Stay focused. Create value.

Modern business management gurus have brought down the idea of entrepreneurship to two schools of thoughts: One is the visionary principle, where you define a goal and objective – and then put together a plan, raise capital, bring a team on board, and then relentlessly pursue your goal. The other principle is to build on your capabilities. You understand what you are capable of doing; and then you start building your business around it. In the latter instance, you are not aware of where you want to go, but the journey itself is the reward for an entrepreneur as s/he is continuously managing a proven (or perceived) capability; and more often than not raising the bar, creating new benchmarks and new business verticals, while trying to add to the core competence of the organization. Many small businesses are built on the principle of capabilities.

Building on capabilities is much like living… you are uncertain about the end goal. But you know the essence of what you are good at doing. You cannot expect to build successful and valuable businesses unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods or services that you offer.  Many small business owners fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily unfocused and not staying motivated and not keeping their eye on the ball. They also fall prey to naysayers who don’t take them seriously because they don’t work from great offices, or the absence of what many consider a ‘good address’ on their business cards.

I believe the ecosystem of an economy is held by small businesses. It is imperative that small business owners receive the right impetus not only from their stakeholders, but also from the government. But more often than not, you will see these small business owners being swayed by the tsunami of one or two bad decisions.

The biggest impediment to most small businesses is the lack of self-belief. This is further accentuated by the fact that there is a complete lack of support system for these small business owners, should they hit a rock as they sail on their journey of enterprise. Many a times, small businesses go under due to issues relating to capital. It is also an irony that fairly large businesses and corporates enjoy longer and better credit facilities from bankers and vendors; while most vendors are not as accommodating with the small business owners as they are with a larger corporation. And to prove one’s credit-worthiness, a small business owner often gets caught in a vortex of liquidity crunch – s/he has to pay the vendor upfront. And the buyer delays the payment owed to the business. So, in the constant struggle of cash-flow management, small businesses lose the thrill of growing the business and thinking strategically for growth, and get focused on the number game. This is perhaps a strong inflection point that stops a business from going to the next level. And god forbid, that in this quest of meeting numbers, you encounter a bad customer, who can often set you back by years or even snuff out the life from your enterprise, let alone your self-confidence.

How does one insulate one’s business and self-esteem in such a situation? Enterprise, for many, is a solo sport. And whereas success has many fathers, there are no pallbearers for failure in business. It is therefore, imperative that small business owners get attached to business organizations like the local chamber of commerce or other business guild, or even try and create a guild of similarly placed business owners. Through discussion and deliberations, one can create a cushion to absorb business shocks. Over a period of time, this guild can also be a source of sharing business with who may have been your competitors, had you not come under one umbrella.

As I wish you a happy new year, let us take a fresh guard and look at our enterprises more objectively. And promise to add value to them in the year to come

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