Dr AV Anoop, Managing Director of AVA Cholayil Group that owns the popular Medimix and and Melam brands once hired an MBA as an executive assistant. He was given the task of drafting a letter and sending it to the addressee at the quickest possible time. He drafted the letter and searched for the best possible courier which can ensure speedy delivery. And he found out the best courier and delivered within a day. But the irony was that the address was just on the backside of the office. If the MBA guy had taken the pain to find the location of the address he could have very well walked the next building and delivered it personally!
Dr A V Anoop who has an honorary doctorate in alternative medicine and a basic degree in B.Com now takes classes in leading management schools as Marian College, Kuttikanam, Stella Mary’s, Loyola College and IIT Chennai. He said the essential difference between an MBA and and a Non-MBA groomed with in the company is the awareness about what is happening in his or her vicinity and concern for people. If a loud sound is heard in the floor above and if a guy continues to do his work unconcerned, you can assume that he is an MBA!, says Dr Anoop. On the other hand a non-MBA guy who may be a graduate or even less, will run quickly upstairs to find out what happened and if any help is required. That is because he doesn’t believe in ‘core competency’ and sees the entire company and its operations as his own.And he has very much got himself integrated into the work and cutural ethos of the organisation.
There is often a big question raised about several professions whether it can be taught or learned- it includes my own field of journalism, then film making, fine arts, sculpture and management. Although nobody would argue whether or not a chartered accountant, lawyer, surgeon, physician, dentist, or an engineer needs training before he or she can start working.
Management schools worldwide are worried about lesser number of students opting for entrepreneurship while in engineering colleges effort is being made to set up incubators to help students take the first step in the business world. Much of the learning in MBA schools are either theoretical and case study based which may not be relevant to a scenario that the graduate may embark upon after studies. Dr A V Anoop who took a bold decision not to take an offer of government employment and embark on a risky assignment of reviving the Medimix factories that were closed down, now feels that he wouldn’t recommend such an advice to anyone. This is because the success rate in entrepreneurship is about 1%. Even when he recounts his story from nothingness to the hall of fame in Indian business, he tells students not to follow his path because he was successful, each one of them will have to chart their own path. Even his children and relatives can hold top positions in Cholayil group only after completing studies or getting properly groomed. That’s because Medimix is no longer a small company it was when he took over the defunct factory in the 1980’s from his father-in-law Dr V P Sidhan. Dr Anoop says he is a product of all the foolish and idiotic things he has done with his business. It is a long learning curve.
It is still not easy to assess whether a business idea will succeed or not. Or whether one should start off at an young age or wait till forties or fifties to gain maturity. KFC was founded by Colonel Sanders at the age of 66 when he was broke but there are others I have encountered who began in early twenties and ready to retire by the age of 60. In some families and communities, there is a history of risk-averseness tending to go for safe and secure jobs instead of entrepreneurship. One bank manager who never tried entrepreneurship at all had this advice to people venturing out. Atleast keep a proper book of accounts so that you can get an idea when the balance sheet is going in the red. In my two decade old career in business journalism, I have found many successes and failures in business. In hindsight, it is easy to pin point some decisions that might have caused the failure or some mismanagement of finances or people. However, when you are in the hot seat you don’t have the luxury of foreseeing it all because your mind is too much involved in it. Just as a writer or a painter can’t find out out his mistakes in a piece unless he gets the help of someone else.
To all those who think entrepreneurship is risky, just go to nearby shop or a super market. Look at the vast number of branded and perhaps much more unbranded products in the shelves. You get most of the things you want from half-cooked chappatis, snacks, groceries, ropes, plastic goods, food ingredients, fruits, processed foods, dairy products, utensils, buckets and what not. These products are there when you need it because somebody had taken the risk to set up a unit and start distributing.
Read somewhere- when you are employed you work to fulfill some one else’s dream but when you start your own venture, you embark on your dreams.