In my interactions with a large number of small and medium business (SME’s) owners and their management, in the recent past, I have observed a general feeling of despair about the market conditions in the country and a gloomy realization that finally the acche din are taking a little longer to arrive.
Pretty much convinced that most of the slowdown we are facing is due to the policy paralysis or maybe the lethargic implementation of effective policy changes. Are you feeling the same?
However on deeper introspection I realize that we have been making a lot of noise about something which was never an impediment to our growth.
- Historically Governments haven’t really been helping businesses – If one looks back in time right from the establishment of the Birla group under Ghanshyam Das Birla in 1911 or to the time when Reliance was growing, or how Infosys and TCS became the poster boys for Indian IT, we would see that all these companies did not succeed because the government helped them in any way, but because they thought out of the box and worked hard at what they believed. In fact if anything the governments either were working against their growth or at best were neutral.
- We are in one of the best times seen till date – I can firmly say that we are presently in the one of the best times businesses and entrepreneurs could ever be in India. The startup infrastructure is thriving and flourishing, there is lots of capital available, there is a general positivity in the government towards businesses and last but not the least technology is opening up ways and doors never imagined in the past. Yes the global markets are in turmoil, retail spending has been low, but then these are challenges any business will face. We never can expect the government to find us customers.
- Innovation – We have somehow mastered the art of making cost effective products and services at a fraction of the cost taken anywhere in the world, and reverse engineering has been our forte, which has over a period of time killed the spirit of innovation. I am not saying we are innovative but out innovativeness is primarily focused on cost cutting and not on designing better solutions for customers needs. We need to work at innovating at all ends, maybe there is a lot of emphasis on innovation at product design and development however the same needs to be translated into sales and marketing
- Quality – Over a period of time we have embraced mediocrity in the services and products we make and buy. We have been more concerned about the time taken to come out with a product or service rather than the quality. This malaise has caused us to focus on who does things faster rather than who is doing it better. We need to quickly move to a culture of quality and precision and not loosing complete focus on our ability to make things quickly.
Infact there is so much that we can do to kick start internal demand and get to know our customers better. We have to realize that each customer is unique and their needs and aspirations need to be met without really bracketing them in a group. The emergence of digital technologies and the ability to connect to customers directly is such a big blessing that today businesses can understand each and every pulse of thier customer at a fraction of the cost it would have taken earlier. Technology has brought us so much closer to our customers, we need to just take a step towards success by holding our customers hand.