Busi­nesses are built on burn­ing am­bi­tion

The Pak Banker - - OPINION - Subroto Bagchi

IAM 28. I have just raised the first round of ven­ture cap­i­tal for my ecom­merce com­pany. It is a heady feel­ing. But as the high-fives are set­tling down, please tell us the things we should keep in mind, what must be done to take the com­pany to the next round of fund­ing and 20x val­u­a­tion-maybe even be­yond? First things first: please fo­cus on build­ing value, the val­u­a­tion will fol­low.

The re­verse is a chimera and a slot­ma­chine view of busi­ness. As en­trepreneurs, we must be faith­ful to the or­ga­ni­za­tion we have set out to build. That one thought must per­me­ate ev­ery mo­ment of your wake­ful be­ing-fo­cus on the fun­da­men­tals. Most star­tups will never see the 20x val­u­a­tion un­less they keep in mind what I am about to tell you.

Since you are an In­ter­net com­pany (well, who isn't?), do not shift your eye from a fun­da­men­tal re­al­ity: cus­tomers may in­ter­act with the busi­ness you are set­ting up in a vir­tual world, but they live in the real world. Thus, it is not the killer app you are build­ing, but the liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of ful­fil­ment that will en­sure where your com­pany will go next.

Spend time with your cus­tomers with religious reg­u­lar­ity, im­merse your­self in their world in which they use, not just buy, your prod­uct or ser­vice. When you im­merse your­self in their world, you will soon re­al­ize who holds the key to build­ing cus­tomer loy­alty. It is the last-mile guy, hap­pily out­sourced by most. Whether it is a cab driver or a pizza de­liv­ery guy, that guy is the one the cus­tomer sees when she opens the door. That man is your brand.

Now let us look at how you run the com­pany over­all. Let us talk about the Type-A per­son­al­ity that all en­trepreneurs are cast in, its over­pow­er­ing mas­culin­ity and what that does for many of us. Beware of the stereo­type. You would do well not to em­u­late start-up en­trepreneurs who have a ma­cho view of lead­er­ship. Look at the best busi­ness lead­ers who have been around for decades. Most of them do not build on machismo; they build on em­pa­thy. For cre­at­ing em­pa­thetic re­la­tion­ships, hu­mil­ity is the foun­da­tion. Build hu­mil­ity. Tell your­self that you are here be­cause of your pay­ing cus­tomers, your em­ploy­ees and your in­vestors; it isn't the other way round.

Build a long view of time. Rome wasn't built in a day. Ama­zon is 22 years old. Shift your gaze to the last-mile guy and ask your­self, what you should be do­ing per­son­ally, and this very week, to train, mo­ti­vate and grow him. Go meet your most re­cent cus­tomer at home and have tea with him. Ask the cus­tomer what will bring him back for more.

Just as I told you Ama­zon was built over 22 years, some­one will also tell you that it made money af­ter 21 years. That works for Ama­zon be­cause Ama­zon has a 210-year view of busi­ness. For you and me, we would be bet­ter off to in­ter­nal­ize that losses are not cool. Busi­nesses are meant to make money. Th­ese days, ev­ery news­pa­per, ev­ery busi­ness mag­a­zine is agog about start-ups. The start-up kid is the new glam baby. While it is a good thing, it can go to your head.

Please know that me­dia is like al­co­hol. Drink re­spon­si­bly. And please, don't get car­ried away by the uni­corn tag. It is not with­out rea­son that such an an­i­mal doesn't ex­ist in the real world. Let us now talk about some­thing called The Burn.

Busi­nesses are built on burn­ing de­sire, burn­ing am­bi­tion. But don't burn at both ends. Please don't dump your girl­friend or boyfriend be­cause you need to be at work ev­ery night, past mid­night. One day, some­day the en­tire world will be a let-down for you. It is an in­evitable rite of pas­sage. That day, you will need the open arms of those who care who tell you, it is okay, that it has been worth it. Money hasn't yet bought love. It never will.

To­day, you are in your 20s. You have just started a promis­ing en­ter­prise. You are en­tirely fo­cused on build­ing it. But please do take a mo­ment to re­al­ize that in re­al­ity, there are two things com­ing into this world at the same time, be­ing born si­mul­ta­ne­ously. The vis­i­ble one is the busi­ness.

The not-so-vis­i­ble one, and in re­al­ity the big­ger and more im­por­tant one, is the en­tre­pre­neur. In you, an en­tre­pre­neur is be­ing born. That per­son must be han­dled with care, nur­tured like a child. That some­one is not 28 years old. That in­di­vid­ual is what I term as Me Inc. To­day, you are de­liv­er­ing two ba­bies: the busi­ness and the en­tre­pre­neur. Don't throw the en­tre­pre­neur to the in­de­ter­mi­nate out­come of ego and ran­dom­ness. Never for­get, the se­cond baby is very pre­cious. You are re­spon­si­ble for it. If you han­dle that one with care, that one will grow the busi­ness, ac­tu­ally, build many great busi­nesses in the fu­ture. Please take care of Me Inc. Nour­ish its body, mind and soul.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.