To me, entrepreneurship is a dynamic manifestation of creating connected values with compassion; so I focus on creating connected values without worrying for my funding orientation.
When I started, after coming out of Sun Microsystems, I was not thinking about money as I was able to get some money by helping people who were using the product that I built at Sun. I did not know what it takes to build a company and more so, what it takes to build it in a constrained environment. In the meantime, I developed a passion for the bootstrapping model for building company. I created a community around it called “Bootstrap Bangalore”, it’s been 3 years we have been meeting every other Sunday at breakfast.
Later on, I was introduced to another powerful tool called “effectuation”. I attended a workshop conducted by Professor Saras Saraswathi. The effectuation principles are simple and empowers bootstrapped companies more meaningfully. This has become a language for me to express my business model. The effectual principles help an aspiring entrepreneur to bootstrap quickly. It also makes it easy to navigate the future, which is unknown.
Fear is a constraint, and at times, courage can become a constraint as well. Starting with what was available to me when I begun (and acting on it), has given me amazing new possibilities. Understanding my affordable loss allows me to be courageous or passive, as the situations demand. As a result, I don’t have the fear of failing; and if I do fail, I will be able to reassemble myself since the cost of failure is affordable.
Predicting the future is unnecessary. The future can be created or co-created without predicting it, if we have the ability to embrace surprises and adjust to a new situation. Sometimes, external funding could become a constraint for the entrepreneurs, and force them to predict and gamble in an unnatural manner, without an affordable framework in place.
Unnecessary courage and prediction without commitment does not enable freedom. When taking external funds, one should look deep to see whether the investor has the appetite or commitment to co-create the future, and therefore expanding affordable loss bracket. I don’t believe in a wave on my back, that’s just a feel good factor. I hate to go after an artificially created market without the commitment from the consumers. When customers don’t know what they want, they go slow and iterate to identify what they may need.
Taking external money eventually turns out to be expensive for any entrepreneur. If you can build and scale a company on revenue, there is nothing more satisfying than that; but in the same time if you must need to increase your affordable loss bracket, you can take external funds to scale up. Don’t take money simply because your competitor is raising money. On the contrary, external money does not necessary mean you are loosing freedom, but if you take the money when you don’t need it, you will eventually compromise on your freedom.
As we talk, about models and funding orientations, I would also like to quickly touch another important subject. Sales is one of the most critical challenges for any entrepreneur, and especially the bootstrapped ones. I was very fortunate to interact with sales gurus like Deepak Prakash (Former VP Tally), who helped me to understand yet another simple thing – don’t sell; demonstrate what you have or what you can do; if you are solving someone’s problem they will buy. And that has worked for us.
Finally, the best way to build a business without depending on external money is to seek commitment from the customers – sell it before you build it. Be open, and allow others to help you in co-creating a company/product. Collaborate to create connected values. Again follow the first principle of effectuation, do what you can do now, without depending on others, look for participation from there on. Freedom is in your hand and it’s up to you make that choice.
Enjoy the freedom of creating value, that can bring impact and meaningful change.
Hope you had a wonderful Independence Day!! Let’s celebrate the freedom throughout the year and reimagine a “Start-Up India”, “Stand-Up India”. Jai Hind !!
By Ahimanikya Satapathy, assisted by my daughter, Adya Satapathy