We are back in the days and times of the Mahabharata.
It was then that Abhimanyu found himself in the midst of the Chakravyuha set up by his step brothers, uncles and teachers. This was family against family, trying to wrest from each other whatever wealth could be amassed. And now is the age that founders of startups find themselves pitted against each other, vying for the attention and blessings of innumerable venture capitalists, desperately finding ways to gain that coveted funding which it seems is steadily becoming a rare commodity. Or perhaps a commodity that seems to be the privilege of a select few.
From the surge in investment money that shone upon startup organizations in the recent past, there has been a slowing down that is being felt by most standing in the queue for this prized possession. Most reminisce how easy it was to kick off their initiative with their limited initial funding. But lo and behold they now find themselves in a situation that regardless of the quality, utility or perceived necessity of their product, places them in the pervasive dilemma of “to be or not to be”.
This was exactly where Abhimanyu found himself all those many years ago…”to be or not to be”…enter the Chakravyuha or stay outside and see his entire family and army perish.
He made that difficult choice to enter into the labyrinth, knowing fully well that he may not be able to fight his way out. And that is exactly what happened. He could not find his way out, entrapped and ensnared by those very people he had grown up in front of, who were to be his family, friends and protectors.
And this is akin to the space that many startup founders find themselves in as well. You’ve entered the labyrinth and the rigmarole of making it work, of ensuring that you move from one day to the next, putting those thoughts of giving up and giving in to the deeper recesses of your mind, channelizing that often dwindling energy to find more options and alternatives. But keeping up this charade of constant positivity and hopefulness is most certainly adding to your chagrin.
However, you need to eclipse from being the Abhimanyu of Mahabharata to the Arjuna, who with his guide and mentor in Lord Krishna, his sarathi had determine what he needs to do and the modalities of getting to his end goal even if it meant going against some of his ideals in the pursuit of the larger good.
This translates into finding your mentor and guide in the days and times of today. Losing clarity of thought and what needs to be done can be a natural fallout of the experiences of going back and forth, not reaching your end goal and facing rejections in the work you do. It is possible that the first idea you had did not translate into that billion dollar product which would have instantly propelled you into the category of the Mark Cuban’s and the Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s of this world.
So what you need then is someone who can be your beacon of light to push you in the direction of reaching your true and full potential. A mentor would suggest, guide and direct in a way that allows you to question what you are doing and also highlight what needs to be focused on.
Finding a mentor is one step in the right direction but the next step is to find the right advisors for your startup. Having individuals in place who have the right knowledge and grip on the field in which you work in an essential aspect of being able to brainstorm and run your ideas past people who will be able to know and understand where you are coming from and what you want to do.
You should consider getting a diverse team in place. You would be surprised but diversity in the founding team of a startup has been known to create greater opportunities, growth and profitability of startups. Why this is so? It links to the fact that individuals of different genders, with a different set of experiences and expertise, bring in their unique perspective into the workplace which can be an asset and provide for greater variability in the ideas and ways of doing things.
Openness to criticism and feedback on what you are doing is a skill of great value. This can be a rather difficult one, since the day you started out as an entrepreneur and founder of your startup you decided to trust your gut and go with the ideas you thought had great value and appeal. But you would be surprised that the world around you may not always appreciate and value what you are doing. Your preparedness to accept feedback, utilize it and develop your ideas is a skill that would always hold you in good stead.
This being said do not lose hope and don’t give up or give in to the pressures of working in this difficult space. The startup industry is not an easy one to be in but if you are already in it then trust yourself and your ideas. If one doesn’t work out another will. But persevering with your ideas and your work is going to be critical to your success in the future.
Finally I would place significant value on the relationships that you harness both internally within your startup and externally with your business developers, clients and funders. Relationship building is crucial to success and those who are able to build this side of their personality are known to do well in their area of expertise.
Breaking through the Chakravyuha is not easy. It requires great skill, perseverance and knowledge. Building on these quintessential skills is a source of great support to entrepreneurs in the long run.