Around six years ago, a management and business sustainability expert observed that the Indian GEC space could not have more than three to four players. His conclusion was that Zee TV could be taken over, recounted Subhash Chandra, chairman, Essel Group, addressing delegates at an IAA Knowledge Conclave in Mumbai on 26 October.
His takeaway from the finding, Chandra explained, was not that it was motivated or planted, but that Zee had to become stronger. The finding was based on the understanding that among the GECs of the time, Zee wasn’t faring too well. And going by the premise was that there was space only for three or four, the expert had concluded that the ones at the bottom would get acquired, recalled the Zee Group founder, elaborating on one of his mantras for entrepreneurs.
“True entrepreneurs should never allow fear to set into minds and systems; it multiplies once it sets in with each passing moment. There are times when you will feel fear – about losing people, clients, and other things. Don’t allow it to multiply and you will be fine – nothing is permanent,” he said.
Treading into the unknown
Chandra began his talk by defining entrepreneurs as people who venture into an unknown area - and create an enterprise.
The first ‘essential’ he listed for entrepreneurs was to never go back on commitments. In case one has not been able to, he urged them to call and say so in person, to the other party involved.
He recalled the first months at Zee TV, when there was no system to measure viewership, and the team bundled postcards sent by viewers and took them to advertisers.
In those early days, the team also brought in a Rs 1.5 crore advertising deal – at a time when ‘one lakh per day was a big thing’. On figuring the deal out, he realised that the deal would see them ‘losing’ Rs 1.5 crore. Asked if they should cancel, Chandra said they should go ahead, and keep the commitment. They ended up losing, in his estimate, Rs 80 lakh in the process.
“We must never go back on our words,” reflected Chandra.
Living in the present; with customer centricity
The past, said Chandra, quoting his teacher of yesteryears, creates a sense of regret. He explained, “Regrets are more powerful than success; they come to the fore.” On the other end, he reasoned that the future creates anxiety.
“The art of living is only if you know how to live in the present. Try to be in the present – it will not give you stress,” he said.
The next point the Essel Group chairman made related to customers, and putting them at the centre of all that an entrepreneur does.
“Before any action, ask what your customer will think. If that’s the attitude, money will automatically come,” he said.
When Zee remained market leader for many years, it became complacent, ceded Chandra, adding that it had stopped listening to its customers leading to a fall.
He surmised, “You are no more an enterprising person if you no longer listen to your customer.”