Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My father is my idol and hero. He is a great leader, father, entrepreneur, doctor and highly respected community member.
My father was a pioneer in building the first private hospital in a small town in India (Guna, Madhya Pradesh) in early 2000, when healthcare infrastructure was pretty much non-existent. Now the hospital stands as one of the largest private hospitals with the best quality infrastructure in the district and nearby areas. People from nearby villages travel miles to get consultation and services there.
I have learned from him and his journey that starting something new and ahead of time is full of challenges, particularly around sharing a common vision and getting a “buy-in” from stakeholders and partners. I have seen him focus and prioritize on motivating and convincing his other partners to support the venture. I’ve seen that forming alliances and partnership at the very beginning of your startup phase is key to success.
My current investment management firm is in partnership and backing of Canadian Firm Wesley Clover and Indian software services firm Ideas to Impacts. Even though its early days of my venture, I feel very confident regarding its success.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Be persistent. One of the most common problems startups face is running out of cash. Many times, its related to key founders leaving, the business model not working out or competition creeping in. Not getting bogged down by these challenges shows that you truly believe in your vision and the problem you are trying to address.
This is key to success, as your partners, founders, employees, customers and investors will look right through that and support you till you succeed. If you can weather these critical moments you can beat anything.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Having tight control of your expenses is critical to longevity and success. I have seen startups go on a spending spree once they raise capital and run out of cash. Basis processes, such as getting quotes from at least three vendors for a service, ensures cost control but also compliance. In fast-growing companies, decision making is decentralized. And with lack of process, malpractices crop up.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Measure ROI from the outset for as many activities as possible. By doing this, you can quickly focus on the items that bring back the most to your company and help you grow. The bigger you get, the easier it will be to focus on more and more items. But in the beginning, it’s really important to focus on what investments will bring in the biggest ROI. Of course, ROI doesn’t only mean financial return. It applies to branding, customer feedback, development, etc.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
At every stage of your venture, from the day you consider starting a business to the day when you scale your venture to new geographies, perform a deep strength and weakness analysis. Once you do so, build or acquire the missing skillset quickly. For example, for your B2B technology product, you need an experienced enterprise sales person to take the product to market. It’s important that you align the person’s incentive with your venture’s vision for long-term growth. For example, you may realize that bringing this person on as an employee may not be effective. Rather creating a co-founding position might be critical to success.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Obviously look for success factors such as revenue targets, profitability or success exit/acquisition etc., as criteria for success. To me these are milestones. To me, success is your ability to achieve every small micro-task on daily basis per quality standards and timelines you previously defined. This requires an ability to design a long-term plan (say one year) and break it down month to month, week to week and day by day. It will provide you with a sense of satisfaction that your daily goals are part of a larger mission. This also reduces the pressure to achieving success. It allows you to go to bed satisfied that you had a successful day.