As a child, I used to wonder where mosquitoes in winter hide, why fish keep swimming, how birds learn to fly and other such 'un-natural' occurrences. After a career in marketing & communications for over 20 years, building and running businesses of excellent sizes and in many a geography, hiring and training dozens of successful managers, I continue to be aggressively curious about beings and things. In 2011, I co-founded Friends of Ambition, a Business Growth Platform for Middle India. It works with growth-minded businesses in Middle India and helps them professionalize their operations, build internal capability and become agile. Our focus on Middle India [a.k.a Tier 2 towns] stems from a strong conviction that the next several decades of explosive business growth in India will come from that geography. As I often find myself in cities and towns I might have only heard of just a few months ago, meet business owners there and hear their stories, dreams and challenges, I feel a sense of elation and sadness, sometimes simultaneously. This blog is a chronicle of my experiences in Middle India - mostly gleaned from real life encounters with business owners, their influencers and well wishers.
India ranked as low as 66 in the Global Innovation Index last year. It slipped to 76 this year. Do we really understand what innovation means?
Are all entrepreneurs ambitious? How does ambition influence entrepreneurial behaviour? Is there a relationship between entrepreneurial ambition and decision making, innovativess, and approach to business building? In this post, we try to understand the different ambition profiles.
Are all entrepreneurs similar? Do all create value? Are all of them risk friendly? Is it correct to assume that all entrepreneurs are ambitious? Or innovative? Some of the answers may lie in understanding the starting context - why someone entered business.
Business owners in Middle India have a particularly specific challenge of decision making. As the business needs to grow rapidly and the complexity and cost of decisions rise, can they afford to decide based largely on hunches and intuition? I don’t believe so
Between starting and growing, entrepreneurs often confront a crucial, rather non-glamorous phase called STAYING. It does not get as much prominence in entrepreneur and investor talk as starting, raising [funds] or exiting, but it’s perhaps the most important and the most difficult phase of all. Young people starting businesses in our big cities need to learn what entrepreneurs in Middle India already practice.
The talent challenge now is not restricted to any single type of company or industry, it is universal. When it comes to small but rapidly growingly businesses, the owner-CEO is the de facto Head of HR and therefore, the HR practice starts and ends with him. Many of them have trouble ‘letting go’, a critical leadership skill whose absence can stunt organisational growth.
Counter intuitive though it may sound, it's often practical to be clean. One of the biggest challenges growing businesses face is attracting outside money. I have come to understand over the last few months that private money usually does not get attracted towards creatively managed 'books'. In fact, in today's world, it is often the opposite.
To be located in a mid size town does not mean you cannot thing big and execute big. Two first generation entrepreneurs in Middle India's Nagpur are living a responsibility each of us have - to create new jobs and put our city on the world map. Here's a little bit of their story. So far.
Are businessmen in Middle India really different in their approach and behaviour from their counterparts in the Metros? Are they really ambitious? Individual interactions with seven smart entrepreneurs in Nagpur last week, got me thinking. This and the next few posts provide food for thought.