shetty: Suniel Shetty’s 6-step formula for every start-up to stay afloat: Focus on survival & prioritise customers

The world is headed for an economic downturn amid global uncertainty. Finding it difficult to raise funds, many new-age start-ups are resorting to cost-cutting measures such as massive lay-offs.

In a lengthy LinkedIn post, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty – who made his debut on the professional networking platform in August – addressed his concerns about the global economic crisis with his 3,30,530 followers.

Without mentioning BYJU’s name in his post, the actor said that the edtech major’s decision to lay off 2,500 employees was a tough pill to swallow. He said that this financial to avoid redundancies and duplication of roles in the company affected around 10,000 lives (2,500 employees multiplied by their four family members).

“I’d like to think that this wasn’t an easy decision to make. Praying that the impacted ones are able to get back on their feet at the earliest,” his post read.

While valuations and fundraising activity saw a sharp rise over the last few years, the global sentiment has turned the scenario upside down. The 61-year-old, who is all set to mark his digital debut with the web series ‘Invisible Woman’, came across an interesting post from a leading global accelerator program a few months ago and kept going back to it when the tough got going.

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In all the global uncertainties surrounding us, Shetty said that he continues to believe in the India story. Among other factors, he said that the country’s population and its aspirations will provide a good opportunity for businesses to grow, even if it’s at a slower rate than earlier.

Explaining the start-up accelerator note to its portfolio companies, the actor-cum-investor wrote, “It was their take on what the global economic downturn could mean for the future of these companies & tips on how best to survive what could be a difficult period over the next couple of years. I believe this note was made from a global perspective & that the severity of a global slowdown may or may not impact India to the same extent as some of the other major economies.”

Shetty said this was the best time for early-stage, and small and mid-sized businesses to establish some operating principles – at least till the global sentiment starts to improve.

Sharing his winning mantra, the ‘Dhadkan’ star said that staying alive (or surviving) the turbulent times is the most crucial step of all. “Assuming no one can predict how bad the global slowdown will get, plan for the worst. If you’re not seeing growth, switch to a survival mindset. Even if it means just hitting salaries and basic profits. The opportunities will return, if you stay alive,” he wrote in his post.

He further advised start-ups to ‘find their course’. It may seem easier to change the direction based on pressure from your competitors, but the journey of every business is different from the other. “Because X company did it a certain way, raised money, grew at a certain rate, or hired 30 folks, doesn’t mean it needs to be your journey too. Identify a pace that suits your story. Don’t be in a rush to scale,” he added.

Also, constantly being worried about earning the ‘unicorn status’ won’t get the business anywhere. Shetty recommended not following the herd and focusing on building a solid business. “It’s scary when every other startup you come across claims it’s going to be a unicorn in three years. Don’t let that be the goal. Apple, Google, Disney etc were focused on doing what they did, really well. Just build a solid business, and valuations will follow.”

According to Shetty, switching to the bootstrapping mindset is the way forward. “Rely on your cash flow to fund growth. Find ways to optimise cash flow. Investing more than you earn, on growth, or overleveraging is a bet that could wait.”

The entrepreneur-investor, who is the owner of restaurant chains like Mischief Dining Bar and Club H2O in Mumbai, said that customer is king and every business should prioritise their client’s needs. He stressed the importance of learning and adapting to customer feedback.

Besides his businesses in the hospitality sector, Shetty has made a name for himself in industries like retail and real estate too. The actor also owns a production banner – Popcorn Entertainment – that has films like ‘Khel – No Ordinary Game’ (2003), ‘Rakht’ (2004) and ‘Bhagam Bhag’ (2006), among others.

Last but not the least, focusing on profitability is also important, according to Shetty. “Long-term growth can come from reinvesting profits.” He shared that earning profits and his savings from one business helped him build the next one.

“Think long term. Think sprint vs marathon. Think Rahul Dravid. Stable & slow is just as great,” he concluded his post.

In August, Shetty joined the likes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and global icon Priyanka Chopra as a LinkedIn Influencer.

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