Life is full of opportunities at every step. It gives us many scopes and chances to innovate and be proud on ourselves. What we do with these opportunities matters! And what we don’t do, matters as well. For every path that we take, makes us who we are today.
Yesterday, my neighbor came with a peculiar question to me. He asked me to tell him ways to discourage his son, from becoming an entrepreneur. So frustrated and hopeless was he with his kid. He asked me, “Ansh beta! Ever since you left your seven figure salaried job, you must have seen many downsides, tell me all about them so I could tell my son, not take on the same life.” I was startled. We were not even regular meeting pals. I was surprised that without even knowing me properly, how can this mid 40s looking man judge my life so low? As I was about to raise these questions to him, I was reminded that he and my papa (dad) go to the same park for morning walk. Still dealing with the realization that after all these years, my dad has still not approved my decision of leaving the job to start a company of my own; I told uncle that I will call him tomorrow. This neighbor reminded me of so many past memories.
Hi! I am Ansh, 30 years old entrepreneur, life coach, investor, and a to-be father. I was first in my family to leave the stability of nine-to-five job. I am writing this piece for those budding entrepreneurs whose ambition of starting a business doesn’t go down well with their parents.
I was in 5th grade when I first found the entrepreneur in me and that was when I also received a tight slap from my papa. I wanted to buy a new video game, and I knew papa wouldn’t allow that. So, I devised an idea. I would cycle to Nayi Sadak and buy comics in heavily discounted wholesale prices, and then rent it to the kids in my class for 10 rupees a day. Eventually, my papa got to know about this via my cousin and I got bad beating. He said I should focus on my studies. But, for me, it wasn’t about money or video game anymore, I loved the excitement of turning an idea into reality and understanding people’s spending habits. My experiments and learning from markets have continued ever since.
Many Indian parents shirk from letting their children travel on untrodden paths. This friction is especially common between parents and children of first generation entrepreneurs. It is not about if parents are right or wrong. It is rather important to understand that these are just their opinions, which in all probabilities are a result of their inherent conservatism and their own life’s struggles. They have never experienced any entrepreneurial journey and do not know if it’s the right thing. By being protective, they are just being who they are- our parents. But times have changed. Earlier there was only one insurance company- LIC, now there is a swimming pool of them. It all depends upon how strong your resolve and passion for entrepreneurship is.
Knowing that existential questions from parents can sometimes depress/frustrate aspiring entrepreneurs, I have listed some “Papa Kehte Hain” dialogues for you, to help you rise above parents’ perceptions and beliefs. They will also come handy in making your parents understand your point of view.
Start-Up Fail Ho Jayega! (Your start-up will fail.)
This was the first dialogue I was vilified with when I first told my papa that I am going to leave the job of Marketing Head to do a start-up of my own.
I understand that middle class is a status achieved and listening to their kids wanting to start their own company might seem too risky to them. Probably, their idea of rising in economic status is to wait for the day when their progenies will earn better than them and will eventually lead to upper class. But what about inflation, papa?
Living in a world which is so rapidly changing, the biggest risk would be to not take any risks and fear from failing. I myself have failed a few times in my venture, and I might fail again. But the truth is, the biggest learning of my life has come from failures. I always say- being entrepreneurs we should fail often. Remember,
“…successful people shoot for the stars, put their hearts on the line in every battle…In the long run, painful losses may prove much more valuable than wins…”
And parents! It’s important to give your children a chance to fail. Until when can you control your kids’ destinies? All you could do was to prepare your kids for this world.
- Maine Sab Dekha Hai! (I have seen it all.)
This is another dialogue I hear most dads speaking, including mine. My dad tried to start business with some Sharma Ji, but it didn’t work out so well. And yes, he has many negative opinions about starting a business.
I understand where they are coming from. They lived in times when owning a business was considered as a way for survival rather than a way for growth, experience and satisfaction of creating something. Desires and expectations from lives were different. Now, people have high expectations and numerous choices. Buying FD could is not the only form of investing money, now we are thinking in-terms of diversification of portfolios.
When it comes to starting a business, parents/friends/relatives will have many preconceived notions and advices. They will tell you horror stories and how it’s safe to stay in your present job. But, it’s important that a serious entrepreneur dissects between perceptions and unbiased reviews. Bring yourself from dreaming state to sobriety. Check every opinion and advice that you get.
- If you are going to do the same type of job that you are doing now, then what is the point of leaving such a good job and company.
In my case it was marketing. Marketing is my forte. I was doing that in my previous company and my start-up was based on same genre. Listening to this, my papa got so perplexed that why I would study in India’s premier institution, get a wonderful job and then leave it to do what I am already doing. To him, I was leaving a steady paycheck to do the same work for nothing. To him, I was leaving 25 years old stable company, to work for a company yet to be born. To him, I was letting go off seven figure salary to get nothing in return for at least first three months of the start-up.
But, to me, I was moving from getting orders to giving orders in a field I love. To me, I was leaving 25 year old company to bring my vision of a company to reality which will be quite ahead of times. To me, I was letting go off seven figure salary to earn job satisfaction and an opportunity for reskilling, to stay relevant in changing times when jobs will be less and takers will be more.
Parents don’t see from these angles because they don’t want their children to get hurt. They don’t realize that they want to send their children to scramble for a piece of the PIE for whose piece the whole world is scrambling for.
My dad still fears that my start-up might fail one day. But mind me, only failures will help you win. Next day, I called my neighbor and told him- It won’t matter if you discourage your son. If he truly wants to become an entrepreneur, he will and you won’t be able to do much. So, you might as well let him explore his opportunities.
Parents Don’t teach your kid lessons in something they don’t get even after numerous efforts. If they are good at something, give them training in that.
Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t a straightforward journey. Ask yourself, do you have the strength to crawl through shit to come clean on the other end? Choose your targets and goals which truly inspire you, not just for the sake of Papa Kehte Hain!