January 8, 2012

Cost of Failure - Good Reason to Start Early!

This post is a prelude to an upcoming post on 'Failure Funds - Way to
spur Entrepreneurship & Innovation in Indian Universities'
Cost of Failure
One of those weird terms that I very often come up with. When I say
cost of failure, I mean the loss you have incurred, because you tried
something (usually new) & it was unsuccessful, in terms of lost money,
time & peace of mind (aka financial & other security)
Why is it important?
Lot of IITians (in particular because I've had interactions with quite
a few of them) think the cost of failure is high when they are just
around graduation.
The general consensus amongst most IITians is that if they do not take
up a corporate job (I am not talking about the almighty researchers
that we nurture because they are (few) gods walking amongst us humble
men), & start something new aka startup & they 'FAIL!' they would have
screwed up their life & (dramatically) 'Condemned their souls to the
raging fires to hell for all eternity'
Now my point (scientifically speaking, hypothesis) is, that it is
quite not true, rather if at all, it is quite the opposite. i.e. The
cost of failure is VERY LOW early on & there is a very good chance it
might be very high by the time you are in your late thirties & early
forties (mark important, will explain why, in next post)
Proof : (my favorite part, #MTH101)
Consider a (read daring) IITian who starts a company (or at least
starts working on an idea) early, let's say his sophomore year or
maybe third year. He works on it for a month or two, but does not
achieve success.
(sad story) & he 'quits'. (he stops working on that idea & starts
working on another idea)
Now, consider what people think he has he 'lost' :
1. 3 months of time.
2. Some peace of mind (maybe)
3. Some parties
4. Some money (maybe)
5. Grades (maybe)
6. Confidence - you might lose a little confidence, but dude, get over
it & work on the next big idea that will change the world.
Now, let me explain what he has gained :
1. 3 months of work experience. These 3 months would have otherwise
been wasted boozing around & in hangovers.
2. In 3 months, he would have had at least 6 surprise quizzes & a
midsem, so I don't think he'd have had a peaceful mind all the time
3. 3 months of internship in working hard & trying to make an idea work.
4. He may lost some money, eg. Booking a domain, travel expenses etc.
but otherwise it would have been spent on Domino's pizza etc.
5. You may have a lower grade on your transcript but definitely a
much-more-important self-motivated work experience which would help
you throughout your life.
6. Confidence - You will gain a lot of confidence in the long run
(with the help of your friends & mentor maybe) because you dared to
venture into an unknown territory. It will help you in the long run
because life belongs to those who dare to venture into unchartered
territories. (reference - Han Solo, Star Wars)
So, overall I don't think you lost a lot.
Living Example - Me & my initially successful idea. I started working
on an in idea in the 4th semester which was initially a decent
success, but as times changed, it sort of 'died'. In the business
terms, you'd call it a failure, but for me it was a success! I was
able to pay my mess & canteen bills independently. It gave me such a
boost of confidence that even today when I am raising capital for
Jewelove & trying to venture into a relatively unknown territory I
feel confident. I know that, God Forbid, but if I do not succeed, I
can make my living independently doing something that I love to do.
For me, that is life.
More on the cost of failure in the next post, 'Failure Funds - Way to
Entrepreneurship & Innovation in Indian Universities'
Stay Tuned!

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