5 Lessons on Entrepreneurship I learned from my Parents
Growing up you never realize the kind of impact your upbringing may have on your professional personality. The things our parents tell us, teach us, try to engrain in our day to day living, are all somewhere part of the connected dots when we grow up. Sitting in my Startup (Living Local) office the other day, something made me think on the way I do certain things. Things like- the way I work, the manner in which I interact with my employees, the way I conduct myself around new associations and meetings and so on. Those things weren’t being done wrong or right. It’s just how did I got trained with some of these Entrepreneur characteristics without knowing when and how. I started to connect the dots of my life thus far. It took me back to my childhood. A lot of our characteristics or personality traits are built during the early years of our lives. And they are so true in my case as an entrepreneur today. Here are the 5 Lessons on Entrepreneurship I learned from my Parents during my growing years at home.
#1: Never waste food… Put only as much food on your plate as you need.
I am sure most parents teach the valuable lesson of not wasting anything. I was taught this lesson on the dining table when my Dad would say, “You got to finish what you have put on your plate”. Sometimes I found it hard as I couldn’t finish and had put more than anticipated or in excitement of my favorite dish. He later followed it up with “Put only as much food on your plate as you need. There are others (not as privileged) in the world who are without food.”
Today I understand the subtext beyond the context of wastage of food. As an entrepreneur with a Startup we are privileged with some resources (funds/ associations/ contacts/ employees etc.) to make a successful business out of it. If we use these resources more than their actual need, the wastage may result in depletion (eg. Funds) of some of the important ones. Even an employee is a resource and needs to be best utilized within the capacity and limits before tiring that resource, post that it is of no productive use. Every entrepreneur needs to use his or her resources within the needs of the Startup. No Wastage. Period.
#2: Ready your school shoes, uniform and backpack the night before.
Simply put… don’t leave things to be done at the last minute. Be prepared in advance. That’s what packing my backpack, setting up my uniform if it needed to be ironed etc. and polishing my school shoes the night before taught me.
A prepared entrepreneur not only has better chances of success but is also respected by the others for the planning and effort put in towards things to be done. It’s kind of like your checklist that you need to make everyday (preferably the night before) for things to do the next day so that it’s all ready to be executed without unplanned delays. I make my To-Do list for the next day the night before and that’s the first thing I have ready as a road-map of the day when I start my day at work. Keeps me efficient and on track.
#3: Make your own bed after you get up in the morning.
Today this habit makes me want to keep things in my professional space clean and in order. And most importantly- clean up after yourself. Chaotic and unkempt surroundings are a result of a chaotic mindset, which an entrepreneur cannot afford. We need to start the day in an orderly and clean fashion and for that we need to do it ourselves as a habit.
#4: First thing to do is offer Water.
When someone would come home, the first thing we were to do was offer a glass of water to whoever that person was. (It was back when people were not carrying their own Bisleri bottles in their cars.) Part of welcoming is getting them in a comfortable state without something (thirst) bothering them indirectly or unknowingly.
In the Entrepreneurial world, Water here is symbolic to making your customer or client comfortable. The first things are never about deals and negotiations or professional lingo flying. It’s always going to be human connect. And it’s human behavior to reciprocate kindness with kindness and that’s always a good starting point in any meeting. Especially if someone who has come to you then it starts from your end.
#5: What do you want to be?
“When you grow up, do you want to be- an Engineer? A Doctor? An architect?”, my parents asked. The least expected answer that they got from me-“I want to be an Actor”. I imagined it would be laughed at but to my surprise it was followed up with “Why do you want to be an actor?” I was prepared with the first answer very confidently but the unexpected follow-up question caught me off-guard. As a kid I just knew I wanted to be like Amitabh Bachchan but Why I never really gave a thought to except for the honest fact that I wanted to just be one like Mr. Bachchan (in the movies).
As an entrepreneur its pretty obvious you have something you want to achieve with your Startup. But I have realized there is an importance in the “Why” of what an entrepreneur wants to achieve. That is the driving force. It’s a long and testing journey for an entrepreneur. Whenever things get a little overwhelming we need to know WHY we got in it in the first place and keep on staying on the path of What we wanted to be – An Entrepreneur.