Risk is the middle name of every successful entrepreneur – right from startup whiz kids to multimillionaire tycoons. People tend to avoid risks when possible, because inaction is often safer than action, but most successful people will tell you that safe and success spell very differently. And since many are reluctant to step out of their comfort zones, the risk takers naturally stand out, and it is this very quality that gives entrepreneurs their shot at breakout success.
However, given that all of us are taught and seasoned to seek permanence in life, being a risk taker is easier said than done. But take a look around we can surely find a lot of inspiration to take that leap of faith and chase those crazy dreams we cherish. Literature is always a good reservoir of inspiration, and Indian authors have shared some really amazing tales that can give you the right nudge. That said, The Startup Observer recommends five books by Indian authors that celebrate this risk-taking ability of entrepreneurs:
The 3 Mistakes of My Life – By Chetan Bhagat
This delightful book tells the story of three youths, Omi, Ishaan and Govind, and their endeavours to run a business in a small town of Gujarat. They draw their strength from Govind’s business acumen and Ishaan’s love for cricket, as the youngsters decide to open a shop that sells cricket goods. The novel chronicles their journey and evolution as entrepreneurs whilst they try to make their business thrive and flourish through unforeseen challenges like the infamous Gujarat earthquake of 2001 and riots of 2002. It also reflects on how they learn to balance between aggression and patience, their interpersonal conflicts, and their overall growth from boys to men.
Funny and entertaining, yet able to hit the sentimental note, ‘The 3 Mistakes of my Life’ is a great attempt to give readers insights into how businesses work in small-town India.
The White Tiger – By Aravind Adiga
Winner of the 40th Man Booker Prize, ‘The White Tiger’ is the story of Balram Hawai, who powered through his impoverished background and other hardships to his own taxi service. The narrative occurs via letters by Balram Halwai to the Premier of China, who will soon be visiting India. Balram’s is a survival story that embraces the good, bad and ugly things the man had to do on his way up from being a simple, below poverty line cab driver. Despite the dark and daunting events of his shady journey, one cannot help but be astonished by Balram’s “never say never” attitude.
As entrepreneurs, there is a lot to learn from Balram if we can read between his lines.
How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company –By Varun Agarwal
Varun Agarwal is an Indian youngster – fresh out of college, an engineering graduate who wishes he was more. Pressurised by family and societal expectations he searches for employment but harbours a dream for something adventurous. In this book, Varun recounts how he went from being a distracted youth to co-founding a million-dollar company; and learning to stand up to his pesky neighbour Anu Aunty who has nothing but cynicism towards his aspirations since his childhood. In a relaxed and funny narrative, he shares all the events that led up to his success – step by step, brick by brick.
The author captures the reader’s attention by virtue of his sheer simplicity and engaging style. Budding entrepreneurs might want to add this book to their shopping cart.
Gang Leader for a Day – By Sudhir Venkatesh
Sudhir Venkatesh, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Chicago befriends a fierce African American drug lord, not to do drugs, but to understand the blueprint of the narcotics business. His is a non-fiction account of drug peddling in a lower-class urban, predominantly African-American society, yet the narrative is as engaging as a John Grisham novel.
The book goes on to show that even selling and buying of fatal narcotics by a gun yielding goon requires a certain amount of discipline, precision, and accountability. The very fact that an academic took the call to walk into a world of organised crime to understand the nitty gritty of it speaks volumes about risk taking.
Gang Leader for a Day is a great book for those into non-fiction and like to observe the importance of entrepreneurial and management skills in all facets of business ownership.
The Sialkot Saga – By Ashwin Sanghi
The Sialkot Saga chronicles the lives of two men Arvind and Arbaaz dating from the Partition of India in 1947 to the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Juxtaposed with this contemporary story, the book details events from 250 BCE, Pataliputra, King Ashoka’s kingdom where a secret society ‘Nine Men’ has its inception.
Bound by fate and passion, Arvind and Arbaaz’s paths cross from time to time and they often find themselves locking horns when it comes to business interests. This drives them to play out their sinister and iniquitous plots of personal and professional competition, all the while breaking every rule in the book. On the positive side though, the narrative teaches us a lot about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur – the calculated risks, the ability to sense opportunities and foresee the future, and the many, many sacrifices and hardships to be overcome.
If you read and liked Kane and Abel by Jeffrey archer, you are bound to enjoy The Sialkot Saga, maybe even more! This is hands down THE BOOK to read if you dream of venturing out on your own.