Entrepreneurs or Managers?

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July 12th, 2010 Lipi Mohapatra

Some time ago I had an intern working with me who always asked me if he should start his own business.

I don’t know why, but I would always find it difficult to give him a straight “yes” or “no”. The intern had the drive and the zeal. But somewhere he still questioned his own abilities to become an entrepreneur. Probably he would succeed, only if he didn’t have temporariness, frivolity.

But who decides what it takes to become an entrepreneur? The entrepreneur himself?

Sample this. Arvind Pani, a BTech from NIT Rourkela has had extensive experience working for various companies. Having seen the nature of the corporate ladder, Arvind was convinced that that was not the path he wanted to tread. Entrepreneurship was his childhood dream and he started his own initiative to make unique software products based company. In a short span of time his organisation, Reverie Technologies, has established credibility in a niche segment. In 2009, their firm made it to the final list of companies under the ‘Power of Ideas” initiative driven by The Economic Times. Their organisation is contributing significantly to certain standardisation initiatives for mobile phones in India where they are working closely with TRAI and COAI.

Pani says that for becoming an entrepreneur, there are 3 traits that are absolutely essential-

a)      Extremely high ability to take risks.

b)      Hatred for straight-jacketed and conventional thinking.

c)       Put one’s entrepreneurial mission and passion above everything else as No.1 priority; including prioritizing above one’s family.

Rest of the traits can be acquired. But without the above three traits, entrepreneurship can lead to a disaster.

True. An entrepreneur is on his own, with his ideas and his successes and rewards are his own too.

Mitul Rustagi, a very successful manager in corporate India and currently the Director-Business Development, Automotive Experience, India Johnson Controls India Private Limited  says a good manager is one who is definitely accountable - will deliver to all assigned tasks, meeting all expectations for the assigned  tasks.

However, a good manager, 80% of the time (by Pareto’s principle), may not be a good entrepreneur.

For being entrepreneur, Rustagi feels an individual needs to take a step ahead and be “responsible” for the entire gamut of business - deliver results that are essential for the business outside his assigned tasks, a fact Pani agrees to.

Every successful company would have a unique collection of these manager-cum-entrepreneurs. One would find that these people are very well aligned to the vision of the corporation and are the people moving very fast within the organisation.

Somewhere all those I spoke to feel entrepreneurial zeal is innate to a person, but can be learned. One of the reasons why IIM – Ahemedabad always encourages students to take up entrepreneurship as a career. Probably it is one of the very few campuses that allows students to take a career holiday so that they can try their hands at their own ventures. In case the students decide otherwise some time later, they can always come back to avail the placement facilities on campus.

The author is Director, IILM - Business School, Mathura Road, New Delhi

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5 Responses to “Entrepreneurs or Managers?”

  1. Diwakar Says:

    life z about making diffirence in the lives of millions of people,and entrepreneurship is the most preffered way to do the same,
    a manager works under an entrepreneur but have you ever seen an entrepreneur working under a manager,offcourse for successfull functioning of your venture you need managers,but finally its entrepreneur who take all the credit…and manager merely gets reward…

    a successfull entrepreneur get noticed across the globe and remembered forever…but a successfull manager?may be for max 1month or two month or sometimes..

  2. bs gupta Says:

    In response to Mitul Rustagi”s comments I would like to responsd as under.

    Manager’s job is to get things done for others for a remuneration. He is not responsible for the success or failure of the venture.

    In the case of small business owners, they not only take the risk of entering in to/ starting a new venture but they are also responsible to see that they always stay competitive and grow year after year. This will involve changing/ adjusting as per evolving business environment and therefore, it is not correct to infer that once they get in to it they never face any challanges and become just managers.

    Anyway thanks for his comments.

  3. Mitul Rustagi Says:

    In response to B.S. Gupta, I would like to go back to the basic definition of an entrepreneur.

    (a) Entrepreneurs are those who choose a level of personal, professional or financial risk to pursue an opportunity.

    (b) Once identified, they exploit the opportunity by organizing their resources effectively to accomplish an outcome that changes existing interactions within a given sector. In other words, entrepreneurs are actually innovators.

    In the examples you provide, to the extent people went into their preferred business, they took the necessary risk to show the basic entrepreneurial zeal. Immediately after - they just became managers - managing delivery to their customers, collecting money etc. etc., just doing the processes.

    If they went a step ahead, understanding the needs and pain points for their customers and implementing solutions for them, not only will they earn better, their business model would be sustainable and have a lower risk as compared to their counterparts delivering similar services.

  4. Christy Says:

    Women shud be encouraged to become entrepreneurs, right from their schooling days - even if it is a tiny, handicraft or micro business unit. This gives them the flexibility to be a home-maker as well as be on their own with regard to economic independence !

  5. bs gupta Says:

    Whenever we talk of entreprenurship, it is most of the time making it big in a corporate world.

    Why do we forget that a newspaper hawker is also an entreprenur. He takes risk of giving credit to so many households without any credibility/ financial status check. He runs the risk of losing money in case some one shifts his residence or leaves the house. So is the milkman, ironwalas etc.

    Then coming to the medium level so many in my organization have left the job and started their own business and they are happy if they earn at least equivalent to the salary they were getting. They are happy to be their own bosses, managing their own affairs, giving employment to 3/4 other lowly paid workers.

    Making big could be for some select individuals but encouraging educated youth to try their own ventures, howsoever small it may be, instead of rushing to the job market is the need of the hour.


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