Executives or Entrepreneurs?

Executives or Entrepreneurs? The seemingly trivial question is creating quite a stir in the job market and the economy. Recruitment packages with starting salaries in the range of INR 50 lakh per annum, top positions in some of the world’s largest multinational companies, additional perks and a secured future- are all very lucrative for a fresh graduate. However, new ideas capable of bringing a new dimension, a vision different from the ordinary, the desire to experiment and bring about a change. And why just graduates? Today, there are people joining in from every segment of the society- ranging from high-profile corporate executives to teenagers to rural farmers.

Business managers are usually expected to work with established rules and procedures of the company employing them, developed over the years, for customers, suppliers and employees. And many of the skills they need can supposedly be taught, thus, paving the way for B-schools. Administrators are willing to take risks, but with calculated odds of success. They operate mainly within set guidelines and rely heavily on strategic planning. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are people who can identify unfulfilled needs and the means to fulfill them. They are willing to take big, incalculable risks to undertake newer ventures and bring in new goods and services providing enough competition in the market. Entrepreneurship can, and has, in the recent past, substantially lowered monopolisation of goods and reduced the market domination by certain groups. It also focuses on specialisation, unlike well-established firms which tend to be largely profit-oriented and hence, would diversify once they reach their maximum output potential in a particular industry. With changing times and market scenarios, newer insightful players, with greater adaptability to current trends are needed.

As Dr. B.S. Sahay, Director, IMT Ghaziabad says,” Today, the biggest problem the nation is facing is unemployment. The MBA graduates, who are starting out on their own, are providing jobs by recruiting people. India is known for its service sector and the growth is not just linear, but exponential. These entrepreneurs and venture capitalists work for the nation, for a cause and in the process benefit themselves too. They create opportunities and contribute to nation building. Gulshan Kumar had modest beginnings when he started selling cassettes. But, he was able to identify a larger cause and was supplying goods desired by people. Even at school, children can have an entrepreneurial mindset by showing keen interest in whatever activities they undertake. And B-schools provide you with the platform and experience required to reach those heights. It’s a spirit, a spirit which must be encouraged.”

Bill Gates fits the role perfectly. He dropped out of Harvard at age 19 to co-found Microsoft. IBM was late in realizing the potential of PCs and knew that it’s engineers were too tradition-bound to develop an operating system quickly. Meanwhile, Gates learned that Seattle Computer Works had developed the right system and bought it for USD 50,000 in 1980 and licensed MS-DOS to IBM for use in every one of its PCs. He gradually moved Microsoft from Windows to the Internet Explorer browser and computer games to keep up with rapidly changing technology and consumer tastes.

In addition, there are various small businesses and cottage industries which have not only been dynamic creators of new jobs, but also played an important role in community revitalisation. Several policies have been put forward to encourage their growth- financial aid in the form of outright subsidies, grants-in-aid, low interest government loans and also, development of experimental stations and vocational training schools. Of late, many executives have decided to shift lanes mid-career citing lack of motivation and flexibility, monotony, the urge to create and work on their own terms as the plausible reasons. However, many felt that their stint in the corporate sector helped considerably in their individual enterprises. “A certain minimum work experience can certainly take you a long way. You have not seen the dynamics of the corporate world and you need to learn how to tackle business situations. Besides, after working in a particular segment for a certain period of time gives you an idea of the workplace and the nitty-gritties involved,” says Sapna Kapoor, doing her Masters in Services, FMS, South Campus.

But there is always the risk of failure and rejection. In response, various institutes encourage students to take up entrepreneurship by stipulating assistance in the placement process in case the venture is not successful. Countering the odds, Ankita Agarwal, student, IMI, maintains, “I would prefer to start my own venture for the sheer challenge of it. I want a sense of independence and the freedom to implement the unique ideas I have in mind. Becoming an entrepreneur needs a lot of guts, a vision and some support and I think I have all that in place.” However, some think that it is better to not enter such wobbly domains at an early stage. “I would prefer a regular job because firstly I think being an entrepreneur involves taking a huge amount of risk being faced with new challenges everyday, and I personally think I would perform better in a structured and orderly environment, atleast till I have gained sufficient experience in the field of my choice,” says Mohit Sharma, student, IMI.

All in all, we need a symbiosis between entrepreneurs and executives to take the economy forward. Just as job opportunities to all are essential but disguised unemployment is an evil, the country does need more entrepreneurial undertakings but also efficient managers to steer them ahead.

Tania Jain

[image source http://www.flickr.com/photos/marsdd/2226476539/]