#1 The biggest learnings during the journey of an entrepreneur and how it helped carry out planned objectives
While entrepreneurship is certainly challenging, there is also a constant drive to build something bigger and better. The objectives involve building a team and a work culture that focuses on seamless customer experience and that can be a hard and yet fulfilling journey. In my experience, some of the most important learnings for an entrepreneur.
Never compromise on ethics. If an action feels wrong, then it is wrong
One of the reasons that strong ethics are going to be critical for an entrepreneur is that leadership positions come with a great deal of responsibility – and one of these responsibilities include that of setting an example for everyone else. How you work sets the tone for how the rest of the employees carry out their responsibilities and that in turn impacts how the company runs. The various dimensions of strong ethics include meeting your obligations and honouring your word, being honest and transparent, leading with the values of fairness and justice, etc.
Hire better than you, folks you can rely on
This is tricky, but hiring practices can prove to be crucial to how your organization turns out. While time and money are spent on hiring the right candidate, the same can be thought of as an investment. Such candidates would eventually help you bring about better turnovers for your company by being more productive workers you can rely on.
Attrition is normal
Attrition is something that every entrepreneur tries to minimize because of what it costs the company. However, some degree of attrition is actually normal, particularly during difficult times such as the ongoing global pandemic. In a situation where many employees are working from home, attrition can even be more likely. However, adopting measures like communicating with care, adequate work-life balance, understanding employees’ needs, etc. can help minimize this attrition.
With growth comes more challenges
The journey of an entrepreneur is not one where you need only meet initial difficulties and then expect everything to fall into place. Rather, it is a dynamic journey that is full of challenges that will continue to come even as your business grows. With growth, not only will you be met with more challenges, but the nature of these challenges too will continue to evolve. This requires entrepreneurs to be innovative and adaptive.
#2 How has Covid impacted the Indian startups and what are the challenges that entrepreneurs need to overcome?
Startups and large industries alike have taken a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with revenue generation taking a dip while expenses remained fixed. According to a survey by Ficci and the Indian Angel Network in July 2020, about 70% of startups were impacted by COVID-19 and only 22% of startups had the cash reserves to meet the fixed cost expenses of their companies for 3-6 months. Moreover, 12% of the startups had already shut operations at the time while 60% of them were operating with disruptions.
One of the reasons that the situation was so much more difficult for startups was that they take two or three years to become profitable but the pandemic has lengthened this period, adversely affected venture capital and angel funding, and has even forced some startups to discontinue. In such a scenario, the immediate need for startups would be to chart out a path to profitability during these difficult times.
Employee retention and motivation are other challenges that businesses need to tackle as salary cuts and furloughs have become prevalent across the board and thus, further decreasing the interest in joining a new company. The leadership challenges in maintaining staff engagement and motivation also extend to the protection and well-being of employees, their education and training, communication, guidance and personal encouragement.
Due to the evolving work from home scenarios, people have realized that work is just not about the place, all you need is will and dedication. Thus, during this pandemic,
Work from home opens up another scope of opportunities for the manner in which organizations can work and structure themselves. Employees have started to adapt their business tasks while organizing staff and client wellbeing and prosperity.
Therefore, it appears that despite the challenges, businesses are learning, innovating, and adapting to respond to the situation and overcome these complex challenges. Nevertheless, a long road still remains ahead for businesses and startups to make a complete recovery.
#3 Building employees’ capabilities to readjust and reorient to a new normal
Returning to a new normal has certainly been a challenging task. At StashFin, all employees were offered the flexibility to either work from home. For those who found it infeasible to work from home, all safety and hygiene measures have also been implemented at the workplace. Embracing the new normal also meant moving to laptops, cloud computing, and leveraging other tools and technologies to make the transition easier. During a poll conducted in the office to ensure the employees’ comfort, 70% of the team members felt little to no impact of covid on their lifestyle.
However, this readjustment and reorientation to the new normal aren’t simply about the technical aspects but also emotional and psychological aspects that play an important role. This involves being polite, compassionate and understanding. An approach that is centred around the safety and well-being of employees will always be an ethical one and that involves understanding their various needs and their emotional well-being in the midst of a raging pandemic.
#4 The skillsets of the future How are you prioritizing upskilling for employees to help them keep up in a rapidly changing environment?
Upgrading your skills always remains essential to any field of work. And this means that entrepreneurs not only upgrade their own skills but also help and encourage employees to learn new skill sets.
For entrepreneurs, it is imperative that they have great leadership skills, clarity of thought, and also a mission-driven approach in order to succeed. It is important to be able to make tough decisions and still have empathy. In an ever-changing business landscape, this has become more important than ever.
For employees, entrepreneurs need to offer the right kind of environment and take appropriate measures to encourage employees to always keep learning. For example, at StashFin, reimbursement for various courses is offered to all the employees who are looking to enhance and upgrade their skills.
When one does not focus on upgrading their skills, they are likely to get left behind in such a fast-paced world where new technologies and tools emerge ever so often and knowledge is being generated at a great pace.
#5 Diversity, Inclusion and Performance Management
We know that businesses and workplace models continuously evolve. And with this, our understanding of employee performance has also evolved. As many organizations have moved on from traditional practices to more holistic models of appraising employee performance, equal consideration for factors such as accomplishments and competencies has come out as an emerging model.
Focusing on an employee’s engagement at work and personal growth has also come to be accepted as part of the appraisal process.
What have we learnt?
If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain and that our systems are flawed. Anyone who wishes to be a future leader needs to be an innovator, strategist and a quick-thinker. A new-age entrepreneur’s job does not come with an instruction manual dictating how to go about everyday decisions and leading your business. All that you have is your experience, vision, and a knack for steering the ship in situations where others may look towards a leader.
Written by Shruti Aggarwal Co-Founder, Stashfin (Views Are Personal)