I learned my first lessons in business from my father’s foundry.
That’s me in the picture, in the late 1980s, when I was probably 19 or 20 years old with a cupola I bought and which didn’t work out as planned.
Everything was scarce in India then, and the country was nearly bankrupt. There was no IT or ITES industry. Computers were a subject of debate in high school – whether it was a boon or curse. The word entrepreneur was unheard of, and profit was a bad word.
At this juncture, I wasn’t sure of what I would do or become, but I was very clear on what I DID NOT want to do.
Here’s what I learned by then:
1.        To build a brand – simply because its potential is literally infinite. Until recently, I never invested in land because it was limited by its perimeter.
2.        To do a business that has a multiplier factor with increasing returns to scale. Create one good thing and repeat it.
3.        To be in the world of bytes was better than the world of atoms. The digital world always has a better trajectory and allows monitoring from a dashboard.
4.        To be in an international business where India has a natural advantage. Before I arrived at human resources, I had interned with shrimp, coffee, and lawn and garden export businesses.
5.        To never have bills receivable – that’s why I only do B2C business. Never to be in a business where you are worried not about the return on investment but the return of investment.
6.        To pay taxes in India and use it as a differentiator. The transparency that it brought gave us advantages, including implementing cloud technology, which brought many productivity gains.
7.        To reinvest in the company. It simply shows trust in yourself, your team, and your business.
8.        To never let employees grow weary with work – I love to see my team grow smarter, more prosperous, and age gracefully.
9.        Never sell products or services which won’t let you grow, travel and meet interesting people. Business can be the best excuse to express yourself, meet, and travel.
10.        To be the leader in the field, however, narrow the niche may be.
What were your first lessons?
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