A few weeks back, I went to a tech talk at my university (this article is not about the event). I sat on the back row as usual. While listening to the speaker, I had an interesting chat with the person next to me.
Anonymous: If you were invited as a guest speaker for an event, what would be the interesting topics that you would love to talk about?
Me: Obviously, it will be about entrepreneurship.
Anonymous: Why do you call yourself an entrepreneur?. Do you have any registered businesses?.
Me: Well, entrepreneurship is neither having a business nor a patent. Entrepreneurship is a mindset that cannot be transferred from one to another. It is something that should be created or originated in one's own mind.
According to Wikipedia, entrepreneurship means “the process of designing, launching, and running a new business, which is often initially a small business”. But if you think back carefully, does it really matter?. If so, every businessman should be an entrepreneur which is not the case. According to Dan Schawbel, author of the best seller Me2.0, you can be an entrepreneur while working for a company, but if you don’t wake up in the morning excited about what you are going to do at work, you’ll never be able to progress in your career and you’ll never succeed in life. So if you are an employer, don’t worry still you can build your own brand while working for someone. But to archive that you need an entrepreneurial mindset which just can’t be archived overnight. You have to put your time in and learn from failures again and again.
Before coming into my story let me tell you an entrepreneurship journey of a person who I most admire about. Mr.Hansaka Padukka is the Co-founder of Zerotrash.lk. The small project which started in his own backyard with zero investment now collects 2000kg of garbage per month which is a big deal in a country like Sri Lanka. Today his social entrepreneurial spirit drives him into a successful businessman but the journey has been through dozens of failures and losses. Even tomorrow the company might not be very profitable but the effort should not be given up.
Trust me, 99% percent of my entrepreneurship journey is a success :), hell no! I’m just kidding. The opposite is the truth. But there are many things that I have learned from my failures. That’s why I respect the failures and not afraid to fail. Let me tell you how my mindset works with an example. A few weeks back I saw this video which made me think outside the box. Wait did you watch the video? if not please go back and watch the video before reading the rest.
Can anyone guess what was inside his nostrils? Yes, it was a plastic straw. Scientists estimate that there are 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws on shorelines around the world. Plastic straws are one of the most widely used, widely disposed products.
After watching the video I used to research alternatives that suites for a country like Sri Lanka and believe me there are a number of alternatives that already are already being used in some developed countries like Vietnam, the United Kingdom e.t.c. The first option which came into my mind was paper straws. But later I figured out that a modern paper straw machine is approximately 12*6 square feet in size. It’s tough to make a machine on my own. And glue is used to bind the papers and that glue should be nontoxic for human bodies. In Vietnam, they are using grass “Cyperus iria” (in Sri Lanka we call it “Thunassa” commonly can find in paddy fields) to make biodegradable straws. To find Thunassa I went to several paddy fields and figured out that in Sri Lanka, “Cyprus iria” has a triangular shape that is not suitable for my requirement. My third option is to use a straw to make straws. Along with my research, I have figured out the name “straw” originates from the word straw(“Piduru”). There are some exceptions in terms of this method too.
Finally what I want to express is unless you think something out of the box and research for a solution, the problem will never be solved. Don’t think somebody will appear magically and fix the problem for you. Finally and most importantly you should think about the target market too. Even today, when I go to a restaurant or a juice bar, I’m still asking whether they would like to move on to a biodegradable straw solution or not. So that’s how my mindset works for any problematic situation. This is only one example and there are more than 20 ideas that I’m currently researching and developing to help to make the future of Sri Lanka sustainable.
I really believe entrepreneurship does not mean having a business but, I agree with the fact that most of the entrepreneurial mindsets will end up with their own businesses.