I was recently reading an article on Entrepreneur.com on “Forget Unicorns. Startups Should Be Camels”. The article spoke about how “(Camels are) real, resilient and can survive in the harshest places on Earth”. This made me think about what entrepreneurship has meant for the last few generations and how that definition has changed in today’s tech start-up world.

Most of the news about start-ups that we have been reading in the media in recent years, has been focused on fund raising, growth in revenue and valuations. And while these are all important points in growing a business, my understanding of entrepreneurship has been a bit different. Entrepreneurship for me has always meant being willing to strive hard for years against all odds, being flexible on your business model, keeping costs low and being focused on building a sustainable business over years.

With a large number of venture capital firms for startups in India, funding is much easier to access than ever before, which is great for entrepreneurship. I’m myself a believer in the power of entrepreneurship in pushing boundaries and changing industries.

However, I’ve also met several aspiring entrepreneurs in recent years, who have got inspired by the media stories on unicorns and star entrepreneurs and decided to start a business. And while that is good, it is important to know that long-term sustainable businesses over the years have all somewhere been built on the same basics.

And these basics seem to get lost in a lot of discussions around Unicorns in the media today.

So, if you want to build a business that grows through good and bad times,
1. Ensure that you are meeting a core customer need.
2. Focus on conserving cash by keeping your expenses and cost to what is required.
3. Be innovative in how you acquire and retain customers.
4. Be willing to strive hard and realize that being an entrepreneur means striving against all odds.
5. Choose the right investor partner in India for your business, especially in the early stage.

And while we may look at these times as unprecedented, it may also be a time to re-evaluate your business model and put the right basics in place to build a long-term scalable business for years to come.

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