Vikram has been running his new venture for the last 3 years – business has been up and down; he has not seen a single quarter in which the unit achieved operational break-even. He has been dipping into the savings that had been saved up for a rainy day when he quit a steady job to start this Computer Service business.
23 years back Vikram had completed a Diploma Course in Hardware Technology and added an Advanced Certification in Networking. He first two jobs were with small-time computer service centres, but within 2 years he had been appointed as Service Technician in a leading IT Service Unit with national footprint. He spent 5 years there and then became Manager in the IT Department of a leading organisation. Along the way he got trained in some of the modern methods in hardware service and networking. By the time he left the job with 20 years of rich experience, to launch his own venture, Vikram was Regional Head- IT and had built up a reputation in his chosen field.
Around 5 years before he quit Vikram had lost interest in the job because it was not adding any value to him professionally – work was just routine stuff and he seemed to have reached some sort of plateau. With Indians buying IT products like never before he knew there was a large market out there to be tapped – his idea was to start his own Service Unit. He had spoken to a few friends and they told him to take the plunge – they even promised to chip in with some investment. The other factors that would impact his decision were the following:
- His wife was not employed and so there was no second income to support the family
- Their two children were in high-school – that meant more years of education to fund
- They have a home loan that needed to be serviced for another 10 years
- Vikram was adequately insured and his savings that would see them through 2 years
Vikram felt it was a safe bet and had spoken with his wife about it; she agreed reluctantly because it was a long cherished dream of his.
He started small; he hired 2 technicians and did the marketing on his own. He developed a small website to make himself available to the consumers who searched online for service providers and used his own circle of friends who worked with various organisations in the city. Over a period of time they developed some walk-in clientele too and there were few customers who were unhappy with the work done.
Business came in trickles – Vikram got just enough to pay the staff and for the office expenses. He rarely found enough money in the bank to draw for his own use.
Vikram did not have a grip on marketing – he had never done so in 20 years of employment, not even to market himself to potential employers. During the years he was employed many plum assignments were lost due his lack of influencing and communication skills.
The friends who promised to help with funds and projects went missing when he called for help; a few offered friendly advice on how things can be done. He wanted to appoint a Business Development Executive but had not funds to do so.
There was already a running battle at home because Vikram’s wife had been pushing him to consider returning to a steady job; she even offered to find a job to keep the family going while his business got established. Vikram strongly rejected both suggestions saying that the pain would pass in a few more months.
He strongly believed that his technical skill would see them through. What he did not realise was that the clients had no clue about it because no one spoke with them about his achievements.
Vikram had been in regular touch with Ashok, who was his counterpart at Mumbai in the last organisation he had worked for. This man had quit couple of years before he did and had started a Service Unit there. Ashok worked in a much larger market and was able to achieve stability in 3 years and was now making decent profits too. Recently, Vikram had executed a contract on Ashok’s behalf at Bangalore.
Ashok called him after that project and made an offer. He asked Vikram to move to Bangalore and manage the new unit he was opening there to cater to clients in the South. In the last 5 years he had acquired many large clients who had offices all over India and they felt safe giving the service business to a known entity. Ashok had a good track record as a service provider – he was not as good as Vikram technically but had built a large circle of friends and associates through his networking skills. He had employed employees with good technical skills and they ensured that the work done was of acceptable quality. Ashok paid them well and kept them happy and hence the team was quite stable.
Ashok wanted to take his own dreams to the next level – he wanted to build an organisation that would be known nationally in the IT Service field. With smartphone usage exploding he wanted to tap that market too, but in order to do that he needed someone to take charge of a significant portion of the job he was currently doing.
Hence the proposal to Vikram – he wanted the former colleague to handle the technical aspects and service delivery while he focused on Business Development and new business forays. He knew that Vikram was reliable and competent too.
Vikram was in a quandary – this offer sounded just right. He did not have to make any investment, but would be offered sweat equity for his participation and in addition a monthly salary too was offered for his services. But he would have to end his own dream of growing an organisation- he would have to operate under Vikram brand-name.
- What do you think are the avenues open to Vikram?
- Can Vikram keep his own dream while accepting Ashok’s offer?
Parvathi wakes up at 4.15 a.m., gets ready quickly and is off to work by 5 a.m. She produces shows for the local FM Station. It’s not a desk job; she regularly goes around town interviewing officials, celebrities and commoners for the shows. She comes home usually after 8 p.m. and it can get as late as 11 p.m. of some days. Since the team at the office is being formed afresh, almost from scratch, after a major shakeout, she is currently producing 3 shows. In due course the workload would come down, she says, but the present load does not deter or discourage her.
Parvathi is energized by the results she achieves and the benefits that would accrue in the medium and long term with each success. Her CEO is so impressed with the success of the shows and the increased listenership that he has instructed HR to send all new recruits to her for training – maybe to transfuse a bit of her qualities to each new employee. She says this to me with a lot of pride, not with a “Damn! One more job!”-expression.
How does she do it? ENERGY!!
Rachna, Parvathi’s friend, used to be an RJ. Now she is an actor, dance teacher and English instructor all rolled into one.
Every two weeks she comes into town to act in a TV Serial. Rachna spends the intervening night of the 2-day schedule with us – it’s safer than the lodging provided by the producers, she says.
5-days, each week, she is in another town taking English classes for IELTS hopefuls. And finally on weekends she is back at her own home; not for the well-earned rest – she gives dance lessons on both days. Amazing!
Rachna is always bubbly and full of life; cracking jokes and flitting about even after the hectic day at the shoot. What keeps her going?
You guessed it …………. it’s ENERGY!
This is one factor that clearly divides the winners from the also-rans. Yes, I know, you are going to say that there is belief, commitment and so many other factors; and you wouldn’t be wrong.
What if you believe you are the best, but refuse to do anything about it? What if you are totally committed to a cause and never took the first step to support it?
Energy helps to translate beliefs and commitments into action. Energy comes from the vision of a better tomorrow and from feeling empowered. You intuitively know that there is going to be a pay-off for your efforts. You are sure that all the blockades can be surmounted and that something better, richer and enjoyable lies on the other side of your efforts.
Don’t stop at the corner store for an Energy Bar; like Parvathi & Rachna, find it inside you!
Wow! 3 days into the new year already! “Yalla, Habibi!!” My Arab friends would say. Get going … time to gather momentum!
This morning I spoke with a close friend, now living in the USA.
He is a model of what I constantly aspire to be, but fall short of for want of consistency. I have some distance to cover before I can honestly say that I am focused on just the essentials, and what’s relevant.
Today, I get involved in a lot of stuff – particularly, on Social Media – way beyond what is really my core subject. It’s fun and engaging, but terribly distracting and delusional. Activity on Social Media makes you believe that you are in it and gainfully occupied, but in reality you may be frittering away the most perishable resource, Time – and your LIFE!
Yesterday, I read an article, by a young entrepreneur, about the importance of Doing – he stressed that Effort is the only thing we can really control. He was only repeating what wise folks have been saying for millennia, but it’s an important insight gained – once internalized you are on your way to lasting success.
My friend truly practices that. He left Indian shores more than 2 decades back armed with an M.Com. Degree; after reaching USA he added a CPA to his credentials – he does not waste much time on anything that distracts him from his goal. From the time I met him, back in 1978, I have only seen him doing what’s important – his job, the teaching assignments he did post work and his self-development activities.
Today, while the American Economy is tottering and many Americans are out of jobs he has a full-time Government job, a teaching assignment at the local University and an independent Tax Consulting practice (the last two with the permission of his Superiors).
It’s a living example for the returns you can expect from Effort!
His journey has not been without disappointments – being an outsider he is at a disadvantage and has not been given what he is justifiably due – but then, that has never got him down. He gives each day the best shot and it has paid him handsome dividends.
He has a fabulous house (Trust me on that!), goes on vacation every year and his son goes to the University – now what percentage of Americans can echo such a boast. But he does not boast about it – it’s just me saying it in passing!
The definition of Effort in Physics is Force applied against inertia. How apt!!
As Sales Professional, execute your plan rigorously – Eat the Broccoli first! Yes, do everything that you don’t like doing.
- Make that call – spend more time with the customer
- Prospect – strengthen your pipeline
- Write reports – put more measurable information into it
- Solve customer complaints – Happy customers give more revenue
- Analyze the quality of your work and make the necessary corrections
- Attend that Industry Seminar or Training Program you have been postponing
Ruthlessly eliminate all activities that don’t matter and focus just on the ones that will make you a Winner.
Do! Do! Do! ….. Do you read me?