5 Intense Entrepreneurial Lessons From India’s Freedom Struggle
India fought against the Britishers, and gained its Independence. What does this teach?
Disrupt! Create value! Break the status quo! Set the market on fire! Deliver!
These are some of the modern day anthems for the entrepreneur, who is seeking to establish their startup in this age of cut-throat competition.
But long before Google and Facebook happened, a bunch of Indian freedom fighters dedicated their lives for India’s freedom struggle, and made sure that India gets independence from the Britishers.
No, it was not about term-sheets and profit-loss which motivated them, but no-compromise love and devotion towards our Motherland, which inspired them.
While gaining freedom from a superpower and launching a startup are two extreme things, there are few elements which are common to both the exercises.
Herein, we discuss those common lessons, which India’s freedom struggle teaches to all entrepreneurs:
Prepare For The Long Haul: Get The Vision Right
Britishers conquered India for a period of 200 years, starting with East India Company Rule in 1797, British Empire Rule in 1857 till 1947, when India gained its Independence.
Compared to this, India’s freedom struggle lasted for 90 years: Historians state that the period of struggle started from 1857, and ended in 1947.
Hence, for almost half the period of British Rule, we fought, we challenged, we sacrificed, and we hustled. When the freedom struggle started, did our ancestors knew that how long will it last?
No. But these persisted, with a single aim: India’s freedom.
Although modern-day entrepreneurs are powered with AI and Predictions, but still, no one can say when the goals will be achieved.
Prepare for the long haul, and this can only happen when you are sure of the goal.
Connect The Dots
Freedom struggle was a movement, which originated at several locations, ignited by various social and religious factors. While Mangal Pandey triggered the revolt of Indian soldiers employed by British, there was Puli Thevar, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, Rani Velu Nachiyar and several others, who ignited the flames of freedom struggle in different parts of the country during 18th and 19th century.
Even without Internet and mobiles during that time, the freedom struggle gained momentum as dots were connected and communities joined hands for a common goal.
Entrepreneurship, very similarly, is a movement and the entrepreneur is never working alone. He needs a team, along with the vision, and he needs partners and well-wishers.
Connecting the dots is one of the most crucial aspects: It was during freedom struggle and it is while making the business big.
Leadership Makes The Difference
As the freedom struggle matured and became organized with the inclusion of political parties such as Congress and Forward Bloc, leader emerged from all corners of the country.
Be it Mahatma Gandhi or Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai or Bal Gangadhar Tilak; Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose or Jawaharlal Nehru: Leaders inspired the masses, and inspired them to break the status-quo, challenge the rule of Britishers and to set themselves free.
In entrepreneurship as well, leadership is what differentiates between an average startup and a trend-setter.
Instead of being a manager, the entrepreneur needs to become a leader.
Communication Is Vital
There wasn’t any Internet or mobile phones during India’s freedom struggle: But still, words formed a bond and led the freedom fighters towards achieving their ultimate goal.
Magazines like The Indian Sociologist, pamphlets like Bande Mataram and Oh Martyrs! by Savarkar ignited that zeal and passion among freedom fighters, all over the nation.
Poets and writers united: Subramania Bharati, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Iqbal, Josh Malihabadi, Mohammad Ali Jouhar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote and shipped fiery speeches, articles and stories to motivate the freedom fighters.
Similarly, in this age of entrepreneurship, communication is vital. Although the medium to propagate a thought and idea has become easier (website, blogs, mobile phones, messenegrs), but the core remains tough: How to express the idea in the most meaningful way?
Again, vision and goal of the whole exercise is crucial, as without them, the communication will fail. The vision and objectives of freedom fighters were crystal clear, and this is the reason that even without Internet and smartphones, they united and fought against a common enemy.
Determination Is Bravery
If we ask Historians, about that single factor which made all the difference in India’s freedom struggle, then it will be sheer determination.
During World War 1, British had a massive army of 2 million soldiers, and India was their slaves. We didn’t had any military, and the freedom struggle was all chaos.
Then came Mahatma Gandhi with his vision of non-violence, and we suddenly had a superpower, which defeated the mighty Britishers.
Determination, persistence and goal were the foundation on which freedom fighters believed, and acted upon.
When you are launching your own startup, then the odds would be against. The default state of a startup is failure, but success is not impossible.
Determination is bravery: Whether it was India’s freedom struggle, or your startup.
Happy Independence Day to all!