Setting up a business in today’s time has become a cakewalk, with easier administrative procedures and flexible credit options. But in the 70’s it was much tougher to not just start a business, but maintain its momentum and expand from there on.
At just 19, a daring Vijay Sankeshwar decided to take on the challenge and started VRL Logistics with just one truck. Today, VRL is India’s largest logistics firm, also known for being the owner of the largest fleet of commercial vehicles in India. Hard to imagine such a big company had humble beginnings in 1976, but Sankeshwar strongly believed in the future of the sector and there was just no looking back for him.
Entrepreneur India sat down with the logistics czar to decode the key principles he followed through the years to take the company to such great heights.
Strict Financial Dealings
A successful business model needs to be generating profits eventually, no matter how long it takes to break even. Sankeshwar faced challenges too, as it took quite some time for VRL to generate profits. But once it did, he stuck to his principle of strict financial dealings.
"One of the key things I learned was dealing strictly when it comes to financials, whether it was receiving money or making financial dealings on time. This golden rule has helped the business out of limbo in various situations and help maintain prosperity over the years, " he said.
Abiding by the Law
Adhering to legal nuances can be taxing sometimes, but it must be done benefit the company in the long run.Operating outside the law can also be lucrative to attain certain windfall gains, but none of that attracted Sankeshwar.
"Back in 1976 having a truck business meant getting lured into the illegal domains like smuggling etc. But I was very clear that I did not want to go on that path and stuck to my guts. I'm glad that it paid off and now the sector is one of the fastest growing with ample scope," he said.
Giving up is often easy, especially when facing financial losses. Sankeshwar recalls his beginning days when he would be struggling to get to a break even point. Many take to various means of inspiration, seeking motivational help in such times, but the business tycoon believes self-belief is the only thing that can drive you to success.
"I had really tough days but kept focus, had confidence and kept practicing what I believe in. I’ve tried meditation and all but doesn’t work for me. I prefer just continuing to deal with the problem than run away from it, " he said.
From a turnover of mere Rs 2 lakh in 1976, Sankeshwar has built a conglomerate that includes VRL Media Limited, a Rs 300 crore publishing house, and the big fish, VRL Logistics valued at close to Rs 2,000 crores and has a market cap of nearly Rs 3,100 crores.The humble man from Hubbali has come a long way, following simple but crucial principles.