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 the box, then that happened naturally since we were literally from outside the box - in this case, the beauty industry. Here is the learning 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 a 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 an 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 preconceived 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 learned 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 adaptation 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 the 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.
- Sidelining 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.
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 utilize 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
A peer-to-peer network 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.
The interaction at peer-to-peer platforms is not a theoretical phenomenon or a law or a book of an impractical lecture. Oftentimes, we take decisions in 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.