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What makes an entrepreneur?

Always be open to opportunities and lookout for the gaps in society, become a catalyst and find solutions to problems.

Bikram Dasgupta |

If you want to do it your way the first thing you do is answer the question “what is it that you want to do with yourself in your life?” Are you happy with a structured work environment, doing your work religiously, getting a decent salary, getting promotions, going for one European holiday a year and lead a life which is full of mediocracy?

Or, are you a bundle of energy, you want to discover yourself, you want to be a catalyst for youngsters and give solutions to problems faced by society? If your answer is the latter, that is the start of you entrepreneurial journey — the journey of you doing it your way.

So, who is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is a person who identifies a gap existent in this society, which is inconveniencing so many people in their day to day life but they have come to accept it. Life can go on apparently with that gap. But, will be so much better if that gap is bridged. I saw the IT industry of India since its infancy first at HCL and PCL, then when I built Infinity, the first IT Park by the 1990s India started ferrying software engineers to prime offshore locations in the US and UK.

There was a spurt of institutes that trained graduates in information technology including programming techniques. In the midst of all this, I saw gaps in the fast-evolving software industry. I clung to my view that mass training unsupported by appropriate pedagogical interventions diluted the very essence of creating truly “industry ready” professionals and setup India’s first and perhaps only software finishing school till date.

Always be open to opportunities and lookout for the gaps in the society, become a catalyst to them and give solutions to problems faced by them. I would like to share a learning that I got very early on in my career and has played an important role in shaping my career.

When I had just joined my first job at Indian Oxygen Limited, AK Bhattacharya, regional manager (South) called me into his chamber and said, “If you come to office on time; if you are diligent in your work; if you build excellent relationships with your peers and are respectful towards your seniors; if you meet your targets; if you work hard and smart and comply with the ethos of the company,’ he paused as he added sonorously, ‘Please note that you have done the bare minimum.’ It is what you do beyond is what will count for your growth.” It was a phenomenal piece of advice to have been privy to, at the start of a career, one that has stayed back with me over the years.

Work will always be there, but what you do beyond it not only defines your personal growth, but also helps you building connections and a rapport with people. Having a hobby increases your creativity and skills, if your hobby is in line with the work you do. Theatre for me was that hobby. I not only love seeing plays, but also acted in and directed a number of them.

I have been involved in staging plays since my IIT days and also joined The Bengali Association Club at Vizag during the 1970s. You must develop one such hobby like singing, dancing, sports, cooking, etc, so that there is a value addition to your personality. Your hobby gives you something to live in your life beyond your work.

Good friends not only help, guide and support you at every stage of life but also give you emotional support, help you during difficult times and make you feel special. I am fortunate to have wonderful friends all through my life.

Over the years I have understood how these friendships have greatly impacted my career. As I sit and write this, I still have some very close friends from my IIT days who have contributed in the development of my entrepreneurial life, inadvertently and continuously.

I have always gone back to them not just because of friendship but because the value they added to me as an entrepreneur.

You should always be keen on making friends and these friendships should blossom from the most unexpected situations. During my early days at Vizag I went to a restaurant named Pink Elephant.

Soon I found myself talking to the youthful and exuberant owner of the restaurant, Sohan Hatangadi, and we have been best friends ever since and even attended the unveiling of my memoire earlier this year.

The writer is founder & executive chairman, Globsyn Group