5 lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Mahatama Gandhi

Entrepreneur Mahatama GandhiAs human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.

–Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Even if you deny it, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi remains one of the finest examples of entrepreneurship in India. Simply putting, he did it. He did what he professed or claimed or asked others to do. This remains one of the finest qualities of an entrepreneur. His vision was different and his motives were different than only earning money through a unique business idea; however, his principles, his strategies, his exemplary execution, and his message was entrepreneurial is all sense. No wonder that he succeeded in his ventures. (!)

His Khadi movement was one of the earliest examples of how a fresh idea can bring new insight into the way things are done. He created the market by renouncing luxury. He himself weaved his clothes. By all means, he was an entrepreneur.

Let’s just quickly go through some of his principles or ideals that can help entrepreneurs tremendously in their journey to success.

1. Truth

Inspired by the epic story of King Harishchandra, Mahatama Gandhi held to truth steadfastly throughout his life. He always believed that even if he loses something because of his staunchness to truth, in real sense of the term, he is not losing anything. This helped him keep his conscience clear in his journey. An entrepreneur, likewise, needs to take care of the truthfulness in his venture. He can’t make false claims; spread rumors about his idea; encourage his team members with shallow promises. He has to stick to truth and encourage others in his team to stay close.

2. Non-violence

Gandhi almost epitomized this virtue in his struggle for freedom against the British Raj. However, for entrepreneurs, this may sound as a tricky pointer. Entrepreneurs are not using violence by any means. However, sometimes, in business, they claim that hurting your competitors could pay high dividends. This strategy could back-fire or could dissipate your energy in useless pursuits. If, as an entrepreneur, you are focused on hurting your competitor, you are spending lesser time building your own venture.

3. Self-control (fasting)

Gandhi always believed in fasting, which is not merely for food, but for self-restraint. Modern psychology encourages the human beings to express so as to realize the full potential, but there are doctrines that proclaim that we should have a self-restrain so as to curb the lower or animal qualities within us. For entrepreneurs, it is extremely practical pointer. More often than not, entrepreneurs have to bootstrap their ventures. Self-restraint in expenditure, exile from luxurious life, careful planning on spending become the need of the hour.

4. Introspection (experiments with the self)

Gandhi continuously exemplified introspection. When he launched the Khadi movement, he himself donned dhoti. He knew that if he did not believe in what he was going to convey, nobody would believe in him or his idea. An entrepreneur, similarly, needs to continuously introspect as whether he is aligning himself to his thoughts or not. If he wants his team and colleagues to follow the suit, he must do it for himself. Entrepreneurship is based on experiments, and no better results can be expected when one experiments with the self for improvement.

5. Faith

Gandhi did not know whether people will follow him, have confidence in him or whether the British Government will accept his proposals. He had faith in himself. He was propelled by his conscience which guided him throughout. He believed in his ideas and concepts and had total faith. Consequently, he succeeded. An entrepreneur should have total confidence in his abilities. At the same time, he should be willing to admit his shortcomings, try to overcome them, and to build a team that can complement his skills. Faith in the self remains one of the most desired trait for an entrepreneur.

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  1. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this article. I sincerely believe in Transformational Entrepreneurship…an approach which integrates the mind, heart, and spirit for entrepreneurial success. We all have the opportunity to, as Mr. Gandhi once said, “be the change we wish to see!”

  2. Splendid post!
    Everything is related so well. A true entrepreneur has to have the belief to materialize his dream through the venture.
    Constant experimentation also leads to better business model.
    A true entrepreneur competes with himself at each level of making.
    All in all, all lessons are exemplified neatly.
    Thanks for this post Vivek!

  3. I really like his reliance on truth, no matter what, no matter if you are alone saying it, truth is truth. For his truth only, he is still facing strong opposition from his own religious people only. I realized value of gandhi of turning to an atheist. And about entrepreneurship, as an entrepreneur, I agree with all points and in the end the truth in work and commitment counts, which nobody teaches better than Gandhi.

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