Monday, November 30, 2015

Approaching 2016

In a lot of ways, 2015 was a year of waiting for me. Two years of bootstrapping to get the business off the ground took a heavy toll on my finances and me, and towards the end of 2014, I resolved to step back and go back to employment, which I did. The last several months was just that, of keeping my head down, and of reflecting on the experiences. It was time to come to terms with failure and re-imagining. This was what 2015 was about, and I feel I have been successful at doing this. However, with 2016 around the corner, it is time to put a plan in place.

Indeed, one of the key lessons that I have learned through the start-up and bust is the limits of romanticism about start-up life. One of the key mistakes I committed in U-Aspire was to ask and raise too little money, and spending inordinately long time in raising that money. I should say I should have known this all along, but the truth is, I did know and I still took the risk, rather foolishly, as it turns out at the hindsight.  The lesson I take away from all this is not to try to be in the market to raise seed money. Next time, if and when I have a good idea, I should rather be able to fund it myself or not do it at all. 

So, I have settled to the relatively boring idea of pursuing a professional career all over again. When I came to UK in 2004, this was what I pursued at the beginning, moving up the job food chain step by step and pursuing professional qualifications to support that advancement. This is the other thing I gathered through this year of reflection - that it is time to go back being an entrepreneur-manager! This is a sort of acknowledgement that, perhaps, I have been trying to do too much simultaneously - settle in a new country, build a new identity, support a family and at the same time, trying to build a new business. It is time for me to focus back on my marketable skills, things that people would pay me for.

In my return to pragmatism, the other key issue is settling the issue of residency in my mind. For too long, since my mothers death in 2006, I have continually wavered on where I should live, returning to the issue of Return all too often. While this has kept me interested and engaged in India, this was problematic in career terms. I needed to make up my mind, even if this was only for a specific period of time. Again, this may seem obvious, but I had to make my mistakes to learn it. I settled  that I would live in the UK till at least the end of 2019. This was a significant decision in terms of my current work too, and I had to talk to my colleagues about it clearly. But, with this conversation behind me, I approach 2016 knowing where I would live, which makes things much easier for you.

Also, I spent most of 2015 on the road. This was enormously valuable, but I was resenting it while I was doing it. At this point, however, I feel somewhat equanimous, having resolved to go back being an entrepreneur-manager all over again. Indeed, I still consider my current work stop-gap, given its limited mandate and loose engagement, and want to move on to something more significant soon, but my resentment to travel is over. Rather, I see the international work as one of my key strengths - I possess familiarity with global cultures, wide range of acquaintances and business contacts all over the world and ability to engage respectfully with other cultures - and would want to do more of it. 

This is, in a way, a confession of a repentant start-up founder. Alternately, one could see this as a thing that I attempt to do all that often - make new beginnings. My agenda is to make 2016 count in a conventional sense, and this new beginning, in my mind, is absolutely essential for that. This is one of those notes to myself (and those few friends who I am in constant conversation with) that I need to change things, dramatically and drastically, soon.  


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