India has been traditionally a trading nation. We were never ‘hunter-gatherers ‘as some people were around the world. We are a very old Asian country which shaped itself around agriculture and trade. It can be said business is in our blood from millennia.
The traders from Rajasthan used to carry their wares on camels across the country doing trade. Those were the days when communication was limited to snail mail, letters being posted. Traders from Gujarat and Rajasthan honed and shaped the wisdom of business then. The son would begin working at an early age, joining the father and passing on that knowledge to his son and so on. (I am not mentioning the daughters as then they were meant to be married off, not involved in the business).
India, over the ages, was ruled by many masters including Moguls and British. They too, in their own way brought their wisdom in their methods of trade. This mix and match developed the skills of buying selling, planning, execution, over the centuries.
The modern Indian is now going to foreign universities, gaining MBAs, which over the last 50 years is clashing with traditional business wisdom. Technology has also changed decision making. Data is now available at call, projections of possible results such decisions are possible now. The modern entrepreneurs now rely more on external and bookish wisdom and advice and learnings. Older people are not being consulted in the pass down effect of traditional business thinking and culture, effectively choking the thousands of years of experience.
It’s like the Vastu principles, which relied on thousands of years of cause and effect of where different rooms are laid out, the placement of the kitchen (fire), bathrooms (water) windows and doors, etc. Modern architects no longer rely on tradition, so is it with modern entrepreneurs, who benchmark imported success stories. It’s not that the modern methods are wrong; they have produced large numbers of overnight billionaires.
What India needs a blend of both, the traditional and the new. It’s a new world brought about by modern communications, technology advances, new products which did not exist before. Let us adopt the middle path. Neo Entrepreneurs blended with traditional wisdom, and soon we will rule the world of commerce.
Traditional business skills to help entrepreneurs are:-
1) Business Instinct: It is important to have a business instinct to be able to judge business opportunities as and when they come. This happens by way of being a keen observer of success and failures in others. Long before the Google era, businessmen honed their observation skills. They observed the changing trends and customer preferences. Now you can leverage technology to attain a conclusive understanding using CRM and Date Analysis.
2) Understanding People: Develop a keen understanding of people. It’s essential to be out at business networking events, get to know those who attend such events, etc. Most people are more relaxed and open to talk about their business with a glass in their hands. In-office people are always on their guard. In the present day, social media, online review sites, help to get knowledge of people, be it a vendor, an employee, a potential partner or a client. Understanding the DNA of a person is an essential part of making the right business decisions.
3) Negotiation Skills: From time immemorial, business people have been negotiating, buying or selling. It’s not just haggling. Negotiation goes much beyond that. It entails timelines of delivery or product or service, payment terms, clauses to fall back on in case of defaults or anything going wrong, terms of MOUs or Contracts, etc.
4) Consumer Pulse: It’s very important to know the preferences of your customers. This helps in modulating your offer to suit his needs effectively. If a customer is looking for a round peg, no point in offering a square. Tailor your offers carefully.
By Vikash Mittersain (Chairman & Managing Director, Nazara Technologies Ltd. & Founder & President, India Business Group Chamber of Commerce)...