Too Early or Too Late

Think of a typical Sunday morning when you wake up at 6:45 am. Your first thought is “How did I get up without snoozing the alarm and how in the world am I feeling so refreshed? Why can’t I get out of the bed even at 7:15 am on weekdays?” With these thoughts, you make a conscious decision of sleeping in a bit more because why not! After all, it is a Sunday, right?

Now it’s past 11 in the morning and you’re still in bed (but at least you’re half-sitting now!). Three pillows are stacked behind your back, the split AC is blowing a cool breeze your way, and in your hand, you hold the key to the world – the TV remote. You are casually browsing through movie and infotainment channels but nothing grabs your attention there. 

Suddenly, your intellectual urge takes over and you switch to a business news channel. Yes! This is exactly what you were looking for. Interview with young entrepreneur Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO of OYO who started his career at the age of 17. 

Intrigue takes you over and you are soaked in this dreamlike story about how back-packing across the country and living in budget accommodations lead to the idea behind the hugely popular OYO rooms. You are fascinated by the journey of a man who thought of something innovative and made it work. Not only is he being acknowledged by the industry, but he’s also in a position where a celebrity anchor is interviewing him on a leading business channel.

Slowly, your appreciation starts turning into into hushed criticism. You get a feeling that you would’ve answered the questions better or you could’ve come up with a better business model if only you’d been there. Suddenly, envy takes over and you switch off the television, dismissing him and his achievements by putting it down to ‘sheer luck’.

The rest of your Sunday passes in a late lunch, evening tea, a chat with your family, a quick dash to the car wash, and whatnot. But that star entrepreneur hasn’t left your thoughts. You keep thinking about the time when you, too, could have also done something similar. Maybe not in the same space but you surely had an idea that could have been a potential winner. 

You remember how you and your friend used to work late nights to fine-tune that idea. However, people around you didn’t understand your concept or the potential behind it and said that it was ‘Too Early’ to give wings to it. And so, you shelved the idea to that elusive point in the future where the right time meets the right opportunity.

You also think of the umpteen times you rose in a conference hall and presented a well-made PPT which quoted Steve Jobs’ famous phrase ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’. Although the context was small and it focused on QTR’s targets and short-term strategic wins, you won many hearts by the fire in your voice. 

Now, these memories haunt you, reminding you of the zeal you had to mobilize things around you, which abandoned you over the course of time. And things are so different now. Somehow you find yourself at the end of the road where you realise that it’s ‘Too Late’ to start working on your idea.

So much time has passed and now you feel guilty for giving in to the fear of losing that one thing that we as individuals and family men value so much: ‘Stability’. This stability factor can be quite tricky as it stimulates a feeling of contentment while restricting you from being confident about new ideas and initiatives. Like you, many people have given up on their dreams because they feared losing the stability they’d spent years building.

Every time you think of accomplishing your own goals, your entire career flashes before your eyes. You started from scratch. Now, after years of toiling, making PPTs, training, meetings, deadlines, sending endless trail mails, and appearing for job interviews, you’ve earned a few things – your paycheck, designation, social status, cars, wealth, bank balance, and maybe more. Pursuing your dream means you will have to quit your job and put everything on the line.

Is it possible? Yes. Will you do it? Nope. Not at all.

You won’t do it because you feel that you are no longer oozing with raw energy and you have lost confidence in your risk-taking ability. But, why have you turned out to be like this? You were different. You were the ‘center of attraction’ of your entire team and the Go-to guy for your boss. You made mistakes but you didn’t fall apart. In fact, you learned from the mistakes and came out victorious.

You were going through a rollercoaster ride. Your 1st increment, the thrill of buying your 1st bike, a well-deserved promotion, fling at workplace, marriage, an exotic honeymoon, and the delightful experience of parenting kept you going. Life was on a roll and everything seemed right. Besides, all these things piled on and your dream got lost somewhere. These things became ‘something’ of your life and now, the thought of losing that ‘something’ is frightening. The fear of ‘starting again’ brings an uncomfortable churn to your belly. The worst part is that now you’ve realised that the best time to create something you were passionate about was when you had nothing.

Things coming full circle? Yeah!

If you’ve read this piece so far, it means that there is still some spark left. All is not lost and you have not given up. There are still some nights when you sit with your idea and chat on the possibilities. 

What to Do

Keep calm and start with the basics. It’s about time you structure your project.

To begin with, shake the fear of Losing that ‘Something’. Forget about your current designation and payscale. Sideline the ‘boss’ in you and start humble. Pick up a pen and paper and draft your ideas. It is you who created big business plans for the companies you worked for, just in case you forgot. Do the same for yourself and make a PPT on your business plan.

Secondly, Conduct Research and Gather information about the intricacies. It will help you focus on the right aspects. It can be vendors, suppliers, agencies, or even consultants. Schedule a meeting and understand what works for you. Do not forget about the regulatory requirements as these play a critical role in the initial phase of your project.

Next, Try and Utilize Social Media Platforms. Companies pay agencies for networking and brand promotion activities on social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Use these platforms to build your network and see how relevant individuals perceive your business idea. Who knows, your ideas may resonate with someone planning to do the same thing and you might find a business partner there. 

Lastly, Be Mindful about the Financial Aspect. Since you had never lost sight of your goal, you must’ve done some financial planning for your dream project. Even if you didn’t, don’t worry. Better late than never. Start keeping aside a fixed amount of money for your project, regularly! It might come in handy in a variety of situations. And don’t worry, you will have ample time to save money before you start the project.

What to Avoid

Having said that, there are a few things that you should avoid in ‘Quest for Success’ as well. This is more related to having a certain amount of clarity and confidence rather than the decision-making part.

You must have lucid thoughts about your idea and Not Planning an ‘Idea Suicide’ is one of them. If you are, stop comparing your ‘idea’ with others’. And never try to judge the viability of your idea by searching on Google. You will find close to 8K search results screaming that the market is already overcrowded with the same concept. You might feel mocked for being late to the game as the established players present their achievements in ways that can demotivate others even to start. And yes, do not discuss your idea with too many people. Especially not the ones without some expertise on the matter. This might confuse you and cloud your judgement.

Similarly, Keep your confidence high and don’t be Dismayed. Instead of feeling intimidated by the achievements of the established entrepreneurs, acknowledge their hard work which enabled them to create a market for upcoming players. It’s because of them, you can build a concept and think about innovation, uniqueness or quality. And as they say, ‘For every Lion in the jungle, there is a bigger Lion’. Claim your Idea, Claim the territory and get going.

Here is a thing that you should be aware of. Don’t Attract Unnecessary Attention by sharing your idea at your workplace. Your bosses may get confused about your priorities and you may lose a growth opportunity within the workplace. Besides, you cannot be entirely sure about your colleagues as they can also jeopardize your position in the company only to score a few brownie points.

Since you’ve already planned this much, be careful and Do Not Use the Funds You’ve Kept Aside Other than Emergencies. You may likely face hundreds of obstacles in your way but having a substantial amount of money at your side can save you from troubles. 

The fact of the matter is don’t lose sight of your goal. If you have dreams, then forge your way to fulfil those dreams as well. Maybe there are a few things that are ‘Too Early’ to start but there is nothing like ‘Too Late’ in your life.

This post was originally published at – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/too-early-late-jitendra-malhotra/

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