I attended a wonderful talk by Karan Bilimoria this evening at the Enterprise Tuesday series offered in Cambridge. He is founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, created in 1989 as “a brew that goes well with curry”. He talked about the setbacks the company has suffered along the way, and the role that integrity ad relationships played in the recoveries. Some mistakes were unavoidable, others were hubris or naivety, but it resonated because we all hit them and have to solve them.
As we approach market, I can see a whole new thicket of challenges looming, from the day his customers turned against them to the times that the money almost ran out.
He summarized with a list that I really liked, originally from Matthew Rock, a checklist for the qualities that it takes to successfully start a new business. Some make me smile, others are rueful truths, but it captures day-to-day life on the edge better than any other summary I’ve read.
- Implacable self-belief
- A single core technical skill or ability (it could be marketing, selling, or a specialist scientific capability)
- High resources of personal energy that enable you to work often brutal hours
- You will be unafraid, indeed relish, talking about money.
- You won’t sit on problems or difficult situations, you’d rather deal with them and get them out of the way
- At the right moment, you love to party.
- You will have something about you – call it charisma – that inspires loyalty in others
- You are fired by powerful competitive instincts, even anger, that drives you to win over your competitors.
- Personal resilience. Entrepreneurs will have setbacks. The true winners will absorb them, learn from them and rebound.
- They love what they do, at times at the expense of your family and friends
- And you really will believe that your business, product, service, is better than what’s come before or is offered in their market now (even when it patently isn’t!).