Unprepared! 


Last week during my work commute, I was listening to Seth Godin’s Entre Leadership podcast about change. Seth mentions that being “unprepared” is good because it opens the gate to a new world!  It is a revealing insight. Of course, no one ever feels fully prepared for all the events that may unfold in our uncertain future. All of us would remember some particularly anxious occasions when we felt utterly unprepared.  Yet, today’s business world pays enormous premium for loud confidence, even if it is based on flimsy facts and admitting unpreparedness is looked down upon in the competitive environment.

In this context, it is interesting to understand the knowledge grid below and its relationship to the preparedness:

 

The Knowledge Grid and Preparedness
“I know that I know” (the green zone) is always the safest environment! We never feel unprepared in the green zone. How much we wish we always resided inside the security offered by the awareness that we know everything about what is going on around us! I don’t know about you, but for me, such moments have been rare to come by – especially, in today’s world of fast change and abundance of data! When I feel, I am in the green zone, I tend to ask myself whether my feeling (that I know that I know) is based on reality or am I being delusional. A little reality check never hurts!

The most anxiety-filled condition is when we feel completely out-of-sorts and unprepared … when we feel “I know that I don’t know” (the orange zone). Awareness about our lack of knowledge about a situation can be quite unsettling; at times, unnerving! And yet, this is the situation of feeling unprepared that Seth Godin was saying is good for us. How can that be true?

Here is how I look at it. First and foremost, being aware of one’s ignorance keeps you away from many a embarrassing situations. The orange zone is also the gateway to the endless possibilities. It is an invitation for an exploration! Every such moment when you know that you don’t know offers you an opportunity to learn something new. If you are prepared to trade some ego in exchange of new knowledge, the color of orange zone can be that of a new sun rising on the horizon.

And guess what, During the exploration of the unknown, we might actually stumble upon the yellow zone of “I don’t know that I actually knew this”! Life, often times, moves is circles and in my career, I have come across several deja vu situations when I am confronted with familiar issues, albeit in different contexts. And, all of a sudden, it has dawned upon me that feeling unprepared is not necessarily the same as being unprepared. We need to reach back into the database of our prior experiences that we knowingly or unknowingly gather. A number of times, life has reminded me of my dad’s habit of testing my math concepts by twisting the same question in many different ways. One can face the feeling of unpreparedness with much greater confidence with the knowledge that the celestial power might after all just be testing your concepts!

The biggest challenge that can (and will) trip us is the red zone and funnily, we don’t feel unprepared while dwelling in the red zone yet we, in fact, are unprepared! It is the zone where we are not even aware of our own ignorance – we don’t know what we don’t know. Being acutely aware about the existence of this zone is the first step in navigating it. But one also needs to shed one’s ego, surround oneself with honest friends, invite diverse opinions, be quick to learn and to be agile enough to improvise. That and that alone can help a business leader to navigate  the red zone … and be truly prepared!

Humans only as designers?

In a recent LinkedIn blog post “Bots, AI and the Next 40 Months”, Kevin Benedic said the following:

Software robots (or “bots”) can be developed to analyze vast quantities of data without getting bored, make decisions based on codified decision trees that humans design, and then act in milliseconds.

For many centuries, businessmen – as the producers of mass-market products and services –  engaged themselves in every aspect of the Innovation Cycle: Data-gathering, Definition, and DecisionThey gathered data samples. Then, they analyzed the data – first, to define a problem and then, to arrive at a solution for the defined problem. For every variant of the problem, they repeated this process again and again. All that is about to change and humans are likely to retain only the designing part of the innovation cycle while outsourcing the rest to the Artificial Intelligence!

DATA GATHERING: Traditional surveys have become obsolete, it’s the world of Big Data – this aspect of the innovation cycle has already been altered in the past decade. The era of Big Data has rendered traditional surveys redundant! Putting together a survey and defining a sample is now a skill-set of the past when products and services were mass-market oriented. Managers tried to infer the characteristics of the mass audience (the universe) based on a statistical sample.

Today, data is gathered (sucked?) “automatically” from millions of connected user touch-points. Products with adaptive designs seek to cater to an individual users defined by a query designed to parse the Big Data!

DEFINITION OF CONSUMER NEEDS: Pre-defining the end-user need is replaced by the designing of the adaptive platforms I was probably one of the last generations of business students who were taught that accurately anticipating and defining user problem was the key to successful marketing. No more! 

Greater computing power and connectivity in the consumer devices has helped design products that morph according to the end-user’s need. The focus, now, is on designing adaptive product platforms to address multiple user- defined problem! Today’s products increasingly behave like, what the previous generations called,  platforms. 

Compare today’s wrist watches with the ones we used in the past century or more. Today’s watches nudge you to get up and exercise, let you chat, give you directions, suggest you a restaurant, and  report your heart rate. Even the most expensive of the past generation wrist watches won’t let you do anything except telling you the time!

DECISION: Making product intelligent to reduce decision burden. In the early modern times, businesses spent several cycles guessing consumer problems and making decisions for them (and then spend millions of advertising dollars to convince consumers that the decisions they made for the consumers was an ideal one)! In mid-modern era, with greater computing power and connectivity in the consumer devices, producers are using user data to create adaptive “platform” products and services. The future late-modern era will be defined by AI! Consumer devices would be intelligent enough to reduce the decision burden on the user to bare minimum. Businesses would design and embed codified decision trees to eliminate the”overhead” of  intermediary decisions that the consumer does not need to take in order to satisfy his or her needs. An autonomous car, for example, can pickup the destination from your calendar, decide itself which route to take based on the traffic data, and if you are late, can notify your meeting invitees your new ETA. Codified decision trees are the new intel inside of tomorrow’s world.

Humans as the Designers?  Well then, tomorrow’s entrepreneur will design algorithms to parse the Big Data, come up with an adaptive product design that will meet multiple end-user needs and make the consumer gratification easy by embedding the codified decision tree designs in the products! So, have we, the humans, arrived at our final destination of being just the designers?

Burden of the Past: When and How to Write-off or Salvage the Sunk Investment and Move On?

We all take wrong decisions. However, when we invest a whole lot of time and resources on a wrong decision, we get caged by it, making it impossible to break free from it. I have, at times bought stocks that went into downward spiral after my purchase. At every fall in price, I bought more to bring the average holding price down. A few times this strategy did work well. I could make some modest profit in the first upswing in the stock price. But more often than not, I was stuck with a larger loss! 

That is not an unusual circumstance in everyday business. You burn your capital to launch a product or service that fails to take off. Should you run (and burn) a little more in the hope that eventually it will all work out well? 

Here are some ways to think about your sunk investment rationally:

Understand the time-to-maturity- some plants just take longer time to bloom. All business ideas do not have similar lifecycle timelines. Some, especially the ones that require painstaking building of a brand equity, may require a much longer time to succeed. One could easily go wrong in estimating how much time and how many resources one will require to achieve a break-even. In such cases an honest and objective midterm reassessment of how far you stand from the goalpost can either point you to a path forward or may prompt you to slam your breaks!

Doing more of what you have done so far without success, will not yield success. Doubling your efforts may not work if your efforts are misdirected at the first place! When you reaccess how far you are from the goalpost, also make sure that you are heading in the right direction on your path forward. Make sure you are facing the goalpost and not sprinting sideways. 

Life (of an Idea, too) is finite. Judge your staying power realistically. Some ideas that may require longer endurance and more-than-available resources may not be a dream that you should chase. Cut your losses if that is the case! 

Think of the opportunity cost. The financial wizards take the US Treasury Bond yield as the risk-free return. For every day on an unsuccessful path, that is the minimum you are loosing on your investment in the financial terms. Of course, there are social, familial, and personal opportunities that you would be loosing on too. Think, if it’s all worth it. 

Look for new opportunities where you can leverage the work you have already put in. Can you utilize what you have so far accomplished without further stretching your resource and time horizon? This is what management gurus call pivoting of the idea. Maybe all that effort wasn’t futile after all! 

Action Or Analysis? The Best Practices of the Analysis 

Whenever I watch a goalkeeper defending a penalty kick, I wonder what must be going on in his or her mind. Will he or she be analyzing the movements of the penalty kicker and regurgitating the statistical probability of the trajectory of the kick … or will he or she dive on either side of the goal post based on sheer gut feel or intuition?  Business goalkeepers are faced with numerous “penalty kick” scenarios during their daily firefights. Uncertain future (the opponent) can choose to take one of many probable strategic trajectories, the time-to-decision is very limited, and the error could mean a setback, if not a defeat.

Would you rather be paralyzed by the analysis or take a risk to be dead in an accident caused by an intuitive action? Should one analyze every probable strategic path that the devil of uncertainty may take … or should one rely on the blip of the neurons to decide without really bothering to engage in any kind of analysis?  I call it an impossible balance and an obscure choice! Let me tell you why. 

Given the finiteness of the time-to-decision and the limited processing power of the human mind, analyzing every probable path is merely an utopia! Thus, every analysis is based on incomplete data. On the other hand, intuition, too, involves analysis of some kind by your subconscious mind! That is why it is an obscure choice. In a tight timeline, the line between analysis and intuition is blurred. 

Even though obscure, one still has a choice to make. (a) Whether to analyze or not? (b) What and how to analyze? (c) When to stop analyzing and take an executive decision? Honestly, if knee-jerk reaction is the alternative, analysis is not an option! But, in today’s world of the Big Data, “what” and “how” of the analysis can be perplexing questions. Similarly, judgement as when to stop analyzing is an extremely tough one to make. If you analyze a bit more, you would probably get better grasp of the reality but probably not be left with enough time to act. This, indeed, is an impossible balance to keep!

I observe a lot of successful people around me to see how they achieve this impossible balance in making this obscure choice. Here are a few best practices I have learnt from them:

Analyze but have a positive bias for action. It is important to know that our lives are finite and no one has enough time to decide and act. You are not alone in this plight. While engaging in the analytical process, do not forget that it is a means to an end and the goal is … to act! 

Keep your analyzing brain independent from the decision making brain. Ideally, it should be someone else’s brain and not yours. Human mind is dumb (try this, if you don’t believe me). Your brain will see what you want it to see! An independent analyst, who is assured not to be shot at for bearing an occasional bad news, is likely to present you with the best possible picture of the uncertain future. 

On a side note, my teacher, Thomas H. Davenport, in his article The End of Analytics, describes how Artificial Intelligence analytical environments such as Saleforce’s Einstein and IBM’s Watson is “leapfrogging” the traditional business intelligence and analytics capabilities. 

Identify the key drivers that effect the outcome. Not all inputs affect the outcome of your decision equally. There always are some pivotal drivers that have potential to swing the outcome disproportionately. Identify them and test them.

However deep the analysis is  and however extensive is the underlying data, uncertain future is not going to freeze and become certain. Hence, no analysis is complete without a stress-test of the analytical model and exploring multiple  scenarios. Unless you do a what-if analysis on the key drivers of the analytical model, you won’t see the dark corners of the future!

Most importantly, encourage a corporate culture that empowers its managers to express diverse opinions and take bold actions. An empowered team of buddies who engage in healthy debate before a decision is made and defend it once the decision is made (rather than engaging in blame-games, in case of a failure) is the only hedge against the tunnel-visioned human multiple mind of the leadership. 

Happy analyzing!!!

Not Disruption … Positive Value-Price Quotient Is The Prerequisite For An Entrepreneurial Success!


I have attended numerous investment pitches in my career and one of the most overused word used by entrepreneurs is “disruption”. Everyone claims that their idea disrupts the market status quo and hence automatically qualifies to make a lot of money for its backers. Isn’t disruption an overblown prerequisite for a blockbuster entrepreneurial success?

Disruptive innovation is a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen. He describes it as follows:

A process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.

The following chart captures the essence of the idea of disruption quite succinctly.  A graduating disruptive technology infiltrates the bastion held by an incumbent technology at the bottom of the “value chart”, at which time  the incumbent fails to take notice of it. However, unless the incumbent  technology reacts to counter the disruption, the disruptive technology betters itself over a period to climb up above the prevailing technology’s best application.

Obviously, such a disruptive technology can capture all the value so far cornered by the incumbent technology and the backers of the new technology are rewarded with enormous returns! But, do we need a business to be disruptive to achieve spectacular entrepreneurial success?

I think not! There are so many glittering examples of entrepreneurial success based on such disruption (Microsoft, Amazon, AirB&B to quote a few) that we mistakenly take it to be an absolute prerequisite for a winning entrepreneurial play. But, in reality, what one needs is to have a positive value-price quotient. If the differential value you offer is higher than the price differential you demand, you are in business!  I view value as being three dimensional – Quality, Ease (of use or access), and the Breadth (of customer experience offered). We will talk about these three dimensions at some other time & place. But, let us talk why a positive value-price quotient is more critical to a business success than having a disruptive idea …

A positive value-price quotient: [Value(m) – V] – [Price(m) –  P] > 0

where, Value(m) & Price(m) refer to value and price of a significant (not necessarily the best) market alternative and V & P refer to value and price offered by you.

Market disruption allows you to (eventually) offer value (“V”) better than the value offered by the best alternative (“V(b)”) in the market and hence, gain the most. But, you can build a successful business without beating the best.

Firstly, you can win smaller battles by having a positive value-price quotient compared to a significant alternative (rather than the best) and begin gaining the market momentum. Secondly, value is just one part of the equation. You may also win (at least temporarily) by offering lower prices instead of offering a higher value! Numerous entrepreneurs succeed in commodity businesses, where there is no incremental value to offer, by focusing on the price. Volume plays a big role in getting the price low enough to generate a positive value-price quotient. Sourcing from a low cost economy or building competitive barriers too can give you a price advantage. And, it’s not just the commodity business owners who use pricing to get to a positive value-price quotient. Even, some of the trailblazing disruptive startups like Uber and Amazon eat up large losses to make a price play till such time that value play is clearly evident to their customers!

So, next time people talk about being the harbinger of the disruption, ask them how their business propositions create a positive value-price quotient – answer to that question is even more fundamental to an entrepreneurial success than being disruptive!

Are Large Companies Better at Entrepreneurship than Startups? Depends on the Founder’s Mentality … and the Builder’s Vision

Recently, I came across a very informative HBR blog on corporate entrepreneurship written by Chris Zook, partner in Bain & Company’s Boston office and co-head of the firm’s global strategy practice. The blog based its narrative on Chris’s research focused on how large companies find their next wave of profitable growth. Here is an excerpt from the blog:

Bain’s analysis shows that large companies that leverage the strengths of their strong core business have on average about a 1-in-8 chance of creating a viable, large-scale new business. Compare that to the typical entrepreneur incorporating a start-up. Bain’s research concludes that of all new businesses registered in the US, only about 1 in 500 will reach a size of $100 million—and a mere 1 in 17,000 will attain $500 million in size and also sustain a decade of profitable growth.

The author also cites a Bain research paper that he co-authored “Harnessing the power of the Founder’s Mentality” that states the prerequisites for the corporates to achieve such a growth as:  (1) a sense of insurgent mission, (2) obsession with the front line (an intellectual curiosity about every detail of the customer experience and of how everything in the business works), and (3) an owner’s mindset (antipathy towards bureaucracy and bias towards speed and action).

Indeed, during my own encounters with many entrepreneurs – individual and corporate alike – I noticed many facets of what Chris calls the founder’s mentality. But I have also noticed that this needs to be backed by a builder’s vision for an enterprise “to sustain a decade of profitable growth”. Business leaders can be vastly different in their approach towards building a business based on the timeframe they attach to their insurgent mission. I call it the depth of entrepreneurial vision. It is the depth of vision that dictates many of the strategic choices that a business leader makes. These choices may relate to making long term investment in people, building a strong organizational culture, or investing in technology & information systems. Some business leaders are builders – they believe in building a long sustaining business and some are riders – they target to ride on a wave in pursuit of a quick market-pleasing growth spurt or a profitable exit. Many of today’s technology start-ups tend to be the riders but there are many examples of riders in the large-cap corporate world as well.  Financial meltdown of 2008 would not have happened had the Big Banks decided to build instead of ride! Leaders with the longer depth of vision – a builder’s vision – tend to build viable, large-scale businesses such as Hewlett Packard, GE, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook.

Without judging whether one approach is better than the other, it is safe to say that if entrepreneurial success is to be judged on the basis of a long sustaining valuable business, both, the Founder’s Mentality and the Builder’s vision, are equally important.

The Momentum 

One of the most overrated term in corporate finance is growth while the most undervalued & ignored concept is that of the momentum.

Momentum in physics means the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as “mass x velocity”.  Important attribute of momentum is its seemingly self-propelling energy that keeps a system moving without any further external stimulus. Physicist call it the conservation of the momentum.

Momentum in context of any human endeavor results from “a pattern of decisions made over time, each decision influencing subsequent decisions” (Haseeb Qureshi says in his book quoted in one of my earlier blogs). 

For an entrepreneur or an investor, it means the combination of (a)  continued evolution and innovation (as opposed to the stagnation)  – signifying the velocity of the business, and (b) critical presence (as opposed to being an ‘also ran’ market participant) in marketplace  – signifying its masimg_2788s. Achieving deep and broad market presence for its products & services is great. But, investors don’t value such an enterprise much, unless the market presence is combined with incessant pursuit of new product opportunities or process innovations.

Tracking momentum is way more important than paying obsessive attention to the growth achieved in past quarters by a corporation. In fact, there can be no consistent growth without momentum! Significance of the momentum cannot be better explained than by comparing the stock performance of Apple and Amazon (see chart). Clearly, the difference in the momentum these two companies have and its impact is stark! It is the momentum that determines how valuable a business is.  Yet, B-Schools that drill profitability, liquidity, and  leverage analysis in their student’s brains, do not talk of momentum. Is it because it is too abstract a concept to put a value to it? I think not. Here are some of the data-points that can be tracked to measure the momentum:

Revenue from new products/ services/ markets ÷ the total revenue: revenue from the new launches in, say,  previous 2 years – historic & forecast; Year-over-Year growth/ decline in revenue-weighted market share: by product or service category/ by region; Benefit from new initiatives ÷ EBITDA: not just launches but any initiative such as product/ service promotions, process improvements, etc.

Whether you are an investor or a corporate executive, you can find your own way to track the momentum of the businesses you are involved in. But there is no denying the fact that momentum is the single most important driver of the corporate valuation!

A Strategic Business Plan or Just Another New Year Resolution? Best Practices for Strategic Planning 

As one year draws to an end and another one begins; we, in our personal lives, often engage in a favorite annual pastime of making new year resolutions. These resolutions – which are forgotten soon after we make them – are hardly backed by any concrete plans, leave aside probability of them having any strategic bearings! But, in our corporate lives, we need to be much more serious about this game of making new year resolutions as it impacts monetary returns to our investors, liquidity of the lenders, and the livelihood of our employees.

There is enough literature on what a business plan should contain (and avoid). But, very little is said about the best practices for creating a strategic plan.  After many years of corporate finance career, I still remain puzzled by the cavalier attitude we display in creating a roadmap to an uncertain future.  In a corporate environment that is otherwise full of paranoia, when it comes to the exercise of creating strategic plans, we take careless creative liberties by citing the famous quote of John Maynard Keynes: “in long term, everyone is dead”!

Admittedly, one cannot present a high-resolution photograph of the future but we can surely strive to create a beautiful impressionist painting! 

Here is an oversimplified yet useful roadmap of the way how I would do it …

  • I will begin with sketching a bottoms-up picture of the near future – one should begin by trying to predict future period for which you have considerable visibility and build a financial picture with considerable details.

    Never begin with sketching a long-term top-down BIG PICTURE … you will end up lying to yourself!!! 

    We humans are generally much more truthful in making short-term predictions about what you can and cannot achieve since we know that we can be held accountable for them!

  • I will also come up with my definition of success – the Metrics of Success Parameters– as you sketch the near future, decide how would you like to recognize that you are successful or not. Is it number of customers, revnue, EBITDA, EPS, and/or something else.

    It is OK to have different short term and long term success parameters.

    But I prefer clearly defined metrics with three or less dimensions each – short term and long term. May be it is just my mind’s inability to focus if confronted with more than three dimensions.  But I suspect, I can qualify as a person with average faculties!

  • Once I know what ‘success’ means and how my near future looks like, I will identify key drivers that can be manipulated to impact my Metrics – I will brainstorm strategy with my colleagues across the organization to see how modifying these key drivers to increase success probabilities, accelerate them and positively impact the metrics.
  • Now, I will feel comfortable visiting distant future and create a long term strategic plan using bottoms-up approach for period beyond the good-visibility period. Distant future periods might be difficult to predict but I will be skeptical about any strategy for which I cannot foresee its possible consequences in next 24-36 months. I am not OK with throwing up my arms and being inattentive about my medium term forecast. 

This, of course, is how I would do it and in no way, my way is the only high way! So, feel free to search your own path to the successful strategic planning and have a very successful 2017!!!

Happy New Year!

Santa baby, hurry down the chimney tonight; i.e. Power of Desire! 

Do you believe in Santa like the girl in the 1953 Christmas classic “Santa baby“? She wishes that Santa deliver her some extravagant gifts such as sables, yachts, and decorations from Tiffany’s and says, “really that’s not a lot”!Do you possess any such flaming desire that Santa baby can deliver to you on this Christmas night?

One of the most underrated of the human emotions is Desire! A few years back, I had read somewhere that Newton’s discovery of the laws of physical world, while contributing tremendously to the progress of our race, also had a big negative consequence. Understanding the rule of action & reaction – the need for an action to create a reaction – has made us disbelieve the power of our mind that works out of this physical world!

Orthodox religions preach that we should have faith and ask God whatever we want and it will be delivered. Modern science rejects this idea and asks you to focus on action than wish and belief. We usually end up buying into one of these two views. But, in my opinion, both these views could be based on partial view of the reality. And here is why … whether you believe in the God or His deliverance power, your desire is surely the very essence of success!

In my blog, “Can an idea cone from a vacuum?”, I had suggested 5 elements that create a winning idea: Passion, Focus, Observation, Belief, and Association. A number of other authors have emphasized the importance of these elements in different ways. But, how will you feel passionate about something without a desire prompting you to achieve it?  Desire is that spark that ignites the flames of passion and keep them burning (the belief part of my 5 elements of idea). Indeed, without desiring, how will one even begin the endeavor to achieve? And, in spite of such a pivotal role played by desire, mankind has not been to the emotion of desire and has loathed it as  undesirable!

So, on this Christmas Eve, take a pen and a paper, and write your own note to Santa baby … hold no bars … desire … desire freely! Desire for what you want from your life.

 Jesus, the entrepreneur! 


Mary Christmas!

If asked to name a few successful entrepreneurs, we would quickly rattle out names of the businessmen such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Ma of Alibaba, or Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. But, have you ever considered Jesus (or for that matter; Buddha, Mohamad, or Guru Nanak) to be an entrepreneur?  Of course, founders of religions pursued a much higher goal of spiritual liberation. But why should their effort not qualify to be an enterprise? 

The MassChallange blog  examines many definitions of the word entrepreneur. One definition I liked most was by an Austrian American political scientist and economist Joseph Schumpeter.  

Schumpeter described entrepreneurs as the innovators with “wild spirits” who shatter the status quo ! 

Of course, Schumpeter used this word in the context of business. But there is no reason why we should take a rigid view and not apply the word entrepreneur to other spheres of life, including religion. 

Here are a few reasons why I would consider these founding fathers of great religions as entrepreneurs:

  1. They were the proponent of “disruptive innovative ideas”: Founders of all great religions proposed a completely out-of-box perspective of the world, challenging the status quo! Buddha and Jesus, both rebelled against ritualistic religions. Guru Nanak – the great proponent of Sikhism – proposed a religion that fused seemingly diverse streams of Islam and Hinduism. And prophet Mohamad proposed the monotheistic Islam to unite warring Arab tribes that had diverse beliefs in multiple Gods. Each one of them was a disruptor! 
  2. They built core teams around their own charismatic self: Although we often associate founding of a religion with just one great thought-leader, none of these founders acted alone. They gathered winning teams around them! Jesus had his 12 apostles, Mohamad had his wife Khadija, cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, close friend Abu Bakr, and adopted son Zaid. Even though Buddha achieved his knowledge by meditating under the banyan tree alone, he built an organization called saṅgha:, the company of Buddhist monks, to spread his message. In Indian languages Saṅgha: is loosely translated as “the team”. 
  3. They too had to cross the chasm from an early adoption to the mass following: Religion founders too, had to pass the difficult path of what Harvard’s Christensen calls “crossing the chasm“. Indeed, it is easy to find early adopters but what matters is scaling. In case of many of these religion founders, their enterprise had to trade turbulent waters (at times, violent prosecutions) before becoming dominant ideas with mass following. 
  4. They (or their successors) did manage to garner support of some powerful sponsors to assist in their scaling efforts: Jesus and his early disciples suffered a lot of prosecution at the hands of the then prominent actors. But once they could prove to have gathered enough momentum, they could get the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, to give Christianity the much-needed stimulus. Emperor Ashoka played a similar role in his sponsorship of the Buddhism. 

Don’t these traits sound familiar to the modern-day  garage-to-valley entrepreneurs? Absolutely! So, during the Holidays, as we wish each other Merry Christmas and pray to the Almighty, let us also light a candle to the entrepreneurial spirit of the mankind that has helped us in our  every endeavor … business being just one of them!