Simply enter the words "best strategies for entrepreneurs" in any search engine and you will get hundreds of results in a fraction of second. This freely available content for sure inspires us or gives us some food for thought but logically entrepreneurs should not completely rely on this universe of secondary information. In Kashmir entrepreneurs have unique set of problems, right from ineffective government policies to fragile geopolitical situation, however at the same time there are various niche opportunities as well. If entrepreneurs are able decode the success mantra, then nobody can stop them from becoming successful, self-sustainable, economically sound and role model for coming generations.
Here are some handpicked, best and proven success strategies co-created by some of the best entrepreneurs which were later enriched and implemented by global MNCs (multinational companies). All of them are technically simple and self-explanatory.
1) Innovation: Entrepreneurs define Innovation as their master key to create competitive advantage, achieve the desired goals and taste success. Large and successful organizations have a separate team commonly known as 'the business innovation force'. This team is responsible for generating a cloud of ideas, short listing the most lucrative innovations and putting them into action, however in entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs themselves are innovators and are responsible for end to end innovation process. Innovation could be an entirely new product or service or simply 'value addition' to any product or service. Value addition is more suitable to Kashmiri entrepreneurs at this stage.
Let's take an example of our horticulture business. From decades fruit growers as well as Kashmiri C&F agents have been selling fresh fruits as well as dry fruits either in local markets or fruits mandies such as Azadpur Mandi in New Delhi or fruit mandies across other states. Only successful value addition we did in past was 'the packaging'. So what can our entrepreneurs innovate other then juice manufacturing and food processing? To understand this now let's take a look at any personal care product, such as shampoos, conditioners, hair oils face wash or any personal grooming stuff. Every branded and unbranded company is using fruit extracts or ingredients from fruits, precisely walnut and almond extracts for hair care and apple and saffron extracts for face-wash and face creams, they are making billions of rupees on these tag lines saying their product 'contains natural fruit extracts'. To be precise CAGR surged to 13% from 6.2% (2009-2014) after natural substances were added to personal care products. We can do a one step value addition to sell fruit extracts to these companies at reasonable cost.
There could be thousand other ways to innovate our horticulture economy and other areas as well but we need to think and innovate, if innovation fades at any point, consider your venture is no more in business. Innovation must be your passion; it should create value and make a positive change in people's lives.
2) CPI – Continuous Process Improvement: CPI is the second most important aspect. Practically no company/organisation can survive without a strong CPI strategy. As far as successful organisations are concerned they implement advanced strategies for process improvement, such as Kaizen, Six sigma, Lean and TQM. Many use hybrid models like Lean Six Sigma too.
Similarly entrepreneurs also implement these strategies depending upon which one suits their process. It is not mandatory that entrepreneurs in Kashmir should hire a black belt in six sigma or an expert in CPI; they can themselves learn this process without any hurdle. All of the processes are self explanatory and can be swiftly implemented even if one has a very small process or staff. Here entrepreneurs' basic as well as best tool is DMAIC (Define, measure, analyse, implement and control).
Let's take an example of service industry in valley. Theoretically we are the best in serving our guests and customers. However, practically it is limited to catering and hotel sector only. On ground we do very less to improve our quality of service. Organised automobile sector has dedicated staff for sales and when we buy a new vehicle they treat us very well but once we go for repair work, actual headache starts. So many customers become irritated only due to lack of standard operating procedures / protocols (SOPs) in place. I have seen media highlighting these issues. It was observed that mainly spare parts and lack of trained staff on new aged electronic systems create 85 percent of these service related issues. Here CPI and its allies come to rescue; once CPI is implemented for sure we can do wonders in both products as well as in services sector. Entrepreneurs need to take initiative, collaborate well with staff and get the best CPI strategy implemented as early as possible.
3) Technology: On a broader level, technology has changed the way we live and think. It is very difficult to sustain in market place without use of technology. Bigger organisations have technology driven tools for almost all of their processes. Successful entrepreneurs put technology to work for them. Be it automatic attendance system or employee transportation structure, everything is automated and of course online too. First our entrepreneurs need to analyse what kind of technology can make their process more efficient, productive and reduce the overall cost. One process which I know is 'going paperless'. Paperless environment does not only save money and environment but it is the easiest way to save all your data by creating simple backups.
4) FP&S -Future Products and Service: Working on future products and service is a guarantee that entrepreneurs will be in business for many generations. Working on future products is somehow different from innovation. Innovative products or services can be put on track in present and customers accept them with open arms however FP&S cannot be put into action now. Here bigger organisations make huge investments so that they can be ready with FP&S. They analyse the needs which would arise in future and systematically built their armoury of FP&S. Many entrepreneurs have taken bold steps and they have included these FP&S in their 'vision and mission' statements in contrast global family run MNCs keep FP&S under wraps.
5) Talent management: Last but not least, talent (human resources) is the backbone of any organisation. Entrepreneurs can replace a faulty machine or system in few minutes to obtain same productivity and efficiency but this is not true for human resources. Talent is God's gift and every human being has a unique talent which cannot be replicated. Retaining talent is a big challenge. From last two decades it has been a pain area for human resource departments as well as for the management. Entrepreneurs should have one clear concept 'people do not work for organisations, they work for people', 'they work for them'. Entrepreneurs need to be in personal touch with employees, understand them and take them along. In any worst case scenario employees are the ones who will stay with you on rollercoaster ride of your business situations.
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