May Roundup + Building Confidence as an Entrepreneur

We had a busy May at The Indian Dream.

In addition to our main podcast and newsletter, we also launched a Gaana Exclusive Podcast called ‘Ye Hai Dhande Ki Baat’ which covers the journey of SME founders - in Hindi. We already have 5 episodes:

  1. Ferns n Petals - Riveting story on how one can start from nothing to build India’s largest Floral franchise.

  2. Jiva Ayurveda - The story of India’s largest Ayurvedic services business.

  3. Landcraft Agro - We go deep into the economics of hydroponics & aquaponics.

  4. LNM Auto - Share this story with your parent who refuses to retire from their job or business. Sandeep Mall built a self-sustaining business and now spends his time pursuing his passions.

  5. GlassCo Labs - 100+ crores business just making Lab Equipment. Riches are in the niches.

YouTube Experiment

We also did a YouTube experiment throughout May where we uploaded YouTube videos everyday for 30 days. You can read the whole experience here.

Live Session about No Code for SME Entrepreneurs

We also did a live session on ‘No Code for Non Tech Founders’. You can see the retention for the session was pretty good until we started Questions & Answers. You can watch the session here - we uploaded it to YouTube - it’s missing the first 3 minutes.

Once a month we’ll share our own personal stories on our journey to becoming better entrepreneurs. This is the second article in that series - the first one was ‘Optimise for Joy & Love’.

Building Confidence as an Entrepreneur & Learning to Take Risks

The Context

I had just visited the most beautiful flat I had ever seen and it was selling for far below the market rates in Bombay. I wanted to buy it.

My wife and I could have made it work but it would have stretched our finances to the absolute limit - the monthly EMI's would have become a big burden on our minds. All our travel plans would have to be put on hold for a few years, we would have to start budgeting everything very tightly and stop eating out.

We had a big decision to make and we discussed it for many many hours. I looked at this decision as a risk that I'm taking. 

And because of that, I thought that the best person to talk to would be the biggest risk taker that I know - Akhilesh Bhargava. We spoke to Akhilesh about risk-taking in our first ever episode of The Indian Dream.

I fully expected Akhilesh to tell me to take the debt because it would light a fire under my ass to go all out in my business over the next 10 years. I called him because I wanted to take that debt and buy that house - I was looking for validation.

Instead, he said the complete opposite. He said that I need to invest in myself - investing in this asset would slow down my ambition to grow my wealth over the long run. I needed to unleash the inner entrepreneur in me.

There was one line that he said that stuck with me

As an entrepreneur, I am confident that I can always make more money

As an entrepreneur, I am NOT confident that I can always make more money. I am far more conservative about my abilities than Akhilesh. 

This got me thinking - Why does Akhilesh have that confidence in himself but I do not? It had to be more than just age.

How do I build confidence in my own ability to make money as entrepreneur?

Building Confidence

Right after I spoke to Akhilesh, I listened to this podcast epiosde of 'The Knowledge Project' with Angela Duckworth - author of the great book 'Grit'. During the interview, Angela talks about building confidence in children and says (I'm paraphrasing) - 

To build confidence in children - you have to challenge them. They have to go through challenges that are just big enough that they can overcome them and be confident in their own abilities in the future. 

I've definitely lived an easy life without too many challenges. The biggest challenge I faced was when I was 15 and sent to Denmark for a year as an exchange student. I didn't know a single person, the language, the culture, the food, the weather or anything else about the experiences I would face over the next 1 year. 

This experience moulded me from a low confidence, shy person who couldn't talk to people to someone who was totally confident in their abilities to face uncomfortable circumstances. As a result, in my 20's I actively sought out experiences that were as uncomfortable and far from the norm as possible.

Building Confidence as an Entrepreneur

Nowhere in this journey did I build my confidence as an entrepreneur. 

Akhilesh built his confidence by taking his business from 3cr to 250cr in revenue. My father inherited his business at at a young age and built it up from scratch. He's confident in his own abilities because of this crucible he passed. 

Even my wife is building her confidence as an entrepreneur because she's started from scratch. 

I haven't had to pass through these crucibles yet. I've taken on minor entrepreneurial challenges and passed them but none of them had any risks. The entrepreneurial challenges at my family business always had the safety net of the organisation. We've earned a small amount of money at TID from scratch but we've never invested too much money - there was really nothing to lose in case of failure.

So how do I go ahead and build this confidence?

  • Do I take bigger risks and challenges at work?

  • Do I invest money into TID and try to grow that as fast as possible?

Thinking through this - I see the benefits of encouraging entrepreneurship in teenagers and young adults. If you've tried and succeeded (or failed) at businesses when you're 18, you're going to go through a lot of challenges which will build your confidence for the future. 

When I was 18, I helped a friend build a cookie delivery business and this experience gave her the confidence to build a food business in her 20's. This business now does millions of dollars of revenue. 

Taking risks, trying hard, passing through challenges, failing at times - this is what's going to take me forward. 

I need to think bigger. I need to think long term. I need to challenge myself more. I shared this piece with some of my older entrepreneur friends and one of them wrote back with:

War can be won by josh and hosh. But with only hosh there is 90% chance of losing and with only josh 90% there is chance of winning.

In life to win I feel we need mixtures of both.

This is my experience.

Let’s build the josh!