This is an excerpt from the session on Scaling-Up Businesses at Chandragiri Hills where Mr. Hem Raj Dhakal, MD, IME Group shared his entrepreneurial journey of transforming IME Group from a money transfer service to a multi-vertical group present in diverse sectors.
He shared his insights on the various challenges an entrepreneur faces and stressed on the importance of building the right team and creating structured processes and protocols while scaling up a business. This is an abridged version of what was discussed in the session.
1. What is the one essential thing that enables to successfully manage a business?
– First of all, there is no single thing that can lead to successfully managing a business. My tips to fellow entrepreneurs is to have a structure with a line in command where certain protocols and procedures have to be followed. One should learn to delegate the tasks to the employees and make them feel accountable for the work they are responsible. An entrepreneur cannot run around everywhere which is why building a strong team that can work with you in your pace is always essential. And always have a checklist mechanism to keep track of everything. I conduct meetings on a daily basis with our management and it is also as important to document these meetings rather than verbally conduct it and get done with it. There must be discipline and process at place in an organization.
2. Your products and services cater to a diverse group of people. What do you take into consideration while marketing these products and services?
– I choose to focus on creating products and providing services which touches people's lives. I believe that our customers should be better off using what we have to offer. And what we do is effectively is translated in our marketing message as well, we empower our customers.
3. How do you cultivate an ideal organizational culture?
– The best way to build your organizational culture is by trying to maintain a personal touch with all the employees of your organization, across all the levels. I don't sign my cheques anymore and this is a symbol that I trust my management to make the right decision. You need to make everyone feel like they are an integral part of the organization, and by doing so, you cultivate a culture of loyalty and respect, which goes a long way in today's corporate world.
4. When business is in the early stages, how to deal with cash flow shortages?
– Cash Flow is fundamentally important to run a company. It is necessary to commit to the vision of the company, not just the founder but having the employees strive towards a common goal and see the bigger picture. Providing non-monetary incentives or future financial incentives to everyone always helps.
5. How do you identify which sector to invest in?
– I always invest in the long term. I prefer to invest in those markets which have been overlooked or is currently underserved. To me timing is everything. An entrepreneur needs to be aware about the company's scalability and visualize beforehand of the possibilities it can reach in the future. Numbers and figures do play an important role in making a decision, but sometimes you just need to trust your gut feeling.
6. Were there any investment projects that had failed? And what were the lessons you learnt from them?
– Yes, there has been quite a lot. Without failure one loses an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. There have been many setbacks in projects that did not pan out the way we had anticipated. Your success is glorified in front of the whole world but the hidden failures are the climbing steps to reach it. One of our company was on the verge of collapse, we invested more in it even though we knew it added more risk but eventually we reaped higher return.
7. In an uncertain market like Nepal, how do you convince the investors to invest with you?
– The first thing to get right before bringing in any investor is to get your numbers correct. Transparency and the correct numbers can help a lot in bringing in investors. When you run a company, you should be the one taking higher risk than others. A person should have integrity in whatever he/she does. My philosophy is that you can lose your own money but not of those whose have invested in you. We put the returns of our investors before our own returns and I believe that has made us successful so far.