India has always been a retailing nation. Perhaps one in the disguise of an agricultural retailer. But it has always sold. That’s in our DNA. With times, we have seen #MadeInIndia take on a new face – the face of a start up.
Today, every consultant is an entrepreneur dreaming of raising funds, selling his stake and moving on to the next perceived challenge.
Is this success? You raise a bunch of money and sell out before you can sneeze – and that’s supposed to be the new definition of achievement? I started my business as a start up – on credit cards. That’s right. Credit cards. I got the line of credit from an east Asian banking institution who perhaps laughed their way to their vaults because I struggled, pulled along and took bigger lines of credit.
Here is one advice from one start up that began 15 years ago with the dream of selling smiles, not the company.
1. Always believe in your ability to pull through. No, you don’t need investors in your early stages. Self-sustenance is the way to go.
2. An investor is in love with money. There is a reason he bets on you. To double his return. An entrepreneur has to be in love with his customer. There is a reason his customer has given his product or service a chance in the first place.
3. If dealing with investors, be open. Be clear about your terms. India is the new market and the new supplier. Business isn’t going to die down any time soon. So stick to your guns. It will pay off.
4. Talk to your customers more than you talk about raising funds. If you are obsessed with raising funds, your customers will ultimately see you as a big drowning boat.
5. If you are planning to raise funds, ask yourself, do you really need to? If yes, investors are not the only option. Structured sales deals, credits, loans and other entrepreneurs are also of help. Entrepreneurs are always compassionate and will always help you, not only monetarily, but with their experiences of raising money as well.
6. Let’s say you do have investors. Work with them on mutual terms. Tell them the true picture. Be transparent with them. Just don’t be nude. That’s best kept for your better half.
To the start up guys of today, I value your drive and your ambition.
I value the value you are creating as the face of India. I value the disruption you are bringing to India. I value your product and your service – it is priceless to India because you are making India self-sufficient. Stick it out. And who knows, maybe a few years later, you will be one of the most talked about brands! #Don’tSellOut