THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING THE RIGHT MENTOR TO HELP SCALE THE ENTREPRENEUR TO GREATER HEIGHTS
Publication: Entrepreneur India Online
Spokesperson: Vikram Bhatt, Founder and Director, Enrich Salons & Academy
Topic: The Importance of having the right mentor to help scale the entrepreneur to greater heights
Date: June 12, 2017
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING THE RIGHT MENTOR TO HELP SCALE THE ENTREPRENEUR TO GREATER HEIGHTS
Overview and takeaways from Vikram’s entrepreneurial journey:
Enrich started as a friendly venture, where two friends supported the third who was the only one who had domain knowledge and technical know-hows about the beauty business. A few years down the road, this partner decided to move on, at which point the remaining two made the choice of continuing with the venture – learning the ropes and evolving it into what we know today as the Enrich Salons and Academy chain.
Since we were new to the domain, we brought what we knew from our work experience into the business. This proved to be rather advantageous. If innovation is thinking out of box, then that happened naturally since we were literally from outside the box – in this case the beauty industry. Here are a few learnings from our journey so far:
- Organic growth of business: A business that generates positive cash-flow, with no debtors, is capable of achieving good organic growth. Ensure that there is minimal external funding with maximum turnover so as make your business more self-sustainable.
- People-centric offering: The primary aim of any venture is value-creation. If one is able to offer something that people love and require, one has successfully won over clients. Positive goodwill is created which generates frequency of repeat visits and loyalty value. For the client, the requirement is generally dual-fold: Extrinsic, which is the need to look good and Intrinsic, which is the need to FEEL good. Thus, the importance of the service provider was magnified.
- Building trust among clients: Trust of the client is of utmost importance. Ensuring optimum level of quality service and keeping your client happy is where the true key to a successful business lies. Working in the personal space of the customer inherently increases the likelihood of the customer giving you their complete trust.
- Transitioning a luxury into a necessity: An important factor of any business is to keep up with the current social developments, trends and habits of the end consumer. With social development, the aspirational outlook of people will get enhanced. Thus, certain sectors such as grooming would experience good growth, since there would be a high percentage of people for whom this will become a necessity.
- Cluster approach: A prime focus should be on making the business profitable first and only then follow the expansion of its size. Hence, launch and sustain multiple outlets in a single market first instead of creating a single outlet across multiple markets. This facilitates the organic and sustainable growth of the business.
- Growth barometer: Setting metrics and sharing data across the team propagates a culture of transparency for better management. Setting up regular benchmarks backed with substantial and legitimate facts and figures helps the employees understand better the current placement of their company.
Challenges faced by entrepreneurs and solutions offered
The challenge in every growth story of the venture is how to differentiate the brand as a unique entity and not just a generic enterprise and how to make the offering relevant and value-worthy to the customer.
Setting pre-conceived notions: Entrepreneurs usually follow a set notion of traditional industry practices and blanket rules that have been implemented through the years. Hence, they often kill the creativity required to invent unique strategies and solutions to the problems faced. In our case, since we came from a different domain, we had no pre-conceived notions, so we were compelled to question everything and take nothing for granted.
- Neglecting the importance of best practices: Entrepreneurs with prior experience in different domains often forget to capture the lessons learnt from their previous experiences. It is important for an entrepreneur to accumulate and assimilate his learnings over the years so it serves an all-rounded approach to drive his business to its maximum potential in a minimum time-frame.
- Lack of sound knowledge, regular apprising of industry technicality and knowledge: After being in an industry for a while, entrepreneurs start becoming lax in their updatation of the developments in their industry. The entrepreneur should consistently be technically sound and constantly abreast of the happenings in his industry.
- Neglecting regular brand evolution and strategy innovation: Due to the lax in attitude of conducting regular market surveys, entrepreneurs neglect the importance of reinventions and redeveloped business strategies. This should be consistently practiced to provide the business an edge over its counterparts, which sets it in a league of its own.
- Side-lining the importance of feedback management: Regular customer feedback is extremely important but is often neglected or left unattended. Ironically, this is the most important factor upon which your business has its foundation.
The importance of mentorship and right guidance to an entrepreneur
A novice entrepreneur, while starting out, sets foot upon a brand new, unfamiliar landscape. The future is uncertain and the route is still being mapped. It is natural to seek the guidance of one who has navigated through a similar path before and utilise that knowledge and experience to better his own journey. In a start-up, at the growth phase, entrepreneurs are likely to take decisions, where the plausibility of the returns depends upon multiple factors. While traditional relationships and friendships are encouraging and may provide personal guidance, the entrepreneur requires impartial feedback, advice and experiences from a more unbiased, honest and fresh perspective. This should ideally be from someone who is not personally or directly involved with the entrepreneur or the business. Peer-to-peer platforms are a great way to provide such impersonal redressal mechanisms. Fellow-members of these platforms adopt the role of mentors and help the entrepreneur refine his thought-process and enable him to take informed and calculative risks. It is when the mentor notices a similar pattern with another entrepreneur while veering off-course, can he can guide him back onto the correct path.
How peer-to-peer networks accelerate the growth of an entrepreneur through anecdotes from Vikram’s own entrepreneurial journey
A peer-to-peer network, such as ASCENT, encourages sharing of ideas, experiences, challenges as well as solutions. Irrespective of the diverse domains we serve in, at the end of the day, we are all entrepreneurs facing similar challenges. Here, members narrate, in the form of testimonials, the professional hurdles through their journey and how they have been able to overcome them. This serves as live case studies and learning examples to the others in the group. I would like to support the above statements with a few anecdotes that demonstrate how being a member of a peer-to-peer platform, viz. ASCENT, has benefitted my personal and professional growth immensely:
Our enterprise, by nature, is a seasonal one. The grooming, wellness and beauty industry depends much upon the festival, climate, vacation, etc. A few years ago, when I had just recently become a member at a peer to peer platform, we were ideating upon the aspect of running our business as efficaciously during the off-seasons as it does during its peak-seasons. While sharing this concern with my peers, one colleague shared with us how her company had created their own business strategy to boost sales. The birthday of the company’ founder was turned into Founder’s Day, on which they would provide a corresponding percentage of value addition to their customers. This example struck a note with me and made me realise that I don’t need to have such a tunnel-vision by taking an immediate decision for the business. Instead, we could perhaps provide up-front booking to our customers and give them time to redeem those points, at a later given time as well, thus bridging the gap of the lull during off-seasons.
Another example where I feel I have been able to contribute to the platform is sharing my own professional knowledge and expertise with my peers. This is in reference to the above point I had made about remembering to bring in your previous work experiences and lessons into your current job as well. Due to my professional learning background and previous experience with Accenture, I am well-versed with the various systems and processes in a business, financial reporting scorecards, etc. I had shared this knowledge with my peers on business structuring and the need to monitor parameters, which had been very well-received.
The interaction at peer-to-peer platforms is not a theoretical phenomenon or a law or a book of impractical lecture. Oftentimes, we take decisions on our own organizations – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Through group therapy and healthy discussions, we are able to boost the confidence and decision-making process in each other. We all learn from the other through our own life experiences. That’s how we, as humans, are wired. As they say, if the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, if you must – but never the goal.