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Last updated: April 10, 2010 at 15:32 pm

Startup Saturday: Experience Vs Risk!

exp vs risk

If you ask any successful person his/her reason for being successful, 99 out of 100 would answer experience as one of the most common reasons. Not many would say that risk taking capability has make them successful, though if asked no one would deny that. But there are some genius or super-lucky people like Mark Zuckerberg who reach pinnacle of their career without actually gaining much from their experience. It’s majorly the risk taking capability combined with some other important factors which makes them successful.

The conclusion- You can be successful with or without gaining ‘experience’ but never without taking ‘risks’.

For any wannabe entrepreneur this is one of the most challenging questions- whether to take risk right now or gain some experience before taking the leap? My ‘experience’ has taught me that experience can be gained in several aspects of life which may or may not be directly related to the idea which we are trying to implement.

If you think that the idea which you want to implement is at least 90% ‘directly’ related to your current work, then you can choose to gain more experience before deciding to take the leap, otherwise not!

What I mean by ‘directly related’ here? Let me give you a simple example – if you want to start an online business and you work for an IT biggie then your work is 100% related to your idea but not directly. Because the experience you are gaining there is completely opposite of what you’ll face while starting up. No AC office, no SAP to manage (almost all) your official tasks, no costly software, no free telephone facility and worse no direct Client handling experience or core coding experience.
In such case there is only one thing you are gaining for your startup- money! As soon as you save the money you think will be required to startup, simply quit! Otherwise in this – Experience Vs Risk fight – experience will always win!

I have firmly started believing that young students from Colleges should join startups more often than choosing any big corporate. This risk if students  take early in their career will ensure that they gain ‘right’ experience and would help them a lot in deciding their future path. Big corporate put students in a very safe kind of environment which further hinders the chances of taking any risk.

I have seen people who started their career in startups, choosing ‘risk’ to ‘money’ and were graciously excepted later by big companies with a better package and higher position.

The point is you’ll never lose the opportunity to work for such big firms, whether you start low or high in your career -But if you start high your chances of taking risks will decrease and that may not be good for you in case you aspire to reach that pinnacle of success :).

What’s your say on this?



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  • Most college going grads aims for secured jobs in Big MNCs .. that’s where foundation fails … As it clearly mentioned … Experience will automatically be enhanced If Risk should be priority in initial stage … Money never starts an idea. It is always the idea that starts the money.

  • Let not talk about big names like Marc Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, etc. but about common situations. I have seen that start-ups fail not because they lack technical skills, but because they fail to market successfully. People get involved so much in the technical part that business part is almost non-existent. Passion, risk, experience are all intangible terms. Not all experienced people succeed. Not all passionate people make money. These are quite over-rated things as compared to a few things that are not commonly spoken of. More often than not, people want to try out “something totally new” instead of just doing something for which there already exists a definite market. Is there anything wrong in offering the same service/product which is offered by 5 other people? The common evergeen excuse is that ‘the market is saturated with sellers’. Isn’t it a surprise that inspite of being over-saturated, majority of the startups lose money? Many people never realize that there is a passive component in business growth that plays quite a dominant role. Also, why do startups by IITians, IIMs get so much importance? Being well-qualified these people have easy access to capital circles. Why don’t they try an put a average middle-class youth with no business background instead and talk the startup wisdom?

  • I completely agree with the disadvantages college graduates face by going after big pay checks and large cos, because most of my role models have showed me that working for money will never make you rich, they’ll only learn to work their ass off for their entire life for bonuses, pay hikes and promotions.Excellent post – and I am in complete agreement.

  • Wonderful post Rabi!! Usually in the industrial age which is considered to have ended after the fall of Berlin wall, people considered to have enough experience before taking risks, this was fine back then because most people had no source of funding other than their own earnings, which would come to them while they gain the initial experience, but in the current information age most successful entrepreneurs believe in taking risks to gain experience. Most youngsters still lack this attitude, but I feel its slowly developing among them. As far as Mark Zuckerberg is concerned, you cant give his story as an example because he didn’t face much risks compared to other entrepreneurs in different fields, he already had a steady flow of cash and a hell lot of virtual assets before getting incorporated, these are few of the advantages which most internet entrepreneurs get to enjoy. I completely agree with the disadvantages college graduates face by going after big pay checks and large cos, because most of my role models have showed me that working for money will never make you rich, they’ll only learn to work their ass off for their entire life for bonuses, pay hikes and promotions.

  • Rabi, Excellent post – and I am in complete agreement with your point of view. One reason, why entrepreneurship has not take off in India, is also because of our society does not allow an individual to take Risk – Take the safe path and live happily is mantra . Having said that, there is definite change over past decade and there are lot more startups around now.

    • @abdul not just passion, infact there are other imp things too. but this posts focuses on exp and risk. @arun, vishal and rockon Thanks. @rohan. very good perspective, I agree that a saturated market is nvr a hindrance to enter into market untill there is a service which is really solving the problem in a great way! But trying something new or not is also a tangible term, people can succeed while creating a new product or solving an existing problem, what matters here is execution. Also, if a product is great is doesn’t matter whether you’re an IITian or not. Yes, initially it will be easy to get access to resources, money etc but in longer run everything again singles out to execution. But my post was not written with this viewpoint, may be we can have another post on this topic soon :)

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