15 Business lessons from auto rickshaw drivers

Originally published by Vignesh Subramani on Durofy.

Starting a business from an idea and running it efficiently, often does not depend on lessons learned from books or other pedagogies. It is more about real-life challenges and how well you tackle them.

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, or even our home-grown example of the Bansals, did not rise to fame with their business ventures overnight. It took a lot of grit and careful planning and strategizing and re-strategizing with every failure, to reach the stage where they have reached now.

In the current fast-paced world with its depleting natural resources and green cover, what exists in abundance is — knowledge. It is free, it is simple and it is universal. It needs no mighty degree from premier educational institutions or hours of slogging over voluminous journals! If only we would keep the eyes of our mind open, we would be thrilled to see the forms in which complex lessons manifest themselves in the simple everyday objects around us.

I had a similar moment of epiphany just the other day while traveling to work when I found business lessons effortlessly concealed in the mode of transport which is used by 30% of daily commuters in Bengaluru — the ubiquitous, autorickshaws! Although most of our encounters with them tend to leave us red-faced, yet it amazing to note the business strategies that they apply every day being completely oblivious to it!

1) The power of the first impression:

Business — The age-old adage of ‘The first impression is the last impression’ holds good even for businesses. To keep up with the competition in the current market scenario where consumers are spoilt for choice, appearance does matter.

A survey has it that if a website can hold a reader for about half a minute, chances are that they will stay longer.

With 8 seconds being the average attention span of human beings, an attractive website is sure to reap more benefits than a highly informative and cluttered one! Build a visually attractive website with a comprehensive yet simple showcase of your portfolio and case studies to lure the audience. Take advantage of the social media frenzy and stay active on social media — it shows that you keep yourself in line with the current societal trends. And yes, clean your website junk frequently!

2) Marking your territory:

Business — Similarly, in business, it is essential that you create your impression in a particular territory. Dominate one specific source of leads/income. It could be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, etc. In a nutshell, it is essential that you carve your niche.

3) Have a multi-directional approach:

Business — Don’t restrict yourself to a single source of leads/income. Always keep your mind and approach open for multiple channels, and tie-up with freelancers and affiliate marketers. In order to thrive in this dynamic and competitive market, it doesn’t hurt to keep hustling!

4) Make your foes your allies:

Business — Stay close to your competitors! Understand how they are acquiring and generating leads, their choice of keywords for ranking in Google, and their strategy for campaigning for their products. Understanding your competitor’s strategy rather than stomping the competition will enable you to poach your competitor’s source of leads in a healthy way. Whereas, an antagonistic relationship with your competitors will only sap your energy for nothing and limit your chances of an effective consumer outreach. Marketing can never survive on the concept of “to kill or to be killed”!

5) Target the specific requirement of your clients:

Business — In business also, it is essential that you understand the specific requirement of your clients so that you are able to do justice to their vision! Have multiple meetings before taking up a project and document it well. Do not be in a hurry to start your project — start only when you have perceived the complete requirement.

6) The art of negotiation:

Business — Acquire leads by highlighting the areas where you can add value to your customer’s vision. Lure clients by providing them with various case studies and other success stories, and emphasize your Unique Selling Point (USP) to quote your best price. Make sure that you finalize the price before starting a project.

7) Have the right attitude:

Business — Learn the art of saying NO. It is difficult but it is OKAY. Emotions cannot run a successful business. Understand your client’s requirement and negotiate for the best price. Do not hesitate to say no if they are not willing to shell out what you are expecting. There are millions of opportunities available in the market if you have the right strategy.

8) Fix your base price:

Business — It is imperative that you have an idea about the minimum worth (base price) of your business. Calculate the cost involved in various steps of your business such as manpower wages, internet consumption, electricity consumption, office rent, and other such expenses and fix a base price, after of course adding your own markup to it. Acquiring clients is a necessity. Sure. But make sure that you do not stoop below your minimum worth!

9) Keep your clients updated:

Business — Maintaining regular communication with one’s clients is crucial for a business. It enables transparency and strengthens customer faith in the business. Make sure that you give a regular update to your clients at each and every stage of the project to give them clarity about the cost and other such factors. It positively rewards a business in the long run if clients feel that they have been treated in a fair and just manner.

10) Be wise in choosing the route:

Business — However enticing a short-term business prospect may look, try to find a long-term retainer business rather than one-time work. Don’t get stuck with low margin deals by spending too much of your time and effort. If you feel that the returns are low, move on. There is no dearth of opportunities.

11) Build a strong relationship:

Business — Likewise, dedicating time and effort to build good, strong and long-term business relationships with suppliers, employees, associates, customers, and everyone else directly or indirectly involved in it is vital for its success in the long run. A good relationship with existing clients boosts retention and also helps in acquiring new clients through reference, testimonials, and word of mouth. A good relationship with employee motivates them to work harder and strive towards the growth of the organization. In a nutshell, good business relationships help in branding, customer satisfaction, promotion, and most importantly gives a sense of personal fulfillment.

12) All work and no play can make work a DULL job:

Business — Amidst the rising competition in the workplace and among businesses, STRESS had become a predominant problem that curbs productivity and overall work satisfaction. Thus, it is essential to frequently de-stress during work. Don’t fill your 9 hours of work with just work, work, and more work. Take your mind off work whenever you can and be at your creative best throughout the day!

13) Adhere to meticulous terms of payment:

Business — Ensure that you don’t land yourself in an unpleasant scenario with respect to the monetary aspects of the business. Get the full and final settlement sorted before handing over the completed project to your client in order to maintain a smooth transaction. Be transparent about the charges for any out of the scope of work, if applicable, and address it before the commencement of the project.

14) Build comrades:

Business — Keep your comrades close. Visit webinars and seminars conducted by those akin to your business to stay updated and know the latest in your game. Understand the trends and upgrade your business to the latest trend.

15) Stick to minimalism:

Business — Minimalism comes in handy when building a business from scratch. Use the right tactics and strategy to build your business with minimal expenses, so that you can watch it reap higher ROI. Avoid spending too much on anything which you are unsure of delivering expected returns.

Therefore, the success of a business venture is largely dependent on adopting the right strategies. A big and well thought out idea can fail miserably if it is not promoted well, and even a small idea can make it big if it has the right strategy in place. Starting a business, running it efficiently and making it big is all about having the right approach in place. So hope you were able to get some tips and tricks for your business venture or at least have been motivated enough to start building one! Wish you all the best!

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