3 Paradoxes of Entrepreneurship

3 Paradoxes of Entrepreneurship

By Somali K Chakrabarti

Entrepreneurship in India is a growing trend, spurred by the boom in e-commerce and rising investor interest. With this burgeoning interest in entrepreneurship, a number of courses, programs and workshops have mushroomed with the claim to help in turning entrepreneurial aptitude to the story of untold riches.

How useful management education is, for an entrepreneur, is a question that pops up frequently. Can entrepreneurship be taught?

After all, some of the biggest businesses have been built by people who never attended a B school.

A few such questions and paradoxes that arise in the context of entrepreneurship are:

1. Returns vs Passion

A pre requisite for an entrepreneur to get funding is having a scalable idea. An entrepreneur is expected to have a very strong conviction of why his/her idea would work and the returns that can be expected.

So, I was pretty surprised when I came to know while researching for the  -> brand stories that some of the entrepreneurs who founded popular brands did not have a concrete idea to begin with.

These individuals, who were incredibly passionate about something that they wanted to pursue, simply followed their passion. Availing the opportunities that emerged, they ended up successfully converting their hobbies into business.

Dilip Kapur, the founder of  -> Hidesign was passionate about designing leather goods and started designed handbags as a hobby. Hidesign grew from a two men workshop set up in Pondicherry, into an international mainstream luxury brand.

Similarly Meena Bindra did not start  -> Biba with a business idea but she followed their passion with full gusto, and took up every opportunity that came her way to grow her business.

So, while a saleable and scalable idea is needed to get funding, but passion, conviction and commitment are required throughout the entrepreneurial journey.

Passion – > idea – > execution -> commitment


2. Conception of Idea vs Execution 

It is often taken for granted that great businesses are built upon great ideas. However, merely coming up with great ideas can never make a successful business till the ideas are implemented well.

Entrepreneurship is more about relentless execution of an idea than about merely conceiving an idea. During the execution some things will go right and many things will go wrong. Entrepreneurs always put themselves in the driving seat and own up everything that goes rights or wrong.

A manager, in an organization, on the other hand may blame the system, or some external factors when things go wrong, while taking the credit for all right things.

Entrepreneur characteristics


3. Entrepreneurial education vs lessons of life

Entrepreneurial education is often looked at with skepticism. Unless you have entrepreneurial aptitude and risk appetite, no B school can prepare you for the dangerous thrill or the risks of entrepreneurship.

Education for Entrepreneurs

However, besides having  a strong understanding in say one area of business, an entrepreneur needs to have a decent understanding of all areas of business. That is where a management education comes in handy. B school equips a person with working knowledge of all business functions. Having said that one has to be careful in the choice of subjects that gear the person for more for entrepreneurship than for management positions.


“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill


Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and fraught with risks. An entrepreneur has to work leaving the security and the comfort zone of the office environment.

The route to success is not a straight one and is mostly paved with failures. More than the returns, the passion to create something keeps entrepreneurs going to such great lengths that the possibility of failure or even repeated failures don’t deter them.

What are the other paradoxes of Entrepreneurship that you can think of ? 


-> Image source

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  • When I decide to look beyond my working circle, the Entrepreneur is sure born in me.. But how he / she is nurtured, supported and ultimately made to show up again depends on my Social and Financial levels.. The Right Topic for the young minds! Well narrated, somali!

  • Great post!! My 5 years of commerce education and 17 years as a cog in the wheel during my corporate career (though not entirely a waste) could not teach me what my 5 years of entrepreneurial journey has taught me. Nothing better than self-learning and failures to make you great entrepreneur. I am working on my 3rd attempt and confident of succeeding.

    • True. A corporate career can be compared to one of the many cogs in the in the wheel, with each cog having its own importance, whereas an entrepreneur is the only log in the wheel, so yes the learning is immense. With each failure we learn something new. With you the all best Sudhir.

  • Another topic so close to me, being engaged in entrepreneurship I couldn’t have put it better, you have touched the nerve center for succeeding being an entrepreneur.

    Without any iota of doubt it has to be “PASSION”, nothing can replace or place it below in the order of attributes needed to be a successful entrepreneur. The more we think about entrepreneurship, the more we realize that how passion determines and decides the fate of an entrepreneur. One may have brilliant ideas and one may have capital but to be truly successful one has to have that burning desire, the drive within to create something new and do something to change the society…once that it is there and we are ready to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship.

    The journey in no way guarantees success, the next big hurdle even if we have a great idea and capital is “EXECUTION”, indeed you have hit on the head, it is indisputably the second most powerful aspect in reaching the destination not just getting derailed from the journey and never able to reach the destination. Execution is the key to success.

    Yes, like everything in life there is something we are taught to learn and there are others which we learn out of experience, so is the case with entrepreneurship…as regard the entrepreneurship classes it can help so much not further but as rightly pointed out, it is not a prerequisite not essential to be a successful entrepreneur, at the same time given an opportunity one should go through, no way any such learning will harm any potential entrepreneur.

    Indeed things are changing and changing fast in India, and entrepreneurship is no more a dream restricted to the land of dream i.e. US, it has shifted base and the tentacles have spread and the fire of passion has caught up with generation-next and as rightly highlighted start-ups have mushroomed and it is just a matter time India is going to see its own “Facebook” and “Microsoft”…after all behind these success stories are the hidden Indian brains, we don’t market ourselves well, we do things and keep it ourselves. It is time to talk and speak out and show to the world how Indian entrepreneurship can change the world for better.

    Cheers to the spirit of entrepreneurship.
    Thanks so much Somali for highlighting the possibilities and paradoxes of entrepreneurship.

  • With reference to second point, totally agree. We can see most of the great successful startups which have touched many all had very simple ideas!

  • Excellent article Somali. Another paradox could be – the need to keep low costs but to hire and motivate the best talent to progress.

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