Published in Corporate Dossier, ET on Septemeber 28, 2012.
We are a mid sized company trading in engineering goods. The slowdown has hit us badly and on top of that the Chinese competitors are growing aggressive by the day. The costs are mounting due to inflation and revenue has been falling in the last couple of years. To make things worst, key employees have been leaving too. Honestly I see no future in the stage we are and in the industry I am in. Help me take a decision to quit or try and rejuvenate a dying business.
Whether I help you take a decision, or not, you have already taken the decision, and even if you have not, the market seems to have taken the decision for you. Or maybe not. Maybe that is your reading of the market. Maybe out there are buyers that are looking for goods and services and ideas that only you can offer. You have to find them. Or you have to join forces with the competition, help them so that you can help yourself. Or you have to rollback on your own vision: perhaps you overreached yourself. There is no one answer to the situation you are in. It all depends on how you read the situation. For you your reading is the truth. Others may read the situation very differently.
You are, at this moment like Vishnu seated on the serpent of Adi-Ananta-Sesha, One-Infinity-Zero, you can take one clear decision and stick by it, lose yourself in infinite analyses and visions, or shut shop and go to sleep a dreamless slumber. Around you is the ocean of milk, the market of possibilities, that will exist always, whatever choice you make.
You could choose to be Vishnu’s last avatar, Kalki, ride the white horse, brandish the sword, and shut operations, as your world has been overwhelmed by forces that you cannot push back. You could choose to be Vishnu’s first avatar, Matsya, the tiny fish, hoping that a Manu will protect you, put you in a pot, save you from the big fish, and spend the rest of your life growing, claiming resources, safe in a bubble, forgetting the jungle out there. Or you can choose to be Kurma, the next avatar, churning the ocean of milk, balancing opposing forces: buyers and sellers, regulators and competitors, investors and employees, constantly aware when to pull, and when to let go.
The thing about business is that the yajaman takes the call. Markets may rise and fall, competitors may come and go, but it is you who steers the direction of your ship. Your employees are jumping ship perhaps because they see you directionless and lost. Imagine their anxiety. You are so consumed by your fears that you cannot see their fears. That is the real issue. Not the world out there but you. The collapse is more with you, than outside.
You may quit this business but then where will you go? You will have to start another business, or take up a job. The yagna will restart. And the conditions then and there may or may not be favorable. There are no guarantees in life. And no permanence. That is why everyone seeks a leader, a yajaman, a Vishnu, who brings hope and faith to the rest. You need to rediscover the Vishnu within you, or seek one for yourself. You need to find that Vishnu, within or without, to be able to preserve what you have created, adapt it to the yuga you are in, so that it survives, even thrives.