On his return from the Stanford Business School in 1981, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani recalls asking his father about what his (Mukesh’s) responsibilities in the company would be.
His father had replied that he was not going to assign him any duties in the business. Rather, he told Mukesh to figure things out himself and left it to him to decide how he wanted to begin work at Reliance Industries .
“That was the most valuable lesson in entrepreneurship of my life,” said Ambani, at the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum.
“My father said if you want to become an entrepreneur you will have to figure things out on your own. Only managers are told what is to be done, not entrepreneurs,” Ambani continues.
Another vital lesson in entrepreneurship, was given to him by a professor at the University. He had told Ambani, that a leader never asks for the problems that need to be solved. Rather, he finds his own problems and figures out their solutions himself.
Ambani said it is very important that you be passionate about the problems you find and solve.
He has also learned over the span of his experience as an entrepreneur, that every objective of the company, should be linked to societal values. Along with solving problems of the company, it should also deal with problems that are faced by the people around a company, he said.
“Financial returns are a by-product of this. If you focus only on returns, chances are you would not be able to ever meet your passion,” he adds.
Despite running a multi-billion dollar company, Ambani said he has faced many failures in his life.
He said, “Failures are normal, people have not seen how many times I have failed.”
He said it is best to learn from them than to give up.
Although failures are something he can live with, he cannot accept disappointing investors.
“It is important to treat investor money more carefully than your own money,” he says.
Another true quality of an entrepreneur, he says, is positivity. A born entrepreneur does not pay heed to what the cynics say, and rises to the top, said Ambani.