These days, it doesn’t take much to call yourself an entrepreneur. You don’t need an advanced degree, a certificate proving you completed required training or even a business card to pursue a dream of starting your own company.
However, having success as an innovator takes more than just a great idea. It takes dedication, hard work, sacrifice, and possibly even abandoning your comfort zone to have a chance at doing what you love.
Meet Vijay Brihmadesam. Like many people across the world, Vijay had a well-paying job and comfortable lifestyle working at a private equity firm in Palo Alto, Calif. And like many people, he was not happy with his current job and career path.
Long story short, Vijay got together with two of his friends and decided to leave the daily grind of Wall Street to pursue their passion — a fast-casual Indian food restaurant called Tava Indian Kitchen. Now, with two locations and plans for a third, Tava Indian Kitchen is thriving in the Bay Area.
Vijay’s story is just another example of someone having success from taking a risk and working hard. So what can you learn from Vijay to apply to your own path toward entrepreneurial success?
1. Chase Your Passion
This may seem cliche and obvious, but it’s one of the most fundamental components for success as an entrepreneur. Without a passion or love for the business you are starting, it is almost impossible to fight through the roadblocks and keep moving forward when the easier route is giving up.
Vijay set out wanting to, “serve Indian food in a casual setting that was like what [he] ate growing up.” He believed in his vision and pursued a business that was close to his heart.
2. Surround Yourself with the Right People
Having encouraging people who are all chasing the same dream as business partners can be an essential part of your success. Vijay partnered with a former classmate of his from Duke University named Jason Pate. The two ran into each other on an airplane and began discussing how they were both dissatisfied with their current jobs and decided to do something about it. They then partnered with another friend (Hasnain Zhaidi) after returning to San Francisco.
“We both wanted to be doing more than the rat race of Wall Street and start contributing to the community in a way that felt meaningful to us,” Brihmadesam told Business Insider.
One of the most amazing parts of Vijay’s story is that he left everything — a high paying job in a respectable field — to chase his dream. More than that, he and his two friends knew they needed restaurant experience in order to have a chance at success. So, the three applied for jobs at Chipotle, and worked the assembly line for a few weeks. Adjusting from an office job to making burritos and burrito bowls everyday may not have been required, but it laid the foundation for Tava Indian Kitchen and its success.
“Chipotle is great because they took authentic Mexican food and made it accessible to the masses,” he said.
4. Learn from Others’ Success
Vijay and his friends knew there weren’t any casual Indian food restaurants in the area and they made it a goal to fix that problem with Tava. Additionally, the trio wanted to have an ethical impact on the community, just like Chipotle, by using produce from local sources as well as meat that is free of hormones. Another lesson they learned while working the assembly line.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you have to know there is a risk of failing, but it cannot stop you. Leaving what you know and the comfort of a guaranteed salary is scary, but by investing everything and not fearing failure, you give yourself the best chance at being successful.
“A chance encounter changed the path of my life…taking the risk was scary, but I couldn’t be more thrilled with my career today,” he said.