonnet of a truck; from quenching your thirst with water from the nallah to the Bisleri bottles, from a tent to a five star, one has seen and experienced it all. Handling physical and mental hardships and enjoying through them, with equal ease; the bottom-line ‘this shall also pass’ – gives the ability to an entrepreneur to take it as it comes.
Having to move your family every one and a half to two years (if lucky 2 1/2years); the heated debates with your spouse whether to move the kids mid-session or not ; kids not only changing schools but from convents to KVs and not to forget those long breaks from academics just to spend a few quality days when the father is in a field station ; and how can one forget the long courses or temporary move duties of 3 to 6 months which shake you and your family out of a much cherished ‘peace posting’; the list can go on and probably is unending. All this inadvertently leverages you and your family to live & enjoy each day and keep moving on through uncertainties; this is exactly what you are required to do as an entrepreneur.
A typical ‘fauji family’ neither has huge financial assets, nor develops the desire to have them, but is still happy and contented (this does not entail that they don't have ambitions or do not want move forward in life, but are able to balance out the various facets). Why and how? Because, not only does the family develop and understand the importance of relationships, the organisation’s emotional support system is very strong and matured - the most important facet of team building in a start-up and needs no finances!
Courage, conviction and leadership neither need elaboration nor examples to drive home the point; one was destined to become a soldier based on these attributes, and of-course a start-up cannot survive without them.
A number of people questioned our intelligence (a few on our face and off-course majority on our back) on jumping into a start-up at 40+, as supposedly one does not possess the mental agility and flexibility required to handle the dynamics of a start-up at that age. My answer to these critics is that entrepreneurship is ‘a state of mind’ and has nothing to do with age. In fact, professional experience, maturity and emotional stability are essential aspects for anybody foraying into a start-up, which come with age and experience. It’s not always about the ‘maverick attitude’ which is generally associated with start-ups.
Only a ‘fauji’ can have those guts!
The above thoughts were shared with a tabloid during the launch of ‘Insights’ on our portal www.propchill.com, it made us feel light, relaxed and motivated. The battle continues- with not a penny in our pockets we still have the zeal, enthusiasm, desire and motivation to take it forward, am sure we will come out victorious and look forward to publishing our story in the form of a book- an idea has germinated!
Last thoughts – Life itself is entrepreneurship, so live it by your own rules!