Indian vs western entrepreneurs: Why businesses should look at exponential growth rather than incremental growth

Entrepreneurship has a remarkable characteristic of absorbing the culture it flourishes in.

Dr Vivek Bindra

Entrepreneurship is the buzzword. Though funding has seen a downward trend in India, it is still in a better shape as compared to the global landscape. Entrepreneurship has a remarkable characteristic of absorbing the culture it flourishes in. An entrepreneur in India, China, Brazil, the US or Europe will mirror the culture in which they grew up. Their goals, ambitions, working ethics make a big difference in knowing how successful they would be. The biggest example of entrepreneurial success is Israel, which has over 30 programmes for start-ups and highest per capital VC across the globe. On the contrary, in India, Panchi ka petha (Agra), Nagpal ke chole bhature (Delhi), Ratna Cafe (Chennai), Thaggu ke laddu (Kanpur), Induben na Khakhra (Ahmedabad), to name a few, have been restricted to a certain geography. Though they have become transnational names within the Indian community, they haven’t been able to scale up like McDonald’s or KFC.

If driven by the same forces, how would these entrepreneurs actually differ from each other? In India, we have entrepreneurs across multiple domains; from a chaiwala to a tech-savvy individual, but we have not seen entrepreneurs creating big corporate(s) like in the western part of the globe. We don’t have chains like McDonald’s or KFC from India serving Indian delicacies like chai, samosa, kachori, idli, vada, etc, as their primary item with a global footprint. We do have Haldiram’s, Bikanervala, Saravana Bhavan but their presence is primarily restricted to the parts of country with relatively sporadic global presence.

The hitch lies within the mindset of these inconspicuous entrepreneurs; most Indian entrepreneurs tend to fall into short-term profitability trap, and instead of trying to scale up the business to reach out to a wider audience, they remain confined within certain pockets of the country instead. Indian entrepreneurs should look at exponential growth rather than incremental growth.

Corruption is another big deterrent for entrepreneurs across the globe; lot of start-ups die at an early stage of their lifecycle because of the practices that are deep-rooted and are not morally and socially right. Most entrepreneurs shelve their plans just because the cost of business escalates by X times when they account for bribes, which at times go higher than the capital invested. If a resilient individual manages to cross that hurdle, he tends to recover the costs by downgrading the quality of offerings or he starts practicing unscrupulous and unethical methods. Whereas western entrepreneurs don’t face fewer such challenges, relatively speaking of course, and the government also promotes entrepreneurship ventures.

Awareness and sensitisation are also major roadblocks for Indian entrepreneurs to scale up their business; there are cases when they are not aware about various aspects of business scalability like patenting, IPR, royalty, licensing fee, etc, due to which their businesses don’t climb the summit of their potential. Due to this, many businesses just end up being local players. Access to technology is yet another challenge for Indian start-ups, whereas in the West businesses have easily-available tools to scale up. Access to the technology tools help entrepreneurs in Western countries to think beyond their borders and set the bar higher for themselves, so when they aim for the ‘stars’ they at least land on the ‘moon’.

Engaging manpower to scale up a business is also a big challenge for the Indian entrepreneur. The ‘can do’ attitude is very much palpable, but is bound by topographical boundaries due to a confined cultural mindset that has been created over the generations.

In today’s scenario, where entrepreneurship is directly correlated to technological innovation, we are still far behind in implementing the right solutions at hand. Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, Amazon, Apple are the biggest examples of innovation in their respective fields.

The author is an international motivational speaker, leadership consultant and CEO coach.

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