Embarking on the journey of a lifetime: Shailesh Dash
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Embarking on the journey of a lifetime: Shailesh Dash

Embarking on the journey of a lifetime: Shailesh Dash

Any successful business needs a vision and goal which could add value to their customers and help the economy

Entrepreneur and investor Shailesh Dash has launched many businesses in the last 15 years, seeing strong success along the way. In his book, Entrepreneur – The Journey of a Lifetime, he outlines his key learnings while sharing advice for handling the rollercoaster ride of an entrepreneurial adventure

Book excerpt

Today, while it seems that almost everybody is an entrepreneur and would like to own their own business, it was a very difficult decision for me to make that decision at the age of 40, even though I was probably ready for it around five years earlier; but my thought-process and the fact that almost everybody at home used to work for the government meant that my risk-taking ability had become quite subdued.

Having finally realized that it was something that I must do, I was prepared to give it everything. To take this decision, you must be ready to bear the consequences. Even though starting a business might seem easy, turning it into a successful organization and taking care of thousands of people takes everything. The success of any business depends on providing a return for all stakeholders and this means you must add value to your consumers without which it would be impossible for any business to survive. Maintaining the edge in consumer service is always easier said than done and that is mostly because of the ever-changing needs and demands of consumers and customers.

Any successful business needs a vision and goal which could add value to their customers and help the economy; it also requires a good team who can implement all necessary factors to achieve the entrepreneur’s vision. In the end, the one thing which truly makes the difference in terms of a successful and not-so-successful business is the hunger of the leadership team to achieve their goals. In the race to achieve those goals, everyone must keep in mind the needs of customers, otherwise the enterprise will result in failure.

Entrepreneurship is not always easy. It is full of bumps at every step of the way and unless you are able to raise enough capital and your business plan is strong enough to weather the storm, it may not  work.

Everything has to be right for creating a successful business – a right product that consumers want, a hardworking and ethical team, the right networking sources, support of your shareholders, the correct sales strategy, support of legislation, and above all, proper implementation.

Growth will only come to you if you are seeking it, and nothing will happen automatically.

The book is now available on Amazon 

Q&A with the author

Tell us more about your book. What inspired you to write it at this stage?

It has been a while that I have been trying to share my experiences with the younger generation on developing businesses and maintaining a professional work-life balance, but my hectic schedule never permitted me to put my thoughts into writing. But being stuck at home for six weeks [due to the Covid-19 pandemic] actually helped me spend time to put my plan finally into action, which you see in the form of the book today.

With the job market hit hard by the Covid crisis, many people are seeking to become entrepreneurs. Is now a good time to become one?

I am not sure the above assumption is accurate because while millions of people have lost jobs worldwide because of the Covid crisis, I am sure they are innovating to earn a living – more via freelance work and ‘side hustles’. I am not sure you can say that they are necessarily turning to entrepreneurship.

But yes, surely this is a time when we will see a lot of innovation as the pandemic has clearly changed our life, social habits and how we do business. That would mean we will see lots of new products and services in the market. When it comes to entrepreneurship, I think it’s always a good time to start as long as you have a product/service that people need and you are ready to give up everything for making your dream come true.

In your journey as an entrepreneur, what are the biggest challenges that you faced?

Challenges for an entrepreneur are many and they were not any different for me. Only a good idea is not enough for a successful entrepreneur; the successful implementation of that idea includes a whole host of activities such as having proper planning, right partners, funding, right team, innovative and quality service, customers/clients, dealing with the changing economic landscape and a greater digital adoptation of business practices, among other things. For a business to be successful, each of these have to work well at the same time. Each of them are a challenge to solve but I think the most important has always been to find the right-skilled talent with the right attitude.

Also, which are the moments you treasure the most?

In an entrepreneur’s life there are many important points, but the two most important are when he sets up a business (when his idea is successfully launched) and the second is when it is validated by his customers and investors. Having successfully launched many businesses in the last 15 years – which have been validated by customers and investors alike – and the fact that many of those businesses are successful and running after 14-15 years, that is what makes me have a real sense of satisfaction.

In your book, you talk about the need for taking risks to grow. Can you elaborate on that?

Every business and every initiative an entrepreneur takes has risk and rewards. For example, when I left India to start a new career in Kuwait 21 years ago, I knew I was taking a risk to change countries in the hope of a better future. It happens the same with businesses and especially new enterprises. Despite all the meticulous business planning one does, there is always the risk of the business environment changing, altering government regulations, finding skilled human resources and funding at the right time. But an entrepreneur always needs to find a solution to all these challenges that come along the way and plan for their growth.

Financing has traditionally been a major obstacle for many entrepreneurs. Has that changed now?  

Financing always has been easy and difficult for entrepreneurs. It is difficult when the entrepreneurs think they have a good product/service with which they can make some money, but there is no incremental benefit for the clients/customers. Then the fundraising becomes challenging. But when you have a product/service which adds incremental value to a large population and is appreciated by them, then fundraising is not difficult with the right advisors in place.

During a crisis, many startups are forced to close for a variety of reasons. How can they survive during the tough periods?  

To be successful, an entrepreneur has to have two very inherent traits – find solutions to problems and adapt to an ever-changing world. It is true that we have seen sudden and significant change in the world due to the pandemic, but it only reminds entrepreneurs to operate a lean model for startups in general and be ready to be flexible and adopt. 

Lastly, what are your three main words of advice to entrepreneurs in the region?

Plan (take help),  start and adopt.

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