May 18, 2005

Something Of Your Own

In setting something up of your own, there are a couple of major things involved: a) A good idea to work with b) Smart and dedicated people who can complement your strengths and make up for your weaknesses c) Someone to fund the entire operation d) The market opportunity, without which any good product/service can flop. The funny thing is that, other than for factors 'a' and 'd' there is not much else that I can claim to have and without the rest, my intention of starting out on my own is as good as dead in water, even before I can start on it. The thing is, once I am done with my current job, or after my next job, I have to find some way of getting my own show running.

The logic to all this is quite simple. I am not someone cut out for big firms and board rooms even if I were to be interested or qualified enough to aim for something like that. I like working with passion, putting my head down and getting things done, with the end-user kept in mind as the king. At the same time, the purely money making route -- of taking on enough consulting and itsy bitsy jobs and investing the money elsewhere to grow on its own -- would not be satisfying enough for me to justify keep going for a long enough time. It would get simply too boring. Lastly, I am a bit of control freak with a blistering pace when it comes to work. I need people around me who can challenge me, run with me and beat me at my game.

That said, I still have to figure out how to go about it. One way would be to approach one of the higher ups, or any other adequately moneyed private entity, try and sell the idea there, get it running and make away with a good enough slice of the proceeds if and when it succeeds and use it to start something else. Of course, this approach has its own major problems. Ideas are always easily copied, nicked and made one's own with a degree of ruthlessness attached to it that would put to shame even a hungry lion feasting on a fresh kill. It also depends a great deal on the standing and credibility of the person who makes the pitch. Do I have any standing other than my immediate working environment? Nopes, none at all.

Smart and dedicated people I have found, from my five years in the industry, are exceptionally hard to find. Successful small operations are run the best by people with excellent skills in multiple things. If finding them is hard enough, getting them to join you is an even more difficult task. After all, who would want to leave a secure job and start working in a dingy room, driven only by the grand visions of success which might never ever come your way? Moreover, as someone who starts something new off, you have to exude a certain level of confidence and passion that can see people through even the worst of times. Do I have any of that? Nopes, none at all.

Now comes the major issue called as market opportunity. Even the smallest of operations, save the consulting jobs, need at least a fair amount of stable and steady back office operations, without which any product will eventually fail. Irate clients/customers are a strict no, no and if the competition's lack of customer service is one of your major selling points, you better get this one right. Then you have to make it to the market with the right product. Which can still fail if you get to the market at the wrong time. Funky, lifestyle products, which don't feature on your list of primary, purchases don't normally tend to do well in times when the markets, employment and salaries are not soaring high. At least on this one, the time is more than right.

All of this are just thoughts on the surface level. Dig deeper and you can find other headaches like incorporation, taxes, licenses, distribution and the evil hands of the capital providers who will always want to have their money and more back at the earliest, which is ready and waiting to dissuade me. Even when all that is true, it is also a fact that I do need to give it a shot to see if it can be done. After all, I don't want to be like quite a few people I know: at age 32 and got nothing great to do. So they stick around playing petty politics and fiddling with petty ideas, wondering where all the good years and the good times have disappeared. Do I want that? No, never ever.