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Unicorn Founders Share Secret Hacks On How Entrepreneurs Can Become More Resilient The founders tell us how resilience is super essential for any organization's success and share some things that they learned to build it

By S Shanthi

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An entrepreneur's journey is full of ups and downs. It's also 'make or break' in many cases. And, if there is one thing that the pandemic has taught entrepreneurs, it is the importance of resilience. That's why we asked some founders of Indian unicorn companies about why resilience is super essential and some tips that helped them build the same.

Varun Alagh, co-founder and CEO, Honasa consumer (Mamaearth parent company)

The true character of anybody is how they deal with themselves and the people around them during tough times. A couple of things that I can share from my entrepreneurial journey are:

  • Believe in yourself: One of the most critical aspects is believing in yourself, as there will be too many people around you who will be fearmongers or will question your path. It is critical to stay focused on your purpose and know why you are doing what you are doing, else it is easy to fall prey to all the doubts and deter from your path
  • Stay flexible: One has to be open to ideas and know the ground reality because you never know when the business dynamics change or the socioeconomic circumstances push you to pivot. For instance, we started as a toxin-free baby care brand but with rising consumer demands, we decided to diversify into personal care for adults which is a far bigger category size in India and I feel that has been a pivot in our growth journey. Had we stayed confined to just baby care, we would have missed out on a big opportunity.
  • Always keep consumer central: A lot of times, founders/entrepreneurs tend to start a business with a white space in the market but a lot of time, what we need to keep in mind is that the consumer is constantly evolving and their needs are changing with the time. Hence it is critical to follow the consumer trend to stay relevant to them.
  • Take your team along: You know a lot of times, people give the leader the credit for any business or a successful idea, but we tend to forget that it takes a team to execute and deliver results. Hence, it is always important to bring in people who are domain experts and are complimentary to ones skill set. Onboard then, nurture them and you'll see tangible results in your business growth
  • Focus on the long term: You know when we start building a business the smallest win becomes the milestone in the longer journey but the more important thing is to keep an eye on the long-term benefits of every action. Some actions might give results in the short term but a lot of what we invest in today will yield benefits in the long term as brands are built in the minds of the consumers and that's where we need to connect with the consumer, stay relevant and evolve with them through the journey.

Soumyadeep Barman, co-founder, Rebel Foods:

I strongly believe that resilience is super essential for any organization's success. Resilience is not just about surviving challenges, but it's about emerging stronger every time. Turning every crisis into an opportunity is what the pandemic has taught us.

  • Embrace a pro-active approach: We often design solutions based on present factors like market demand, resources, customer research etc. This approach is great for moving fast as the happy path is simpler and faster. However, it sometimes undermines long-term viability since today is not tomorrow. We need to consider the unhappy paths, along with the happy paths to be completely ready to react and emerge from them. Entrepreneurs need to embrace a more proactive approach in their decision-making frameworks that considers future changes and uncertainties, instead of only working for the best-case scenarios. We must adopt long-term design thinking.
  • Build a strong and resilient team: This is super important in building a resilient organization. Building our teams with the right culture and empowering them with the right tools to make decisions is critical. By fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, our teams can handle the unexpected, adapt to change, and bounce back with flying colors.

Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder, EaseMyTrip:

As an entrepreneur and a part of a unicorn company, I absolutely believe that fostering resilience is imperative for businesses to not only withstand but also flourish during difficult times. In times of economic downturn, pandemics, or any other unforeseeable circumstances, resolute businesses are better positioned to endure the challenges and emerge even stronger.

  • Cultivate an adaptable mindset: A vital component of stimulating resilience is the cultivation of a proactive and adaptable mindset. To be recognized as an industrious and assertive company, it is imperative to have the aptitude to detect potential risks and foresee challenges. This will enable teams and leaders to respond swiftly and efficiently in the face of the unexpected. This requires a willingness to embrace change and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement.
  • Establish connections: The establishment of good connections with stakeholders, employees, and consumers is a crucial component of resilience development. By cultivating trust and effective communication, organizations can establish a devoted clientele and a robust community of advocates who are deeply committed to the corporate cause. During times of crisis, interpersonal connections prove to be invaluable assets that aid businesses in navigating uncertainty and surmounting obstacles.
  • Emphasize financial stability: In addition, it is critical for enterprises that they emphasize financial stability and sustainability. They must remain vigilant about the availability of funds, effectively manage the debt, and adhere to an accurate balance sheet. By strategically allocating resources towards reserves and crucial areas like technology and infrastructure, businesses can establish a strong foundation for sustained success and navigate the inevitable fluctuations of the business landscape.
  • Foster culture: In order to promote durability, it is fundamental that one emphasize both personnel and organizational culture. Fostering employee well-being, promoting diversity and inclusion, and upholding ethical standards are crucial for attracting and retaining top talent and establishing an authoritative brand reputation. In times of crisis, it is crucial for businesses to unite their teams and convey a succinct and unwavering message to stakeholders.

Yashish Dahiya, chairman and CEO, PB Fintech:

Running a business is a series of peaks and troughs but one entrepreneurial value that every startup founder needs to have is 'Resilience'.

  • Follow smart risk-taking: My advice to the next generation of entrepreneurs is to consider including smart risk-taking as a pillar of their culture. They should go all in and not be afraid of taking risks. India has always had rich entrepreneurial talent but now is the best time for budding entrepreneurs as a massive growth opportunity is brewing in India right now.
  • Focus on building trust and loyalty: Always stay true to your customer. Companies that are valued most in the long term are the ones that can be trusted. So, building consumer trust is of paramount importance.
  • Build a strong core team: The team should help you set the right foundation and align the company's long-term growth with your vision.
  • Block out distractions: Last but not least, as an entrepreneur, you need to block out distractions and establish strategic priorities. They should remember that it is imperative to understand the core of the business and not get digressed. Whether it's the company's valuation or profitability or going public - entrepreneurs who can effectively separate noise from the substance are actually the ones that can sustain long-term growth.

Sourjyendu Medda, founder and co-CEO, DealShare

No corporation is impervious to challenging times. The ebbs and flows of global situations, whether they be pandemics, funding winters or supply chain inefficiencies affect all businesses, and startups by their nature of being new, disruptive and innovative, are as vulnerable to them, if not more.

  • Remain fluid: It is important to cultivate the ability to remain fluidic and dynamic, especially in realizing that any adopted strategy constantly requires upgradation and tweaking, and in some cases, based on the global situation, a complete overhaul. From what we have learned over the years, building resilience requires one simple realization. No one strategy fits all and the need to remain dynamic by being able to shift gears in the middle of the ride to a new frontier based on prevailing global or local situations is key to longevity and success.
  • Focus on building a solid business model: Resilience is best showcased by longevity and longevity is only assured if the model is successful. Unabated expansion does not necessarily signal success. There have been numerous examples of expanding startups falling to harder and more challenging times. Thus the key to success is ensuring that existing operations are yielding the results that one set out to achieve.
  • Inculcate confidence: Whether this requires a significant shift in strategy or doubling down on existing methods of operations, either of which depends entirely on the situation of each start-up, the general principle that of an ability to provide tangible returns on investment, thereby inculcating a sense of confidence in existing operations and outlook, is integral to building resilience.

S Shanthi

Former Senior Assistant Editor

Shanthi specializes in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. 


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