Becoming an entrepreneur: challenges and best strategies
Chetan Dube, CEO and Founder of IPsoft, and Eugenio Pace, CEO and Co-Founder of Auth0, discuss the challenges of establishing your own company and the best strategies.
The challenges of establishing your own company
As Chetan Dube, CEO and Founder of IPsoft explains, in the early years of establishing your own company, it can be difficult to convince people of the value that an innovation can provide to a business. “It’s much easier to provide a run of the mill product at a slightly better cost, compared to offering a completely disruptive proposition. You need perseverance and conviction if you’re going to launch a true first – and this challenge can’t be underestimated.” Dube explains that today, his business is at the forefront of technological innovation. “However, that doesn’t make the challenge of staying at the forefront of technological innovation any easier – if we rest on our laurels and lose our position as the most advanced solution on the market, then we’ll get left behind.
Another challenge Dube highlights is the speed of doing business around the world. “The US market is just under 300 years old. With this youth comes a fearlessness for consequences and a hunger to just ‘go for it’. It’s therefore unsurprising that the American banking and insurance industries are leading the charge in digitization.” Compared with the European market’s maturity of 2,000 years, “you can feel that the pace of movement is inherently very different. It is important for American entrepreneurs to remember this difference and not try to push a European bank to act like its daring younger brother across the pond.”
Eugenio Pace, CEO and Co-Founder of Auth0 adds that maintaining a global workforce is a challenge for entrepreneurs. “To tackle this challenge, at Auth0 we have a remote-friendly work policy where we do not require our team to work in an office. Additionally, to bring our global workforce together, we hold regular company-wide video meetings once a year.”
To combat business challenges as a whole, Pace looks to philosophers and mentors for advice and support. “This might seem a little off-beat, but I turn to the lessons of stoic philosophers like Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, whose tenets of self-control and fortitude have served great purpose in my life and helped me through the toughest adversities. I also seek out advice and support from mentors who have guided me through the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship by forcing myself - while sometimes uncomfortable - to have brutally honest conversations about concerns I am having. Sometimes, all you need is an outside perspective to show you a clear path forward.”
The best strategy for establishing your own company
When asked about the best strategy for establishing your own company, Dube explains that there are three core elements that underpin a good strategy. “First, you need to find something that you’re really passionate about. Second, identify a real way that you can make a difference, and finally, make sure you are different, “I can do this too” is not enough. Otherwise, you’ll just be another pizza parlor around the corner from the other one.” Alongside Dube, Pace also emphasizes the importance of focusing on the customer. “Since our inception, we have emphasized focusing on customers, thinking about their satisfaction from the outside-in by placing ourselves in their shoes. My co-founder and I work to uphold this everyday, rooting our company in these values.”
Dube believes that alongside the standard model such as resource allocation, structure, leadership and operational model, a good business model needs the ability to continuously evolve. “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change inside the organisation, it’s fair to assume that the end is near.” Agreeing with Dube, Pace acknowledges that, “while passion is certainly necessary when building a business, the business model is what will make or break its longevity. In my opinion, the key element in a successful business model comes down to how well-rounded it is. That’s not to say a business model can’t be rooted by a founder’s ‘one big idea’, but it is important that it has other legs to support it. These include: strong values and a culture that scales; scalability and long-term, sustainable growth strategies; agility in times of market and competitive shifts; continued product disruption and innovation; customer and employee satisfaction and smart partner ecosystem and business alliances.” Ultimately, Dube believes that “you need to understand what your mission is and the values you want to live by in your pursuit of it. There will be sunnier and cloudier days as an entrepreneur, so having these guiding principles will help you navigate those trickier decisions where you ultimately need to decide ‘at what cost?’”
Reflecting on the establishment of their own companies, Dube and Pace agree that embracing mistakes and challenges is important, “this might seem like odd advice to someone wanting to start their own business,” contemplates Pace, “but imagine if we shifted our perception of mistakes and saw them as opportunities to grow. We could learn and better ourselves from every mistake made, viewing them as gifts in disguise. While I do not recommend making mistakes, when they inevitably happen entrepreneurs can use them as opportunities to gather information and push through their own previously conceived boundaries.”
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