Constant reinvention is key: Mervyn Raphael
Entrepreneurship is exciting and fun, but not as glamorous as many budding entrepreneurs imagine it to be
in order to scale, entrepreneurial ventures have to move beyond the entrepreneur alone
Having started Mercer Consulting in India, I was at a crossroads in my career. I had dabbled in entrepreneurship in the past – having ventured into sectors as diverse as manufacturing and education. My entrepreneurial streak took over yet again, as I saw an opportunity to build an organization from scratch, centered on my personal anchor of learning and autonomy. During that time, having had the opportunity to meet other senior leaders in the region who had similar thoughts, we worked together towards the genesis of Performance Consulting International.
Performance Consulting International aims to deliver the best by partnering with clients and going the extra mile to ensure successful implementation rather than stopping at merely recommending solutions. The team is high on integrity and ethics internally as well as in their dealings with clients. Through the years, we have built a place where people truly enjoy coming to work every day, where each employee can look forward to meeting their personal aspirations and also get amply rewarded in the process.
In the present business context, it is becoming increasingly clear that HR leaders, who emerge as business enablers, will stand to grow. HR as a “support” function is going to become less relevant in the years to come. Another interrelated trend amongst young HR professionals is the willingness to take more risk, gain more exposure and move across functions. Today, we are seeing more and more HR professionals moving into CEO/business leader roles. We are also seeing more and more non-HR professionals (marketing, finance leaders, etc.) moving into HR roles. Functional silos have ceased to exist at senior levels. This high impetus on HR in driving business is no doubt making HR entrepreneurship an exciting place.
However, for being an entrepreneur, the biggest learning is the constant need to reinvent oneself and one’s organization. Capabilities to remain relevant in today’s world are extremely important. It is also critical to acknowledge one’s own limitations and be humble enough to take help from others when required. Also, another learning is the understanding that each individual’s aspirations are different – making space for these differing aspirations at the workplace has also been a key learning.
Entrepreneurship is exciting and fun, but not as glamorous as many budding entrepreneurs imagine it to be. I feel it is very important for the entrepreneur to have the stomach to see through the ups and downs of the first couple of years with equanimity. In this time, there are likely to be more downs than ups. A strong orientation towards managing costs is also essential.
Building the financial capability to manage an entrepreneurial venture in its infancy, with little supporting income, therefore becomes important. For instance, for the first few years of PCI’s existence, I did not even draw a salary – the long-term dream in those cases is larger than short-term sacrifices that need to be made.
For young entrepreneurs, it may be a good idea to bring together a complementary team of 2-3 people and leverage each other’s strengths when starting a new venture.
Further, in order to scale, entrepreneurial ventures have to move beyond the entrepreneur alone. As Performance Consulting International moves its focus towards global expansion, it does not have an over-reliance on the entrepreneur and today runs on its own steam. Currently, my role is to focus on growing the business in international markets.
Mervyn Raphael is Founder at Performance Consulting International. He has earlier worked with organizations like Hindustan Unilever, AT&T and Mercer HR Consulting.