Resolutions to Make Businesses Better in 2020
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When I was 10, I set up my very first entrepreneurial venture in my village in Wayanad, Kerala. The candy shop was a huge hit, enabling me to save up to buy a goat for my second business endeavour—selling milk.
Soon enough, I bought a cow…the business ideas never really ceased, even after plush jobs with MNCs offered financial security that I didn’t dare to aspire for. As the son of a daily wage labourer, I was more than grateful for all the career opportunities, yet the entrepreneurial bug refused to die. In 2005, I finally succumbed and started iD Fresh Food with four of my cousins. It was the best decision of my life and the lessons learnt over these years have shaped us as well as the business.
As we step into 2020, I would like to share some of my key insights and big dreams for the coming year. It’s my 2020 charter for better business. I hope it inspires you to make your own.
Get back to nature
My top New Year resolution is to get back to nature and reduce our carbon footprint. There are global studies that show the benefits of going green on customer appeal, brand positioning and ultimately, the company’s bottom line. The biggest reason for me though is the desire to leave a greener and healthier world for future generations. I am leaving no stones unturned in finding sustainable packaging solutions as an alternative to plastic. And yes, the big dream is to become a fully organic company that makes organic food affordable and accessible to all.
All our innovation has been powered by common sense; technology is just a tool. It’s important for businesses to constantly evolve, learn new things, and take the road less travelled. Moreover, at a time when the whole world is looking to increase the shelf-life of products, it is important that we work on developing fresh products that are preservative-free and chemical-free. At iD, we are constantly innovating.
Love your customer
By trying to conform to the popular notion ‘customer is king’, some tend to do things for them out of fear. I believe that treating them like people you care for is a better way to go. Would you like your children or parents to consume preservatives-laden foods? Once we start truly caring for our customers, it becomes easy to connect with them and forge trustworthy bonds that stand the test of time.
Care for your employees
Just like you invest in customer care, businesses need to think about employee care too. With ‘burnout’ now officially recognized as a medical condition by the World Health Organization, companies need to take proactive measures to provide a healthy and safe work environment. Because growing a company also entails making it a better place to work. In 2020, let’s aim to build rich, inclusive work cultures that support employee wellbeing as well as a sense of satisfaction and ownership at work.
Face your fears
Several years ago, while I was working in Saudi Arabia, I started an online used-car business with a friend. It started off really well, but then the dotcom bust happened. The failure of that business cost dearly not only financially, but also in terms of self-confidence. I started fearing failure. It took me a while to realize that failures are good, as long as we learn something from them. Would you believe me if I told you that I’m petrified of public speaking? Yet, I was thrilled to speak at Harvard about our patented vada batter packaging design.
Pay it forward
The reason I wanted to become an entrepreneur was to give better career opportunities—in whatever small way—to the talented youth from remote villages and small towns in India. I have been amazed by the results that these young professionals have achieved, with some hands-on training, mostly in manufacturing and sales. It has been a truly gratifying experience. As entrepreneurs, we have a responsibility to give back to society.
I strongly believe that when you truly want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. I have survived ill-timed business decisions, walking away from industry opportunities that didn’t align with our ethics, lucrative buyout offers, market upheavals, and a million challenges, only because I never ceased to believe in merits of our business. I have made it my daily resolution. What’s yours?