A FEAST CALLED SUCCESS

success

What is there to calculate? How close to accuracy is your estimate? Ram Mohan decided to take a risk. And the occasion he saw was April 15, Vishu, that marks an auspicious beginning for Malayalis. 

And today was April 12, Saturday. The only thing he kept in his mind was that he has to repay a loan of Rs 25,000 by Wednesday.  So he could not allow this opportunity to slip by. Ram Mohan made his way to the nearby school that had an abandoned auditorium.  After a long negotiation, the principal allowed it to be used for a cultural feast. The condition was that the hall must be cleaned and refurbished after the programme.  

In the evening, the agreement on hiring the auditorium was signed. Then Ram Mohan made his way to a DTP centre. By Sunday morning, he had with him adequate publicity materials such as posters, invitation cards and tickets for a grand ‘vishu sadya’ scheduled for April 15 and venue was Local school auditorium. He contacted a sadya expert and a chef to begin work on the eve of Vishu. Collecting eight of his friends, Ram Mohan, the new entrepreneur decided to invest  upto Rs 60,000 in this venture. He priced the sadya at Rs 150 per plate. Local school auditorium could hold up to 250 persons. His target was to sell 750 tickets so he would be able to finish the feast in three batches. 

So, the arithmetics is perfect.  Now the logistics had to prepared, and everything had to be calculated. The makeshift kitchen, gas cylinders and other equipments came at a cost. He had to plan the size of the kitchen, and the number of tables to cut vegetables. And a few skilled labourers had to be hired on daily wages.  Bureaucratic permissions for supply of electricity and water had to be procured. Most important was the planning of time. There was only limited time to complete the sale of 750 tickets. His communication and publicity had to have an intellectual and emotional appeal, making people choose a social ‘Vishu’ than a family ‘Vishu’. His message had to convey the message of a social cause than a personal agenda. 

Ram Mohan had to showcase all his entrepreneurship skills. Recruitment of labour, planning of finance, equipment and infrastructure, procurement of raw material, quality control, publicity and sales, all had to jell together to make the porgamme work.

So, where is the crucial innovation? Ram Mohan and friends decided to conduct flash ‘Vishu- kani’ competitions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday  in not less than 30 locations in the town.

BRAVO! It worked, and tickets were soon sold out.  All things went on well as planned. By Wednesday evening, Ram Mohan was richer by over a lakh of rupees. The closing ceremony was a grand affair, and included apportioning a percentage of the revenue to the income tax department.

The required knowledge capital was not limited to conducting the feast. They had to have a vision of the product and the total event for Wednesday afternoon, and had to keep the expense in mind. To accommodate the diverse sentiments of labour, Ram Mohan and friends were required to be at their emotional best. An understanding of the detailed planning was needed for the correct sequence of events. And an intense calculation was evident on estimating the quantity of vegetables and food items that had to be purchased. 

The friends also showed immense alertness of intellect to make instant but correct decisions. Only very little was left to chance. Keeping a tab on the hygiene, health and safety standards was also part of their schedule. Above all, the opportunity was culturally compatible.

It was the first time that Ram Mohan’s team learned the eating behaviours and mannerisms of people, and for them it was valuable lessons ranked much above business deals. The team got recogntion for their impeccable organizational skills. Soon, they were showered with requests to arrange wedding sadyas and feasts for other festivals and occasions. It is their aspiration that in five years they can donate an indoor stadium to Local school.

Success is a combination of entrepreneurship, risk and opportunity. Be the wise one. Become an entrepreneur. Incorporate corporate social responsibility into planning, calculation and estimates. And success will come to you. 

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INDPRENEUR

(As published in Unique Times)

Indian-business

Is it easy to set up a new enterprise in India? Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Singapore, Dubai or even the United States may come among the first twenty in the list of easy business countries. A research of one hundred and twenty countries put India at one hundred and thirteen. Is it really so difficult to set up a new enterprise in India?

Entrepreneurship cannot be without innovation. Design of the product, attracting investments, strategically creating a market and all operational procedures need to begin with innovation. Let us consider the complex challenge of selling. How to communicate the specific measures by which the young entrepreneur can sell the product successfully? We know that people are driven to procure a product to satisfy their personal taste. It could be a toothpaste, a dress or even a car, but there is an impetus to purchase. A uniform dress whether in sports or profession is not personal taste but a team requirement. This is a functional purchase.

The third intend to purchase is because it is ubiquitous, which means it is a sudden trend, an immediate fashion or an urgent social compulsion. For example, a patriotic memento during the republic day, a religious symbol during festival or even an ethnic dress or a head-gear. Many times the buyer seeks to express himself using the product to convey a message, may be through a luxury car or a watch. So welcome to the world of complexities.

As a start-up entrepreneur, is it painful news or pleasurable results that dominate your experiences? There is no formula to navigate between these two features. To penetrate the market, its demography must be deconstructed. Centralised strategy born in the marketing board room may be very distant from the actual and local realities at the ground zero.

Let us meet Charlie who is a radio jockey in the local radio station. All five hundred thousand people in that town listen to Charlie everyday. People are sure to buy the chewing gum that you want to sell if recommended by Charlie. The chewing gum company will be wise if they make Charlie endorse their product instead of attempting to communicate to all the population of the town. Samantha is an adversary of Charlie. She encourages people to use organic products and to reject the regressive act of gum chewing. Her followers are adversaries of RJ Charlie. Samantha has polarised a good portion of citizens of the town into her activism. Such behavioural polarisation can become an impediment for the optimum penetration into the market.

It is important that the next program innovator should have ample education into the burden of regulations imposed by the formalised purchase behaviours. For example, there is a ban on tinted, dark and opaque films on windows of cars. However good the product is, the regulatory burden is a deterrent for the people to buy a product. Many entrepreneurs are pained by the volume of bureaucratic discretions that delay, if not paralyze the business initiatives.

Isn’t it surprising that even though India is one of the most difficult places to begin an enterprise, Indian youth seem to be having the capacity and capability to begin new business ventures? Just like the horse must be in-front of the cart, you must be encouraged to drive the initiatives and then the competencies will come. Take help from domain experts such as chartered accountants, business advocates, angel investors, venture capitalists, financial experts and company secretaries. Ensure that the arithmetics of production, inventory, labour hours and the market dynamics are tallying. Never underestimate the importance of detailed business report which must be ratified by expert businessmen.

Ensure that your enterprise coach and the business mentor are an integral part of your business enterprise. It is important that you eliminate the deterrents by keeping focus on the target. The talent of attention to detail must be practiced to perfection. An expert must design the structure of management, so that entitlements and rights are conferred upon the entrepreneur. Your power as the owner must be established at specific levels.

Continuously upgrading your technical skills and updating your people skills alone will give you a competitive edge. Circumvent the challenges and navigate through the complexities and successfully establish your entrepreneurship in India. This will be the great business craft you must master.

THE SOURCE OF CORRUPTION

Corruption

The word called corruption is too vast and complex. It is a scenario where there is both a practical requirement as well as an ethical conflict.

Corruption is doing to others what one would not like to be done to oneself.

Where does corruption begin? When we experience loss, when we have a threat perception   or when we feel insecure, then we feel cornered. We get our backs to the wall. But we have to survive. So the survival instinct will make us do something. It could be finding some ways to circumvent the constricting rule, overcome a procedure, expedite a protocol or disrupt a process so that we can survive and flourish.

Primarily, one person must have a strong idea of contentment, patience and gratitude in order to eliminate corruption. Then, he can overcome it.

Then again, on the other side, it is very important for the concerned person to ensure that we do not experience insecurity, threat perception or perception of loss. Seeing that we are cornered and helpless and have made ourselves vulnerable, the person on the other side should lend a helping hand in the ambit of human values. He can help us to come out of our need to disrupt the existing process, protocol or procedure. Thus, corruption can be eliminated. It is a two-way process.

There needs to be a framework of ethics to deal with corruption. Ethically we should not do to others that which we would not like to be done to ourselves.

This world is beautiful and large, and so are we. We must have faith in ourselves and trust the people around us. However, in the world of duality, there will always be contest and comparison. There will always be some reason and element for conflict. Therefore, being in the world of contrast, conflict and comparison, we have to understand and agree with its very nature. There is corruption because there is pain in somebody. The objective is to eliminate that pain. And that is the reason such an action is termed ‘corrupt’.

Least Corrupted countries

We have to understand certain ground rules. It is that, sometimes, pain is inevitable. That is the way the system is. Therefore, total harmony is an illusion. If somebody is looking for total happiness at all times, then we can call him a perfectionist.

There will always be some reason for unhappiness. But that should not be our criterion to choose whether to participate or not to participate in volunteering. Our objective must be to eliminate pain for other people; to give them solace and comfort. Thus, our focus should not be on the actual corruption but on how adept we are at giving solace.

At all times there will be incompetent people; people with limited IQ and imperfection. Thus, there is an element of pain. Corruption begins with a pain element; either it is in the receiver or in the giver. In the giver, the pain element can be neutralised by patience, contentment and gratitude.

The moment we begin to deal with our pain, we will get a clearer perspective of it. Then, we will need to heighten our competence, learning level, skill and tact. Others may not be able to cope because they would be having fewer resources. Then, we will have to deal with this and live with such people.

It is really a pain. So, the corrupt way to get out of this pain is to quickly resolve it by using some unethical means or using some over-reaching influences. But the correct way is by enhancing our competence, strategy and tact. At the same time, we should learn to influence our opposition and find substitutes to replace corrupt practices.