We’ve all seen and heard of Godfather, Cocktail (the Tom Cruise one!) and The Social Network being classic inspirational movies for the budding entrepreneur. Whether it is Don Vito Corleone preaching confidence with his undeniable offer, or a bunch of nerdy Harvard students taking their idea from a dingy room to a multi-billion dollar property while tackling lawsuits, patent violations and teenage angst, Hollywood has led the way in business magazines with mantras for one and all. Bollywood, however, isn’t far behind. One only needs to look carefully, beyond the overwhelming background score, melodramatic romance and sometimes, even overlook some of the dialogues. For the aspiring businessmen, or those who need a socially relevant motivational push, here are 5 lessons to be learned about making money:
We’ve all seen and heard of Godfather, Cocktail (the Tom Cruise one!) and The Social Network being classic inspirational movies for the budding entrepreneur. Whether it is Don Vito Corleone preaching confidence with his undeniable offer, or a bunch of nerdy Harvard students taking their idea from a dingy room to a multi-billion dollar property while tackling lawsuits, patent violations and teenage angst, Hollywood has led the way in business magazines with mantras for one and all. Bollywood, however, isn’t far behind. One only needs to look carefully, beyond the overwhelming background score, melodramatic romance and sometimes, even overlook some of the dialogues. For the aspiring businessmen, or those who need a socially relevant motivational push, here are 5 lessons to be learnt about making money:
Never let go of your principles for materialistic gains
An iconic scene in the history of Indian Bollywood is when Amitabh Bachchan chides Shashi Kapoor in Deewar (1975) for being too idealistic and getting nowhere, while he rose from having nothing to owning buildings, property and bank balance. As the crescendo rises, Shashi Kapoor softly replies, “Mere paas maa hai.” An interesting interpretation of this line as a business sutra could be that of unshakeable faith in principles one carries with oneself, being grounded in the face of temptation and quick money, and the conviction of doing the right thing, the right way.
When Kishore Biyani, founder of Pantaloons, said in response to how he dealt with giants like Reliance entering his industry, “Mere paas Indian consumer ki understanding hai”, he was right – it is the intangible, instinctive urge to do good by yourself, your shareholders and your consumers, that leads to success.
Build real relationships with your suppliers
Band Baaja Baraat (2010) is a movie about two enthusiastic, inexperienced and academically not the brightest entrepreneurs with a blazing dream to be the best wedding planners in town. With not much going for them, except their passion for their dream, they made all the right choices when it came to finding and keeping their vendors. From choosing the right mix of experience to those waiting for a first break like them, to treating them like family by sharing profits and happiness, the duo, built foundations that supported them when they hit a low.
It is important as a businessman to create strong bonds with what can arguably be called the most crucial logistical link in any business – the suppliers, even if it requires you to work on the ground with them every now and then. The thing to remember and keep reminding oneself is, you need them as much as, if not more than, they need you.
The key to success is a motivated, loyal, self-sufficient team
The best lessons come from the unlikeliest places. Mr. India (1987) is one such movie, where the flamboyant and unrealistic villain Mogambo teaches not one but several key lessons on how to run a profitable empire. One of the many lessons however lies in the smooth functioning of his highly advanced empire by his loyal and well-trained minions, if one may use the word.
He rewarded them lavishly with money, promotions and compliments for their hard work: “Mogambo khush hua!” In addition, he trusts his employees with his out of control plans, enough to delegate completely while he sits back and waits for them to get back to him. He keeps them happy, gives them adequate power with responsibility and overall, makes for a great leader (ignoring the part where is wants to poison all of India’s rice and conquer it for all time to come.)
When you’re starting out, minimize expenses and maximize risks
Harpreet Singh Bedi in Rocket Singh (2009), with 39 percent in his graduation, is convinced he will do well in Sales. His world is shattered when he realises honesty has little place in this world. Unable to compromise on his ideals (read: point 1), he starts his own company with the main principle of 100% customer satisfaction. It functions out of his main office building, on the side, using their resources and even their people, and slowly people join him. This serves as an important lesson for start-ups: focus on setting up a loyal client base with high quality customer satisfaction while minimizing expenditure; split profits marginally while investing most of it in the company’s growth itself.
"Risk toh spiderman ko bhi lena padta hai, mein toh phir bhi salesman hun”. This one line pretty much sums up one of the biggest aspects of owning a start-up. Uncertainty will linger till your first breakeven, organisational structures will remain fluid for the first few quarters and projects will trickle in, but don’t stop taking risks, but remain impassioned. The greater the risk, the greater the reward; and the worst thing that can happen is failure, which really isn’t that bad after all.
Failures are inevitable; yet not unrecoverable fromam
Om Shanti Om (2007) gave us yet another iconic Bollywood dialogue; something that would fit straight into a self-help book for start-ups. “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost,” is Shahrukh’s emphatic speech when he finally wins that award he has dreamt of all his life. The line preceding this is equally relevant: if it’s not happy, it’s not the end.
Patience is a virtue and we’ve been told this till kingdom come. And, it seems that in the face of stiff competition cramped up markets, low investor interest and stagnation in innovation, failure is inevitable in the business world. Yet, be it one’s first project, or first start-up that fails, treat it like a mini-test, a beta test; for the best is yet to come, and if failure wasn’t a risk, would you do anything at all?
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