8 Maxims of Fortune 500 Entrepreneur Harsh Mariwala

Indian Entrepreneur, Fortune 500 company Founder and Chairman, Mr. Harsh Mariwala of Marico Ltd share his top maxims for the budding entrepreneurs of today!

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Starting a new business can not only be extremely challenging but quite daunting too. As a new business owner, you are likely to work longer hours. While entrepreneurship is certainly not without its hurdles, the journey itself can be exceptionally exciting and fulfilling – so long as you have the passion. Many business gurus started from scratch and built their companies from the ground up which often involves taking advice from the people one trusts.

Marico

#1 Leveraging strengths

Normally, in a country like India, there is immense pressure on all of us in terms of choosing a subject in school or a career path. While pursuing all these we are often unable to recognize our strengths. I believe that brainstorming with family & friends helps in identifying and leveraging your natural strengths. Shaping your future based on these learnings and core strengths, your chances of success would be higher and goals more attainable. All of us have shortcomings and weaknesses and hence we pour in massive effort and time rectifying and improving the same rather than concentrating on our key strengths. But it is the strengths that evolves into passion and determination. Hence, by focussing on our strengths, we choose the right business option- one that we will enjoy working for.

#2 Be focused and Do a few things.

My motto is that being a ‘Jack of all trades' does not bring success in every field you pursue. One should aspire to be a “Master of a trade” and have a focused approach - personally and professionally. Therefore, first identify what is critical, whether it is (in terms of) the kind of business you are running or expanding to newer geography. In businesses, focused businesses do far better than conglomerates, which also reflects in capital market valuations. For individuals, the courage to say ‘No’ also helps them become focused. In my book “Harsh Realities”, I spoke about how not many people say ‘no’ whereas by doing so, you clear up time and headspace to do more. The more focussed you are, the lesser number of tasks/activities you undertake - resulting in-depth leading to higher efficiency and quality in your work. Hence, a focussed approach brings excellence!

#3 Take risks

To quote the famous Scottish playwright and creator of “Peter Pan”, J.M. Barrie, “We are all failures- at least the best of us are.” But that doesn’t mean that you should stop taking risks or trying new things in fear of failure. In my book, I highlight the ‘harshness’ of what an entrepreneur’s reality is - the struggles and most importantly, failures. I believe, out of failure comes learning. I have undergone many failures in my journey—and each one of them has taught me something. Many times,it’s the learnings from non-successes that leads to thumping successes, in time. Every failure I experienced has resulted in a detailed analysis of what went wrong and my learnings from it. While building up Marico, my decision of initially not hiring people in legal function led to setbacks and that led to establishing a legal function..

The Indian society, which is very hierarchical, does not take kindly to failures. This attitude serves as a deterrent to risk-taking. It is important to take risks and not be driven by the fear of failure. Every experiment, every risk may not succeed. There’s a common saying ‘Win some, lose some’ but for me, it is all about believing that ‘Sometimes you win. But you never lose. You always learn.’

#4 Evolve your vision

There is a belief in management circles that every entrepreneur should have a clear vision. I beg to differ. I believe that businesses/startup ideas are often made through chance& serendipity.  Today when various new opportunities are emerging, with mass digital adoption during the covid pandemic or the digital revolution years ago - one should remain open to new opportunities and adapt their vision accordingly for sustainable growth. A good businessman will aim to capitalize on the opportunity or environmental change that is happening. Often success can happen by chance if we remain open to new thoughts. EstablishingKaya came to us through such an opportunity. . Hence, it is vital to understand that one’s vision should not be set in stone but let it evolve and be revisited every few years.

#5 Aim for win-win negotiations

In the early stages of my journey, I always aimed to win. Especially where negotiations were key. I recollect holding out against a labour union for nine months of a strike. I emerged victorious and felt elated. However, a year later, the workers who experienced a sense of let-down and felt victimized hit back with another strike. It was then that the realization hit home that a win-lose outcome does not pay in the long run. but it is the win-win result, where both parties win without compromise makes for a sound way forward. The moral here is to be fair. When you are in a commanding position, it is important to ensure all parties involved feel valuable and benefit from the situation.

#6 Reinvent yourself

An entrepreneur’s role changes as they grow and expand. The role shifts from doing it yourself to managing the team. As you continue to rise, influencing others gets importance. The role as an entrepreneur sees further complexities and dynamics being changed. Focusing, expanding, and growing your business is fulfilling and aspirational. However, there might be a time, when you’ll need to ask yourself if you wish to continue what you are doing perpetually or take a new challenge and reinvent yourself.  When I stepped down as managing director of Marico, it was a huge shift for me. I had to reimagine myself, exploring newer horizons and taking up newer challenges. All of which led to opening up a new chapter in my life: a part of which includes writing a book titled “Harsh Realities”! The key take away from this is to not resist change when certain developments are happening but to take them as they come.

#7 Purpose

Purpose has taken a higher degree of importance post covid. Once a certain level of achievement has been attained, it is important to delve into pegging your purpose in life. Your purpose can be being the best father, a caring husband or a good friend, but it is important to identify what your purpose is in life. Once identified, this purpose then becomes a major fulcrum of your journey. Nothing remains the same once you discover your true calling. My purpose in life is to ‘Make A Difference’ to others. How can you make a difference in other’s lives be it through helping other entrepreneurs set up their business, guide them through their journey as a professional, or support those in need? My purpose is not financial, but guiding, mentoring or by“active giving” where I spend my time for them. I find that with a purpose in life, your journey becomes truly an enriching and rewarding experience!

#8 Grit

There is a misconception that “passion” is important for success. But I believe, passion combined with perseverance and determination is a more resilient combination. I have had the pleasure of meeting many passionate and successful entrepreneurs, but sometimes when setbacks happen, some of them are unable to move forward. While “passion” brings in energy, drives behaviour, it must be combined with perseverance and determination. I always say Passion + Perseverance + Determination = Grit is an imperative mix in a recipe for SUCCESS!

(Harsh Mariwala is the founder and chairman of Marico. Ltd and author of the book Harsh Realities, story of making of Marico which was launched earlier this month. He is also awarded the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2020.)

Harsh Mariwala

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Harsh Mariwala is the Founder of ASCENT and also the Chairman of Marico Limited.