Whiz kid’s ideas on entrepreneurship

10 Oct

I have started my MSc Decision Sciences degree at the London School of Economics this week and one of the great things about LSE is that it attracts a wide range of remarkable speakers who come and give public lectures on the campus. I have missed out on Kofi Annan but managed to attend Gurbaksh Chahal’s lecture. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and by the time he was 25 he built and sold two companies worth over $340 million dollars in total. Being now slightly over thirty, he’s now building a third one, already valued at over $500 million. Here are some of his ideas on entrepreneurship I particularly liked.

Entrepreneurship is like a roller coaster,
it has its ups and downs
but it is your choice
to scream or enjoy the ride.

The idea is 1%, execution is 99%
I really like this one. Many people have great ideas, but they never get down to realising them. Some people guard their idea, afraid somebody would steal it. I think that sharing your ideas with others can open you many unknown doors and provide you with valuable feedback and help with execution.

Culture is everything
Gurbaksh argued that the first 15 to 20 people you hire will define DNA of the whole organization which will in turn determine if the company will remain a small one or will grow successfully. One bad hire not dealt with quickly can destroy the company – so he recommended us that if we make a hiring mistake, it is OK to fire the person the first week or even the first day.

Grow a thick skin, a very thick skin
People will intentionally or unintentionally question your ability to succeed. You need to get over it and not get put down by it. Ignore it; create your own reality (this was coming up a lot also in Steve Job’s biography I was writing about some time back – he called it distorted reality – you persuade people around you that impossible is possible until it becomes reality). He encouraged us to overcome any fear or insecurities we might have and just get on with things, keep trying and learning from what we do.

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