Many know bits of my Story, My entrepreneurial journey. I run a bootstrapped IT venture from my village Tangra in Punjab. Even to my employees I always say, Ours is not a company its a community. Vision to start an entrepreneurial venture was never personal possessions for me. In today's tough times of Corona Virus, here is how I am responding to the situation:
My emotional reaction: As the Lockdown in India has been announced at 8 pm in the night, my work immediately observed a pause. It happened with most of us in India. I have almost 50 employees and because I stay in a village, most of my employees travel by company bus and cars from the city side. My emotional reaction to my employees was neutral immediate after lockdown, however, I assured them Your Job is Safe. I panicked for 24-48 hours and then thought of so many families depending on me. I decided to be firm and start from a blank page again to immediately start with developing a changed business model.
Employees are real assets: When we hire people in SimbaQuartz, we strictly hire Very Good and Excellent candidate only. This is for sure, we keep a very strict interview. We spend a lot of time while hiring even for one vacancy, we interview more and more people before finalising one. My team is a Gem. I believe in their capabilities and I understand tough time on all. There was a time when I started with nothing 7 years back, today I am followed by over 1 million people altogether on various social media channels. I may not have enough cash or assets but just like for average parents their educated kids are their assets, I feel my employees and me, are assets of the company and We will Sail Through, changed business model, new business model, new working style.
Taking all my employees into confidence: My first action to survive, which may seem like an experiment is, taking all my employees into confidence. By employees, I mean each staff, helping staff, drivers and Top engineers and Managers from India's prestigious institutes such as IIMs, NITs. Reducing their mental and financial pressure and take it all on me. This is the time to liquidate personal and company's assets to keep the team into confidence as well as not letting them breakdown. I advise to Stand with your team, humanity, not with materialistic assets, today. I clearly know, I am aware that this will bring a lot of extra financial burden on me, on the company. However, in such a natural crisis to support immediate families in the need is our responsibility. There is no fun of laying off employees and then donating on the other side. A business is philanthropy in itself if we save jobs, we give jobs, we even help more than we can.
Reviewing all my clients: Mine is a Tech venture, so somewhere I can experiment and work better to change my strategy, to think about what new can be done. I can say I can move things a bit if I keep my mind positive today and don't allow to just stuck in Lockdown and Coronavirus. I reviewed all my clients abroad and Indian clients. I must say "All are Panic". It's tough for all. However, my job is to motivate each one even my clients today, to keep moving the way possible. One of my US-based medical equipment clients is doing fine, but the unavailability of medical products is not letting the sales to be done in the way it should. My team of almost 12 is handling his IT backend. We support him for 24 hours. A Canadian client dealing in various kinds of pipes used during construction work is all shut due to the location he is in. After this Coronavirus breakdown, I acquired an Australian client who met me 2-3 months back while his visit to India. I must say he just gave me hope, that people still need services. To many Indian clients truly, I myself said: "It's ok". Those were clients whom I was offering not the Software Development Services but e-commerce and digital marketing services.
Remote work: Few of my employees are unable to work from home as they do not have the required systems and the internet in their places further. We took a wise decision to send the Computer Systems along with the employees who were local on their last day before Lockdown. However, Few managed to work from home with their own laptops and sustain. Though more than half of my clients are helplessly gone, I am not only focused on sustained current clients, but also to train and help my employees to learn more online and become efficient. Working remotely, I too have taken the driver seat to look for more projects and work to sustain smoothly through this storm.
Courageous Steps: The strongest are the ones who help others when they themselves are in pain. My each and every employee's family is affected today, everybody needs additional emotional and financial support. Before this Lockdown and Coronavirus, I already announced salary hikes in the company. We always hire Very Good and Excellent candidates and I believe they have huge potential and energy. All my employees got a salary hike up to 30% this year, many on the higher side, as I was very happy in the year beginning that this year We are going to Rock and Grow! My courageous steps include :
Keeping my decision firm that there will be no changes in Salary hikes decided.
Not a single employee layoff because of Coronavirus effect.
Taking the driver seat, to search for new projects and work and Being very positive!
Liquidate my personal assets for my team to survive.
Continue supporting the needy and underprivileged too through our Non-Profit Smiles Care
I am proud, in the toughest situation I took the most humble decisions, biased to humanity, not the business, which brings happiness and peace to my mind, motivating me to even work hardest in the coming days.
I am an entrepreneur whose venture is bootstrapped, organically grown, marginally profitable and till now never took bank loans. This will be the first time in my almost 7 years of the rollercoaster entrepreneurial journey that I might take a bank loan for additional help to save jobs of my team and to grow business even more!
I am thinking positive... and have much more to share!
Every Entrepreneur should pledge, I will not let myself fall.
My honest writings
Mandeep Kaur Sidhu