Experience, experiment, explore: Three-step business owner's guide

A business school might teach you a lot, but hands on experience and a mentor can bring a lot to the table

Rajeev Shroff
Updated: Jan 7, 2019 10:41:11 AM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

Remember the time you decided to venture out on your own? The days of struggle, the relentless researching, never ending enquiries, possible networking opportunities, word-of-mouth promotions, and a one-man army that was ready to take on the world. A while later when you succeeded in your area of expertise, you considered diversifying. But this decision had to be made after a thorough risk analysis.

Taking risks is a part of business. But if you kept saying yes to every risk, without weighing the pros and cons, you could have also lost your business. When it comes to maintaining the margins in the balance sheets, it can be extremely tempting to oblige to any project that comes along. But if it’s not a cultural fit and does not agree with your business ethics, it can do more harm than good.

While there are no official rules as such for the business to flourish, I personally recommend these tried and tested golden guidelines.

Experience: A much-needed reality check to keep you rooted
While business school taught you a lot, it could never replace first-hand, on-ground, hands-on experience. That eventually came from having observed the industry and its evolving trends. But what if it could have been an easier journey?

Earlier, the industry was volatile and uncertain. Now, it is ruthlessly competitive. A mentor can not only help you plan for the short-term deliverables but also aid you in strategising long-term goals. A wider perspective towards your career will help you plan better. In times of confusion, a veteran can groom you to make quality decisions even when there’s a crisis to be handled. Giving you that much needed push when you are low, but also critically evaluating and providing feedback, when you end up getting used to looking through tinted glasses.

Experiment: What’s the difference between offloading and delegating?
A leader tends to lose sight of where his business is going when bogged down by too much of ‘piled up’ work. Expansion plans, permissions, talent acquisition, salaries and perks, the list is endless. Helping hands may help offload the burden, but unless the work is allocated with prioritisation, there is bound to be commotion.

Hiring experts to help you recruit right and bringing consultants on board to help you strategise the bigger picture can make a huge difference. Yes, the business will be the slow at the beginning; especially if you have introduced something new. But when you have a meticulous plan in place, the business growth can be orchestrated with ease. Delegating work also saves a lot of time. It allows you to shoulder responsibilities better and create customised standard operating procedures (SOPs) that will ultimately reflect on your people retention charts.

Explore: An insured plan B for safe-keeping
Some people believe that having a backup plan means you’re not 100 percent committed to your business. But having a Plan B becomes extremely critical when you have people depending on you. It’s a responsibility that sometimes keeps you awake all night and slowly interferes with your weekend plans.

What happens when you have to ‘take a break’ for your mental well-being? Having a backup plan is the number one rule of risk management and can cushion the blow of sudden market changes, in your absence. It gives your business something to fall back on, keeps the people calm that their livelihoods have been accounted for, and keeps the cash flow in check as well. A win-win situation every way.

You matter as well
With the vast outreach of social media and news often being hyped, young minds today are susceptible to easy income. A concept that the millennial generation identifies with as ‘Instant gratification’. Overnight success stories could be a factor of luck or fabricated as a bait to lure you in a web of unaccounted wealth.

While it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on, it is extremely important that every once in a while, you take time off to explore new avenues. Re-connect with your inner passion and experiment to see if it can be interspersed with work. If Rome couldn’t be built in one night, your empire too is in the making.

All successful leaders have one major attribute in common – Empathy. Just as you are empathetic towards your employees, also ensure that you have some empathy for yourself. While striving towards setting an example for your employees to follow, ensure that you have plenty of experiences that have been a result of your experiments, and will lead you on a path of continuous learning as well as exploration. It is your positive energy that drives the people. Once the people are driven, business will take care of itself.

The author is a Transformation Coach & Consultant and the founder of Cupela, a company that helps aspiring leaders define their direction through a series of powerful and purposeful conversations

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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