Lessons learnt as a first-generation Entrepreneur


Every morning Deepak gets up at 6:30 AM and gets into his daily ritual of quickly picking up his newspaper, a swift glance through the headlines with a morning cup of tea and then another hour in the shower before he emerges to have breakfast with his wife and then he drops his wife to nearby telecom company and then he takes the 9:00am local train to his office in South Mumbai….He walks into the office at 10:00 AM and has some chitchat with his colleagues and glances through the “Mission Board” that has become a state of being for him and his colleagues like me whenever we step inside the office:

“We aspire to be the most Respected, Caring and Innovative Experiential Marketing Company in the world. It is our firm belief that if we care for our colleagues, their family and society, treat our partners with respect and understanding, adhere to the laws of the land in whichever country we operate, we would be able to deliver the best value for our clients and stakeholders. It is our conviction that such pursuit will create an environment of trust, harmony and excellence.”

This story is as much about Deepak and my other colleagues as it’s about me and my co-founders. Three years into the business with some awards, few wins and few losses, it has been an interesting journey so far – a rollercoaster of a ride but a ride which I would want to take up again and again. I thought it would be a useful reminder for myself to pick out the top 15 lessons I’ve learned during the last 3 years. I hope it might be useful and interesting for some of you too, who have taken this plunge for the unknown shedding that white collar corporate job and that high flying career or started straight out of college as a green horn after all we are sailing in the same boat.

  1. It’s not about WHO you know but WHAT you know and WHERE and HOW you can make a difference – The first Client who empaneled us as vendor are yet to do business with us while there are few Angel Clients who trusted us and brought us more clients by
  1. Regardless of how brilliant or “Out of the box” is your idea or strategy, it has little value if not adopted and implemented, so be at it.


  1. Creativity and Innovation is born at the crossroad where freedom and passion meet create environment to foster Innovation.


  1. You may not have the money but if you have the right team with complementary qualities you can do wonders.


  1. Be Frugal- It’s not about that flashy car but about those extra pennies saved to get more resources.


  1. Do not hire a family member at least not when you are starting off –Your team will always respect that


  1. Think BIG, Set hairy and audacious goals but be humble and rooted to the ground.


  1. Let the same set of rules be applicable to everyone from CEO to the Janitor.


  1. Spend money wherever necessary and hire the best like Attorney, Auditors and HR advisors.


  1. Follow the law of the land and pay your taxes right, adopt a CSR strategy even if it is not compulsory and be discreet yet true to it.


  1. Have an interesting story to tell about your business, as your company grows this becomes the virtual DNA something that your future employees identifies with.


  1. Learn early on to let go of some responsibilities and delegate better to others, these gives you time to look at the forest rather than the tree.


  1. Tell everyone and anyone about your business. Promote it however you can. Barter, trade makes deals. Your business won’t grow if you don’t talk. I still remember I talked to strangers on flight and some of those people are still my friends.


  1. Have a written Business Plan, Processes, Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) and follow them but discount for flexibility sometimes.


  1. Celebrate “Failure,” make them into milestone, give them space in your “history wall” along with the successes. One day you will be thanking yourself for it.

These are few of my list, they are not exhaustive neither they are the gospels as each entrepreneurial journey is unique and shaped as much by the entrepreneur and his/her dream what makes this journey so captivating for us is creation of something more valuable that ourselves….Something which remains even when we are gone.

Prateek N Kumar
CEO & Managing Director, NeoNiche