The concept of ‘entrepreneur’ is way more romanticized than what it is in reality. As of 2018, 90 per cent of Indian start-ups failed within their first five years of existence, according to a study by IBM Institute For Business Value and Oxford Economics. The hard truth is that being an entrepreneur means keeping your company, and yourself, at the very cutting-edge of change; for if you do not, the alternative is failure.
It is not all gloom and doom though. Disruptors in almost every sector have emerged and flourished, be it transportation, accommodation, and even food delivery. Commentators have declared that what we are witnessing today is no less than the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. Surviving, and even thriving in this environment is possible, but only if you and your organization work hard at staying ahead of the curve. Here are nine steps that can help you on your journey.
Improve your organization’s internal process
Successful businesses are built around good processes that help identify what tasks are imperative to achieve larger business goals, increase efficiency and to streamline communication between people, functions and departments. Irrespective of any shift in manpower, your internal process should be strong enough to not let it hamper customer satisfaction.
Some enterprises follow processes because they are part of best practices. However, it is upto you—the employer—to identify what works for your employees and your company. Despite how glowingly reviewed or extensively adopted a process is, your internal processes have to support your vision, keep your employees’ interests at heart and of course blend with the company culture.
Hire the right people
When you hire people, you are not just hiring them for the said position. You are also hiring them for the senior position they can reach in your organization. Look for the same skills that you expect from their reporting managers. The advantage with such employees is simple: you can not only trust them to efficiently complete their designated tasks but also to focus on the bigger picture and work accordingly.
Work on your organization’s productivity
Just as it is important that your employees do not burn out, it is also necessary to prevent any sloth from creeping into processes. Understand what makes your employees tick. How can you compliment your best performers? Side by side, are you working with those employees who are stuck in a rut and have been unable to perform at their best? As important as processes are, how your employees—who are part of these processes—work (or do not work) is equally relevant.
Strive to enhance customer experience
What is your product (or service)? Who are you selling it to? Is your product something aspirational for your customers? Who are your direct competitors? What are you offering your potential customers so as to ensure they will prefer your product over your competitors’? Know the answers to these questions, and ensure your employees do too. If your employees are aware of your company’s focus and your product’s USP, all their conversations with present customers and potential clients will reflect the same. This will result in higher customer acquisition and retention. By and large, you should provide customers with a reason to come back to you.
Turn up on social media, if you haven’t already yet
Your social media channels will help you to market yourself better or to find prospective clients; but there is more to it than that. Through social media, however, your organization can directly capitalize on any good publicity; it can also do some timely firefighting or address an irate customer directly.
Stay well-informed of the business environment
The socio-economic condition of your company’s market is very crucial, for even a sudden change can impact your enterprise in unforeseen ways. For some, coronavirus has meant the disruption of supply chains. For some—particularly those in the healthcare space—it is a challenge and an opportunity, all the while being under intense scrutiny in the public eye. Is your company prepared for it?
Additionally, though it may sound obvious, keep a watch on what your competitors are doing, and learn from their successes and failures.
It goes without saying, but networking is a requisite for every entrepreneur. Use forums and meetings to interact with global industry experts. Learn from the steps in their journey to becoming market leaders. Look to form mutually beneficial partnerships with other companies.
Upgrade your skills and that of your employees
In the span of 10 years, we have gone from storing data in compact discs to pen drives to now, the cloud. However, while we have invested to keep pace with these technological changes, have your employees also kept pace with these changes? Help up-skill your employees, and this will not just increase their productivity, but also help your business reap the benefits of their upgraded skill sets. A company which looks out for its employees’ best interests will never lack great candidates.
Not just learn, be ready to unlearn as well
Most focus on learning without realizing how important unlearning is. The same processes which worked a year ago may not work—and may even fail—now. It is vital to understand this and be prepared for it. Keep an open mind, and get ready to change as the situation demands. As we said above, the customer is king.
I would like to conclude with the words of Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum: “The bottom line is the same: business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.”