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Last Updated : Nov 03, 2017 01:12 PM IST | Source:

Marico founder Harsh Mariwala to entrepreneurs: Learn to let go as you grow

Having stepped down as the Managing Director of Marico, a company that he founded, Harsh Mariwala is now focusing on nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Nachiket Deuskar @PartTimeBowler

Having stepped down as the Managing Director of Marico, a company that he founded, Harsh Mariwala is now focusing on nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Towards this goal, Mariwala had founded the Ascent Foundation in 2012, which aims to mentor budding entrepreneurs and help them alleviate problems that small businesses face.

The project, which started with around 100 entrepreneurs now has more than 320 of them. They are divided into groups of 12, which meet three to four times a year, to consult, advice and help each another.

Mariwala said that his and his team's role was to facilitate the meetings. However, they realised that the entrepreneurs needed a lot more hand-holding. They have since improved upon those deliverables in terms of better execution, he added.

Mentor entrepreneurs

Mariwala said that he decided to start the Ascent project based on his experiences of transforming Marico from a small business into a consumer goods giant.

The 66-year-old said what entrepreneurs do as a small business, does not transform them into a larger business, unless they reinvent themselves. That's why, he says, he decided to help them transform.

Mariwala said that he decided to create a mechanism where entrepreneurs can learn from each other through a ‘peer-to-peer learning platform’.

“I thought I will combine my belief and personal experiences in doing something for entrepreneurs. Through that route, we are creating wealth for all stakeholders or adding value for all stakeholders,” Mariwala told Moneycontrol.

"I believe that whatever I do, I need to have a bigger impact,” he affirms.

Sharing his experience

Mariwala believes that when a business is small, entrepreneurs do everything on their own. However, as the business grows, it becomes physically impossible to handle everything, something that he says, he realised during his own journey.

The consumer goods tycoon believes entrepreneurs need to have a good team to whom they can delegate responsibility.

When your role changes, he said, “you have to reinvent yourself. That’s the most important part in the journey”.

Managing all the stakeholders is an important aspect of entrepreneurship, according to Mariwala.

Talking from his own experiences of managing business and the family, Mariwala warned, "Many times you have seen that businesses have been destroyed because of family squabbles."

While he believes that today’s entrepreneurs are in a better position when it comes to tackling problems, their chances of succeeding have reduced.

“I think the ecosystem has evolved far more over a period of time and there are options for entrepreneurs whether it is funding or getting advice, which was not there earlier,” he said.

However he added that “the business has become far more competitive” and “the chances of success today are far more difficult compared to 30 or 40 years back”.

Impact of GST on entrepreneurs

Mariwala told Moneycontrol that the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been negative on small businesses and entrepreneurs so far.

However, he feels India’s jump in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rankings is a good sign.

He also said that big bang reforms such as the GST were needed and that the number of rates need to be simplified and reduced over a period of time.

“I think there have been some errors in execution,” he said, adding that the government would want to address them.

Challenges faced by entrepreneurs

The Marico supremo recognises that there is a “want for talent” and that people with good talent are scarce and said that “it is difficult for smaller businesses to hold on to talent”. According to him, small businesses have to create the right ‘employee value preposition’ to attract good talent.

Talking about identifying the right talent, Mariwala said "So many times, I have gone wrong", adding that "sometimes your judgement through a limited interaction, may not give you the right result."

Mariwala said that 'talent interaction' is an important part of an entrepreneur's journey.

"Making the right choices is very critical and I have made mistakes (there)," he said.

According to Mariwala, startups and entrepreneurs are dealing with a few common challenges such as their options for raising funds, question of how to attract and retain the right talent and what responsibility should be delegated.

Mariwala said that entrepreneurs need to create a strong ‘right to win’ and only then does the business model come in.

Saying that “the business model is part and parcel of the right to win”, entrepreneurs must ask themselves, “What is the one unique thing I am doing, which will make me succeed?”
First Published on Nov 3, 2017 01:12 pm
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