From the Editor's Desk
Can entrepreneurship be taught? If so how? These questions arise in the minds of all those who wish to hold the 'baton' of entrepreneurship in the race of success. Mr. Ajay Wahi, author, and the award for BEST SME of the year goes to... strives to suppliment all information that any entrepreneur wishes to receive, through his book. In an exclusive online interview with Krishnakumar C K, Editor, Small Enterprise India.com, Mr. Wahi shares the inspiration and the motive that prompted him to pen this book.
Mr. Ajay Wahi began his career with a bluechip software corporate in 1985. He started his career in Sales and Product Management. At present, Ajay heads yet another SME which is an Indian subsidiary of a renowned French IT company.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
1. What is the core inspiration for authoring the book And the Award for Best SME of the Year goes to?
Having worked for the SMEs, I learnt many aspects of business the hard way ( and thus the long way) on how to retain people in SMEs as they all want to jump the ship and move into larger companies., I also learnt the hard way, how to get them skilled up and put in place the best processes and implement productivity measures considering that SMEs are up against time and lack experienced people who could advise. Since most of the consultants eye large companies, SMEs always have to learn the hard way.
It is the SMEs which will propel the Indian economy into higher growth. Given this background, I thought of offering consulting services to SMEs. But, as consulting is not a scale-able model and I cannot be every where at the same time, I thought of packaging my experience as a product, the Book, which is scale-able.
2. Who are the target audience for your book? And what are the key concepts mentioned in the book?
SMEs, Start ups and Entrepreneurs would for sure find this book extremely useful. It would be an excellent read for the managements of foreign companies that have India operations. In nutshell, CXOs and HR Heads across corporates could be considered as the target audience.
Key Concepts: SMEs need support for sales, strategy, production, automation, IT, branding, and finally, people management. However, in my book, I highlight PEOPLE for one main reason: They are the common factor across all the above areas. So if people are not happy and not productive, then the best of strategies is doomed to fail!
That is why, rather than diluting the focus and attempting to talk of the many diverse aspects of SMEs, I prefer to focus on people and the enabling environment in my book ‘and the award For Best SME of the year goes to –‘. I believe firmly that if people and the enabling environment are taken care of, the chances of a company’s success are very high.
3. In what all ways the book will benefit the readers?
For start-ups, they can simply understand my experience and customise it for each of the following areas such as: training, process, productivity, motivation, employee mind set, risk management, healthy culture etc. So for them, rather then spending money and months thinking through all the key issues, they can simply read from my book and implement. So, it is like plus and play for them. For existing SMEs, they can match their existing implementation with all what I suggested and see the gaps, get ready made stuffs to plug the gaps etc. For foreign companies having Indian operations which could be like SME in most cases, they can learn from this book how to manage their Indian operations better. Lastly, even senior managers in large companies can benefit form the book on how to run their department better considering that to some extent each department in a big companies is like one SME unit!
Finally, for all professionals, the book offers a big advantage that it is easy to read as each chapter is just 2-3 pages and you could read what ever your time permits and start again from the next chapter.Its not like a story that would compel you to read in one shot.
4. What are the key management aspects mentioned in the book? Could you briefly mention?
Any activity in any organisation requires management around aspects covering planning, organising, implementing, monitoring, controlling , evaluating and finally taking improvement actions for future activities for all these aspects. My book exactly covers all these aspects sharing HOW I did this in past companies. It will provide value to the management to understand how these aspects can be implemented from a PEOPLE perspective.
5. What is the uniqueness of the book, and how this book differs from general management guides?
It is different and unique in certain manners. One, it is easy to read in these sense, it has 101 chapters and each chapter is just 3 pages which makes it quick to learn and read as much as one wants for the day and re-start from tomorrow without any memory loss.
Second, unlike many books which are more of concepts, this one is down to earth and tell you all: HOW, WHY, WHEN, WHERE. Third, it is like a plug and play book. Read it and implement it quickly. I do not feel that thee are plug and play books in market.
6. Now the entrepreneurship trend is buzzing among youngsters. What insights this book can provide for them?
Youngsters are the future and they are infact the ones who will propel India into next level of growth. Many of them have wonderful business ideas. To make a business successful, you need to have the right technical and sales and people management competencies besides cash! Youngsters normally think that if they can team up with their partners and combine the sales and technical competencies, they would succeed. The business starts and in their eagerness to ramp up sales, technology etc, they forget the people aspect as that does not seem to have any positive impact until people leave and bomb drops!
For them, it would be beneficial to read this book and get started on the people aspect. Lastly, they could also read this book and get insights into what sort of budgets and manpower they need to plan for while opening their business considering that all these activities are important but cost money which can be planned in advance rather than coming as a shock later
7. According to you, what is the important quality/ability a CEO should possess?
No business succeeds without commitment and passion and patience and a CEO should have this to begin with. You can start the most common business and yet succeed over competitors if you have the passion. A new idea with no passion and no competitor may just fail.
Love for employees is a must. Respect them, their aspirations and help them to become successful.
A major chunk of neo entrepreneurs belong to MSME segment today. What is your take on the current MSME scenario in India?
SMEs are the future pillars and the government needs to foster their growth. SMEs should form associations and approach the government with their needs. SMEs should now look at technology seriously for their activities. Cloud computing offers them the opportunity to own IT infra at lower costs. SMEs need to focus on digital marketing as that is the future and is economical as well.
SMEs need to look at outsourcing. As an SME you are expected to perform all functions but then you may not have the experience for all. So outsource and just focus on your core strength.
8. What are the major challenges the MSMEs in India face currently? According to you what are the solutions to overcome these challenges?
SMEs need support for cash, expense rebates, technology hand holding, marketing ideas etc. There are 2 solutions. One, the Government should fund the companies which can do free seminars in all cities for all SMEs. Second, the SMEs should get together city wise and industry wise and do their own sharing on their common issues.
9. What would be the strategy shift you would like to advice for the overall MSME fraternity in India?
There are two broad strategic shifts I would like to advise. Do not follow the traditional model of doing business. There are newer methods emerging. Seriously look ay digital marketing, cloud computing, outsourcing. Be different and then only you will succeed. Second, make people part of your venture. Treat them as partners, give them equity, and implement ideas from my book. Twenty years from now, India will be the only country which will have max people in the age group 25 to 40. The world then will demand employable workforce which only India can offer. So respect them and retain them in India, else lose them to the other countries!
10. What is your message towards the young entrepreneurs in India?
Your time has come. Never has it been better for the youngsters to start their won ventures. You can start anything. Learn from the success of other entrepreneurs. Be different, and start something with passion, the success will be yours.