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Shivjeet Kullar

The author is a legendary ad man who has won over a 100 awards in his career. He is also an author, a novelist a playwright and song writer. Now he has founded the unusual and powerful website adytude.com which helps power other websites, brands and businesses ahead

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Point Blank: I Survive By Paranoia

Let’s see where we’ve got so far. We launched a breakout site. Managed to build a unique community with session times that are some of the highest in the world. Have signed on more than 50 clients. Received more than a million dollars in funding

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OK. Let’s see where we’ve got so far. We launched a breakout site. Managed to build a unique community with session times that are some of the highest in the world. Have signed on more than 50 clients. Received more than a million dollars in funding. Blah, blah, blah.

So now wherever I get go I get asked the question — what is my secret of success? I’m presuming that people want to know a) whether it is an inborn judgment of what will work and not, b) whether it is a the willingness and ability to take calculated risks or perhaps c) an optimistic positive energy that the universe returns.

None of these.

It is a survival by paranoia.

Nowadays in office there is an unwritten rule.

When I voice my concerns about any thing no one is allowed to tell me ‘don’t worry.’ I’ve told them that we’ve reached where we are because I always worry. I worry about the targets. I worry about the site. I worry about every rupee we spend.

Now I know that this doesn’t sound very heroic. But that’s the way it is. I like to keep a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and preferably a Plan E for everything
And believe me I’ve often had to move down the line to Plan D many times — and I think once Plan E.

There’s a writer called Lee Child. He isn’t any sort of literary giant. He writes action thrillers about a hero called Jack Reacher. In one of his books I read this quote — “Hope for the best, plan for the worst and what usually happens is something in between.”

This is bang on. Though on a scale of 1 -10 I have often found that what happens is not 5, but 3. However, the point is if you’re ready for it you can course correct, dig deep and scramble to make 3 into an 8.

So I like to be ready.

Ready that a client who is confirmed will change his mind.
Ready that once a job is billed he will slash the amount.
Ready that what I consider 3 sure projects becomes one.
Ready that an investor who seemed on suddenly changes his mind.
Ready that an investor will give a check that will bounce.
Ready that a shareholder who seems nice suddenly gets aggressive.
Ready that a key member of the team suddenly resigns.
Ready that a technology bug will suddenly hit the system.
Most of all ready that things will not happen on time.

Time is one of your greatest challenges when you run a startup — though that’s a topic I’ll deal with later.

It’s a curious kind of patience coupled with impatience that you need.

To give you an example. We’ve just completed a funding round but next stage venture capitalists are already talking to us. We’re unlikely to need funds for some time but I know how long deals take and I listen to all of them.

All this is survival by paranoia.

It just has one catch.

I’m not sure you can thrive by paranoia.

That’s why I try not to bother my son and cofounder about all this.

We first generation entrepreneurs have a fear of heights.

They should reach for the sky!


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Paranoia Magazine 31 October 2016 startup


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