Are you an Indian entrepreneur scrounging the likes of Forbes, The economist to eke out some much needed business strategies and entrepreneur ideas to better run your company? Look no further than your bookshelf! For some vital lessons which can prove to be vital cogs in your entrepreneurial juggernaut you so desire, are hidden in the Mahabharata.
Well not so much hidden as staring outright in your face, as the whole intention of the classic epic which has survived several millennia, was to teach all sorts of lessons, moral and social alike, to persons from all walks of life. And that means even you, an entrepreneur can derive all sorts of lessons from it, gain all sorts of entrepreneur ideas which can prove to be more than adequate in helping you shape your successful enterprise.
1. Unity is Strength
This is one of the most important entrepreneur ideas that anyone can derive from the Mahabharata. A closer look at the Pandavas reveals that in spite of being outnumbered by a large margin by the Kauravas, they managed to thwart, and conquer them. Not that it was smooth sailing for them all along.
Not at all. Their journey was riddled with hardships, and they endured years of mockery and humiliation at the hands of the Kauravas, and yet they never let their belief in one another dwindle. They were united till the very end and now we know them for the victors, that they eventually became.
Just like them, no matter how big a company you are pitted against, if you have confidence in your other board members and that trust is reciprocated, you can be sure that you are en route to success. As the old saying goes “United we conquer. Divided we fall.” Amongst many other entrepreneur ideas hidden in the legend, this one teaches us an imperative lesson of standing by each other against all odds.
2. Half Baked Knowledge never helps
This is for all you start-up enthusiasts out there. How many times have we been someone with an idealistic mind trying to start their own business venture and fail miserably at that, covering them head to toe with losses? “The stock market wasn’t stable.” “The real estate has slowed down.” “The food market is totally unpredictable.” We hear one excuse after another, being thrown about as if this was something that could happen to anybody.
After all one might argue that business as a whole is one, big risky affair. But is it? Take the case of Abhimanyu from the Mahabharata. Well trained in the use of arms, and warfare, well built, talented enough to commandeer a portion of the army, he was everything a father would want his 16 year old son to be. But only Arjuna knew the pain he had to go through when he saw the ravaged body of his son, lying in tatters in the battle field. So what did go wrong?
Legend has it, that when Abhimanyu was confined to the womb of his mother Draupathi, she was talking to Lord Krishna. He was talking to her about the Padmavyuha formation that the Kauravas had incorporated, and how it was effectively a maze, such that it engulfs anyone entering it and traps them there forever. He then proceeds to let her in on the secret on how to enter and exit the maze. Meanwhile Draupadi, a tad too exhausted from hearing all the battle strategies falls asleep right after Krishna finished telling her how to enter the maze and didn’t hear one bit about how to exit.
But here’s the catch! Little Abhimanyu had been listening all along, until his mother had fallen asleep. Sixteen years later, he had used this information to get into the maze. But alas, when he was continuously overwhelmed by wave after wave of Kauravas, he had no way of escape and eventually he fell, succumbing to his injuries.
The majority of people in this world are just like Abhinanyu, keeping our eyes and ears open to any half baked information that comes our way and making an impulsive jump at that! But look where that got him. So whenever you think your brain has come up with some out of the box entrepreneur ideas for a product or a venture, do take care to seek out every single piece of information you can find about it.
Be well informed. Never, ever make an impulsive decision based on something you heard last fortnight. You could end up just like Abhimanyu, or worse! You could end up penniless!
3. Never sign a blind contract
This can happen to the best of businessmen. Often, there comes a time in their lives when they are forced to sign a contract or agreement which they know will leave them in the dark, but they do sign it for “the company’s sake” or “for giving them their word.” If there’s one thing we have to understand about the Mahabharata it would be the plight of Bhisma.
The poor sod, he had to forgo a life filled with pleasure that is akin to the life of a king like him, just because he made a promise in haste to uphold his family name. I’m pretty sure had he’d have reconsidered if he had an afterthought of how big a promise he was about to make. If that can happen to the likes of Bhisma, that can surely happen to you!
Never go for a contract or promise without duly considering its repercussions. Even if you get an inkling of being left in the dark if go forward with a contract, don’t. Because like Bhisma, you don’t want to be sorry for it the rest of your life. This is again one of the most important entrepreneur ideas that can be learned from the ancient epic.
4. Don’t gamble with something you can’t afford to lose
We’ve heard it all the time. Business is a gamble, the one who takes the most risks, wins. I honestly can’t gather words to describe how contrived and so full of falsities the above statement is. Yes, agreed business is a gamble. But it isn’t any game of poker to go about flinging you chips, whenever you want.
Business is an intelligent gamble. Sometimes it clicks, sometimes it doesn’t. But if you ask any astute businessman I’m sure he’ll say that if played the right way, there won’t be anything as sure footed as business. Yes, sometimes the noose around the neck does tend to get a little tighter. You are made to put at risk your properties, your assets as collateral for a loan. Do it. But never do it if you feel that it isn’t worth the risk.
There have been entire families destroyed under the pretext of a failed business. Putting your business, your company at risk is one thing, but putting the future of your family, people you love is entirely another! Look what happened to the Pandavas and where unbounded gambling got them. They were left in tatters and had to flee the country that they once ruled to save their lives. They were driven to such a measly low.
You certainly won’t want to draw a parallel with the Pandavas in this regard. Sometimes we do the unexpected to implement some unique entrepreneur ideas. But remember if the stakes are too high, it is never too late to duck out. It’s better to be a coward than a loser!
5. Opportunity knocks only once
Every single person in this world, at some point or other in their life would, have rued the missing of an opportunity in their lives. So did Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas. According to legend, both Arjuna and Duryodhana had sought the help of Lord Krishna to aid them in the battle. As luck would have it Krishna was sleeping, and the first person to arrive there Duryodhan stood near near his head as he was full of pride and felt his place should be at the head of the sleeping Krishna. Arjuna arrived later and was full of humility, so decided to sit near Krishna’s feet. When Krishna got up the first person he saw was Arjuna, and he put forth a condition that Arjuna gets to talk to him first.
Arjuna did the unthinkable. Instead of demanding warriors and weapons, he asked Krishna’s help in his side, and wanted all his teachings and advices on condition that he never seek his aid in combat. Duryodhana on the other hand asked Krishna to give him control of his Dwarakian army. Krishna agreed, and ultimately he proved to be the difference between the two sides.
If Duryodhana had not missed this simple physical detail, who knows how the battle would have panned out! Not everything in life is going to be handed onto you on a gold platter. You have to make better sense of the opportunities around you, devise the best way to make proper use of them. Opportunity knocks only once, and many a times it is a very feeble knock indeed! So keeps your ears strained, and eyes open!
The Mahabharata is replete with many more such entrepreneurs ideas but the effectiveness of their practical applications in today’s scenario depends entirely on your approach and efforts.