Escalate

Focus on relationship, businesses depend on it

  • strictly business

Nov 13, 2017-Sanam Chitrakar, who is a certified life mentor and an entrepreneur, started his career as a receptionist in a hotel at the age of 18, after which he worked at various I/NGOs for about a decade.

In 2008, Chitrakar established his own company Aadhar Development & Business Consultant that focuses on research, analysis and consulting. In 2010, he also started NLP Nepal Catalyst for Transformation, which specialised in delivering training programmes.

Chitrakar is also one of the partners at N-Agro that produces seasonal and off-seasonal vegetables. Apart from these companies, he is also partners at Biruwa Advisors that offers business support services and Scootout, a website and an app, which helps people find restaurants around Kathmandu Valley.

Currently, Chitrakar is a managing partner with Ventures Café, a co-working space and a popular restaurant based out of Baluwatar. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Chitrakar talks about the importance of time management and the values all entrepreneurs should eschew. Excerpts:

You are partners at various organisations that do vastly different things. How do you multi-task and master time management?

I have few entrepreneurial theories that align with my basic traits. I just don’t focus on a particular thing, that’s not my trait. 

Most entrepreneurs keep saying ‘stay focused’ but I think that’s a myth. I have been working for almost two decades and I think everything has to be aligned with your particular interests.

If I would have been working full time somewhere, my alignment would have gone haywire. The second thing about multi-tasking and time management is that it completely depends on who I partner my ventures with.

There is no point starting a company without partners. Everything should be partnership-based. If you have partners working alongside you, I don’t think time management or multi-tasking is a big issue because roles and responsibilities are divided accordingly.

My responsibilities are to plan, strategise and help build a team and a successful partnership. If you don’t get along with your partners, maybe, entrepreneurship is not your cup of tea. 

Given the competitive market, how do you ensure that your businesses have competitive advantages? For instance, while talking about Ventures Café, what makes it stand out from the crowd?

It completely depends on how you choose your partners. You don’t start partnerships randomly with a person that you are not well acquainted with. You have to build a healthy relationship in order to grow. In one of the organisations that I am partnered with, it took us about one-and-a-half year to establish it, because we focused more on building relationships before going ahead with public relations. If you have strong partnerships, there will always be an advantage. 

What can business ventures, and corporate houses, do to make their employees more productive?

When you scale up and have multiple people to deal with, relationships play a crucial role. In many corporate companies, what I have observed is that they focus very little on relationships. When you have a small number of employees, it is easy to build a comfortable relationship, but in a large organisation, it is difficult to create one-on-one relationships with your employees. In addition, it is difficult to track your employees’ performances. So, things have to be carefully systematised. For corporate giants to be successful, they need to focus on building positive relationships with their employees. 

What inspires you? How do you generate ideas?

Primarily, one needs to learn to arrange their interests. If you have a deep interest in something, you will go the extra mile to succeed in it. So, that is why I give so much importance and value to ‘interest.’ You at least need to have some kind of inspiration or aspiration to move forward.

My other hidden motivation is the commitment to make an impact. The companies I am partnered with are different because they all strive to make a social impact and not just a handsome profit.  When you have a cause-driven company, it automatically creates a positive perception. If money was the factor, I would rather be a realtor. My value lies in helping people. This keeps me inspired and creative.

How do you handle frustration and stress that inevitably arise at the workplace?

You can easily handle frustration and stress if you know how to manage expectations. I am not a dominant shareholder in any of the companies that I am involved with. I always try to stay in the minority.

What I have noticed in serial entrepreneurs is that if you have majority of the share, the expectations increases and it is daunting to live up to them. So, I believe that one needs to learn the art of managing expectations. You should channel the expectations of your family, partners, employees and your clients. Time management is also crucial to that endeavour. 

I recently spoke about my failure story to MBA students. Everyone talks just about success stories but I like to talk about my bad experiences. It is frustrating but you know yourself better from failures and you learn and grow from them. 

Why has entrepreneurship become a buzzword among millenials? 

Entrepreneurship has become overhyped because of its glamorous side. The journey a successful entrepreneur must take is anything but smooth sailing—one needs to have outstanding traits.

The problem that I see in the young entrepreneurs is that they lack skills and the right attitude. To become an entrepreneur, one needs to explore and gather experiences; not just follow trends. You need to discover what you love doing.

The best part about being an entrepreneur is that you can create a business out of anything. You just need to learn how to master your skills. Today young entrepreneurs idolise Steve Jobs and Mark Zukerberg, but they forget the struggle and challenges these men suffered through to get to where they are.

There is no point being arrogant and possessive about your ideas—that attitude is definitely wrong. I think the word ‘passion’ is also overhyped. It is said that if you don’t have passion, you’ll fail; which is not always right. You are putting yourself under unnecessary pressure.

What are the five key skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

First of all, an individual should focus on building relationships. Enterprises depend on relationships. Second, you need to have self-control. Third, be innovative. Fourth, you need to learn to say no and lastly, work in a team. 

Published: 13-11-2017 09:11

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