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10 things I’ve learned from setting up a $4 billion business from scratch

Siddharth Shankar, CEO of Tails Trading 10 things I’ve learned from setting up a $4 billion business from scratch

Siddharth Shankar started his first business from scratch in India, after he left behind a career in banking. He built it into a group of companies now worth $4.7 billion.

Last year he founded his second business and began to build it, brick by brick. The opportunity presented itself when he was undertaking his MBA at Strathclyde Business School.

Siddharth arrived just after the referendum on Brexit and realised this was the moment to convince British businesses of something he has believed for a long time - the potential British brands have in the Asian marketplace.

Siddharth knew all too well that Asian economies were booming, as were their populations, and that they boasted the fastest growing middle class in the world. He also knew British products were increasingly in high demand.

He realised many UK businesses would be looking for new growth avenues in the lead up to Brexit and exporting to Asia could be a brilliant opportunity. And so he founded Tails Trading.

What has he learnt from setting up the business, which now partners 250 small and medium-sized enterprises to enable them to export high quality British goods to Asia?

Sticking power

Stick to the strategy you set out on day one of founding your business. Always have this in your mind as the raison d’être of your company. Let it guide you.

Whenever you’re faced with a difficult business decision, refer back to it. Which option is the one that best fits with this? This will ensure you stay true to your company’s values and that every decision you make is a step towards reaching the goal of the company.

Never forget why you started doing what you’re doing. Use this to guide you.

Stay passionate

It’s very easy, once your organisation grows from you, to a small team, to bigger offices and national or international success, to lose the heart of a business.

But that heart and passion for what you do, or the product you make, is what sets you apart from the competition. It’s what drives the business forwards.

So stay passionate and don’t lose momentum - always push harder for the next goal. But remember that staying passionate doesn’t mean working 24/7. To succeed in business, you need to have balance, stay physically and mentally healthy and eat well.

Keep future focused

Maintain your vision and keep your eyes firmly on the future. It’s a business leader’s job to see the things that others aren’t seeing - the new opportunities, the challenges and the disruptors. Make sure you have the resources in place to exploit them when they arise.

Your network is your net worth, not the other way around

People are your greatest asset, so go to that networking event after work and stay in touch with old colleagues and bosses.

The contacts you make and the strength of your networks are the key to success.

Keep learning

It’s crucial to ensure you keep seeking new knowledge, new ways of innovating and new technology. The day we stop learning is the day we get stuck.

Don’t underestimate the value of hard work

If you want to get a job done, the only way to do it is through sheer hard work. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

There is no excuse not to work hard if it’s for your own business. This is the ultimate motivator.

Be kind

To everyone. No one can do business by themselves, so help your staff, colleagues and business partners.

Then, when you need their help, when you need them to go the extra mile, they’ll be there in return.

Don’t let emotion get in the way

Tranquillity and logic are your best friends as a business leader.

Make clear, rational, well thought out decisions based on research and experience. Never let your emotion into the equation - it clouds judgement and can lead to disaster.

Take a step back and look at every situation from an objective place.

No opportunities are too small or too big

Every opportunity is valid and worth exploring. Even the tiniest opportunity could lead to something valuable. And the biggest ones, however overwhelming, are the ones that could make your business.

Intelligence is worthless without diligence

Your brain will get you so far in business, but careful and persistent effort is the difference between success and failure. Read more like this

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