‘What courses should I join? What do I need to learn?’ I’m often asked
this by college students.
But here, they were being debated on a very different forum. This was a DQ
Channels awards event in Delhi. The panelists and the audience were discussing a
major challenge for the year ahead: How to make the quantum leap in business.
From tiny to bigger. From entrepreneur to businessman. From ad-hoc,
small-time proprietorship to professionally-managed business. That’s the
challenge many of them will be grappling with, in a year full of opportunity,
It’s not as if the vendors or the resellers are suddenly interested in
academics. This is a very focused, practical, hands-on community. But therein
lies the problem too, said those panelists. The owners and proprietors were so
neck deep in day to day ‘ops’ that they had no time to step back and think.
No time for development-their own, their company, their people. No time to
strategize, think long-term, look at three-year growth. No time even to
And that’s why so many of them remain one-shop operations: they don’t
have time to think of expansion, or the inclination to think of franchises. They
don’t have time to absorb the collected, filtered wisdom of successful
businesses and marketing gurus, available not just through training workshops
but through so many books, and magazine articles. With 2% margins, attrition,
competition…who has the time to read?
So things like Focus! and branding are not common knowledge. How to scale up
is not part of common wisdom. Except for the few who manage to absorb, learn,
apply, and distinguish themselves and their businesses.
And nor does this describe just the small dealers and proprietorships. It
applies equally to larger services, software and distribution businesses. Even a
family owned business can use professional management, focus, strategy, branding
to grow into a giant: take Reliance, or Bharti.
On the other hand, there are enough tech vendors and software companies who
have remained small over the decades. Their owners are typically hands on with
the business, running ops. Most decisions need to run though ‘the boss’. The
boss is so busy sanctioning purchases, signing off on deals, hiring and firing…that
he has no time to develop (and delegate to) an effective second level.
So here’s the challenge for those chiefs who want their businesses to
emerge leaders in the year ahead, way ahead of the also-rans: develop and
delegate enough to step away from ops. Focus on the future, beyond the next
month and quarter. Look beyond how to train recruits, toward how to retrain
yourself, at your own development and education. Learn what you can from the
best global companies.
And scale up.