Forced Entrepreneurship ?

Amongst the elites of the blogosphere, this is a phrase used often, and usually somewhat condescendingly, to discount the efforts of those who run mom and pop stores and businesses, only, as the argument goes, because the they did not have a choice.


Yet one sees a whole bunch of of these "forced entrepreneurs" flourish, learn better than most "choice" entrepreneurs about managing cash flows, hiring, marketing, CRM, and even scaling. Sure - its not usually about 10x scale (though a few do turn out that way) but thats a very VC driven attribute, and entrepreneurship is defined by so much else.

A plumber whose service my wife employs for certain rainwater harvesting and water management projects they undertake is one example I've seen. The guy now has a bunch of other guys he's trained, manages, finds work for, supervises. He takes bottomline responsibility for the team, has printed business cards and invested into a van for transporting his team and material more efficiently. He's been known to go ahead and market the idea amongst potential customers. He's managed growth - both of his business and of his role. Sure, he was probably forced into this - but that has hardly stopped him from embracing entrepreneurship.

There's a couple of legendary tales of paan-wallahs who've built business empires from their vantage points, while continuing to humbly assemble the daily dose for customers. There are small grocers who've adopted the aisle format and setup chains without losing their USPs of delivery, cash on delivery and the personal touch they had when operating a single small store. They've obviously managed hiring very closely since that was key to the whole experience.

Darshinis which grew into large catering businesses. Tailors who now own brands. Local courier companies which now manage logistics for corporates across the country - there's just tons of examples.

In some sense, aren't techies who're "forced" into entrepreneurship because of circumstances - perhaps a stream of bad bosses and workplaces, or the peer pressure of everyone else around them striking out on their own - also "forced" into entrepreneurship ?

The point of this huge rant ? Its not important how you got there. What you did, learned and what you managed to make of it afterwards is. So next time you use "forced entrepreneur" dismissively, think again if there are lessons there that you could instead gain from.

Some references to "forced entrepreneurship":

http://www.swaroopch.com/blog/my-benchmark-for-entrepreneurship/#comment-130025
http://www.venturewoods.org/index.php/2009/01/21/state-of-innovation-perspectives/

And, from a different perspective (and continent) ...

http://steadyblogging.blogspot.com/2009/03/nyt-on-forced-entrepreneurship.html

3 comments:

marketnstocks said...

someone ever thinks that a work is smalll in enterprenuership ...he will never be an enterpreneur ..
i agree with u

Swaroop said...

For a moment, I thought the "elitist" being referred to was me (because of the link), what a sigh of relief that was not the case :)

Coming to the point, I agree with you that people should not dismiss this. They have achieved something, regardless of the circumstances. I think similar behavior applies to peoples' reactions about sons/daughters of rich people as well. Even if the sons have been really good at business and taken the business to the next level, people just dismiss it saying that he had the fortune of having a lucky father. Little do they think about how the sons did not just live off the money, but put it to work and made it bigger. That is work too.

But there will always be people who like to put others down. That's how it goes.

-- Swaroop
www.swaroopch.com

Swaroop said...

Err, I meant "lucky to have a rich father"