Look up ‘Entrepreneur’ in the dictionary and you’ll find it says, ‘an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative and in a way creates employment for others’. But easier said than done, it is not just an art but also a science. Being a successful entrepreneur is a fruit of long struggle, hard work and the desire to excel.
Mr. Shounak Deshmukh, CEO of the Talent Networks, an HR consulting company, is one man who gave up his high profile corporate job to live his dream of being an entrepreneur.
“Being an entrepreneur was not easy at all”, shares Mr. Deshmukh. Coming from 18 years of Human Resources background in a corporate job and playing a support function role, he was never really exposed to the reality of chasing revenue targets. “It was very hard for me to give up my lucrative, predictable corporate pay check. All of a sudden, the glamour of working for a large Financial Service Institutions like JPMorgan wasn’t there”, he recollects. He knew right then that the individual credibility that he had built over the years was his only asset. And his professional and personal associations are exactly what gave him his initial business.
A Rough and Tough Beginning
Shaken as he was from his comfort zone during the start of his venture, Mr. Deshmukh considers himself fortunate to have had like-minded, dedicated colleagues to work with him in the new set up. It was with their help and his own resoluteness that Mr. Deshmukh incorporated ‘Talent Networks’ with the sole aim of creating a world class consulting firm that will help organizations manage the ‘people side’ of their enterprise – effectively, efficiently, and innovatively. “We had a small beginning followed with a steadily increasing presence. It has been our continuous endeavour to focus on our vision of providing ‘360 degree solutions, by adding distinct value to our clients, by consistently innovating and delivering on our promise”, he says. Being a consulting and solutions providing firm, the initial investment was not huge and was taken care of through internal funding by means of Director’s unsecured loans.
All in a day’s work
When he is not working closely with his team addressing delivery issues, guiding and coaching them to meet revenue targets, Mr. Deshmukh is interacting with clients – either pitching for more business or servicing assignments. “Initially thoughts of giving up my entrepreneurial dream and to go back to my corporate job touched my mind several times. However, every time that happened I surprised myself. The confidence of my team made me determined to face newer challenges. It compelled me to develop my business skills, sales & marketing skills and understand the financial implications of running a business”, he shares. Over the years of interacting with Senior HR managers and business leaders, he has learnt to continually get a sense of their ever-changing business challenges and track the latest developments in the market so that they are enabled to serve their clients better. He says, “In the process, we have learnt to be more patient, and have developed our coaching and consulting skills to deal with different styles with varying leadership depths. We have also learnt to recognise and gauge the seriousness of our client in order to avoid misuse of our time”.
Customer is King
Having taken off well, it was now important for Talent Networks to have a strong and dependable client base. “You have to constantly keep adding distinct value to your clients to sustain and survive”, Mr. Deshmukh points out. “In the contingent search business, we are paid for our ‘results, and not for our ‘best efforts’, unlike in our corporate role. It taught us about focusing sharply on the end results and successfully closing the search mandate.” Talent Networks consciously realises that repeat business comes only if the
output and the quality of the delivery is good, so every effort is made to provide the customer exactly what he expects, or at least a little more than that!
Mr. Deshmukh suggests two things that are essential for optimum customer focus: One is a ‘good team’ that understands the clients’ language and needs, picks up abstract assignments and converts them into meaningful and valuable outcomes for the client. Secondly, building relationships with clients to create strong ‘Brand Recall’ is what ensures that your business keeps running.
A final word
“We have learnt that what made us successful in the first two years of our business will not necessarily deliver success as we move forward. So, we ensure that we have a dynamic business approach, which is flexible enough to keep pace with the changing economy.” To young and aspiring entrepreneurs, Mr. Deshmukh has just two pieces of advice:
One, Don’t try to be a serial entrepreneur. Have a dream, a vision to create something that you ‘passionately’ want to realise.
And secondly, Think long term. Being an entrepreneur is a ‘way of life’. By not giving yourself enough time to succeed, you are only setting yourself up for failure as an entrepreneur.
So, Chase your Dream and Live it!
Reagan Chettiar MMS (2012-14)
Rahul Girisan MMS (2012-14)