Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Early Entrepreneur: The tailor and the sailor

Earlier, on Early Entrepreneur series:

Evolving the Early Entrepreneur
Or a Freelancer?
It takes two to tango!

Better sorry than safe!
Garage Gangs!
The Dropout Kid!

Now read on:

Now that it is one full month on board this ship, I believe that entrepreneurship is like being a sailor and a tailor, at the same time.  But these two roles go beyond mere rhyming.  One is about when to cut the cloth and another i is about the journey.

The Tailor :  When to cut, the classical dilemma:
Well, when we planned to start, it was always about what is the starting point.   When do we end planning and start to play.  In other words, it is the dilemma of a tailor - how much and how long would one measure, and when one would cut the plain cloth and start stitching a jacket or a robe.

There are hundreds of theories about when to stop planning and start playing.  But again, in a tailor's parlance, there is no 'straight jacket'.  It is about crystallization to the extent of conviction.   Because there are some people who are eternal planners, vs the type of just doers.  And most folks, mid-life entrepreneurs, advocate a middle path.

Because this is the unchangeable truth - once one cuts the plain cloth, it has started.  There is no going back.  Of course, unless you decide to take another piece of cloth and start afresh.  But if you had a customer, who had given you that piece of cloth, he would not give another one, would he/she?  So technically, there would not be a second chance.
Tailor: When to cut the cloth?

Some business ideas, give you another start, unlike others.  Hence you still might have another piece, for argument sake.  But in real life, there is no second chance, when you involve a customer.   Hence the dilemma rears its head.  How much would you plan?   And when do you actually put your scissors to the cloth?

I can leave this with a thought - it is a metaphor of one's risk taking appetite.  If you have to deliver a product that exactly what the customer wants - you are in the business of tailor-hood.   But like a craftsman, who can create what he wishes, or ends up making one that he can justify later and makes a sale, then it is a different ball game.   Now are you into the tailor business or like a craftsman?   Write to me about that.

The Sailor:  When to sail?

If you have read the old sea classics, or pirate stories, or remotely involved with any folks in the sea-faring business, you will know how much of preparation that goes into, before a ship sails for a voyage.  But the most important thing is the date.  A date is set for the voyage.  And a confidence to meet that date.  Similarly in entrepreneur'ship', the date for the voyage is very important.

Check your boat for holes, stock supply, medicines for sea-sickness, clothes, safe-guards - get all that done.  But at end of the day, these are only the tools that will help you meet situations that will occur in the high seas.  What if you are a fresh sailor?  How will you set your voyage date? 
SAILOR:  When to sail?

The best way is to put an actual date, and stick with it.   Check the weather pattern, check that there is enough time for preparation but let it not be too far.   Too far is eternal procrastination.   And celebrate that date, in your own way - but my personal opinion is that one should keep the celebration as muted as possible.   Because after the initial euphoria, the reality sinks in.  There is no more anchor, but only the high seas, and in its midst, its YOU ALONE, out to sail.

If you are interested in this topic or early entrepreneurship, please write to

- Ashok Speaks 


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