Ishwar Chugani, the man behind the popular brand Giordano Middle East, recently shared his thoughts about branding in his blog titled “My Journey Towards Entrepreneurship,” which he published in the Giordano Middle East official website.
Ishwar said he has learned many lessons about becoming a successful entrepreneur over the years. “It’s not magic – in fact, it’s quite basic,” he said.
To those who would like to open a business, here are eight simple pieces of advice that Ishwar said he has developed in over three decades of entrepreneurship.
1. Keep it simple: Eliminate complications and barriers. Simplify your processes to streamline operations in order and create more value. Our strategy has been to simplify our product offerings so that customers find it easy to shop. This principle also applies to our direct line – people are able to talk to me directly and not go through a maze of people and levels. In my organization, any staff can come and speak directly to me. This simple process also empowers our employees to speak up, and, in most cases, we can address an issue before it becomes a problem.
2. Empower people. Yes, big word! We work with people not for people. I have taught my employees the same principle I applied when I set foot in Dubai – come to work not because it’s your job but because it’s your personal business. I am thankful to have learned this very early in my career. Employees should not look at work as a daily grind hoping to finish the eight-hour cycle. They need to look forward to being at work and contributing. They must feel a sense of ownership.
3. 3H – Head, Heart and Hand. Simply put, use common sense, love what you do and work hard. When used altogether, nothing can stop you from moving forward. In most cases, we are not handed things on a silver platter (like inherit a business fortune!) so we really have to treasure what we have on hand and grow it.
4. Motivation from within not without. It may sound somewhat clichéd but you do need to aim high. If you set your goals high, you succeed even when you fail to reach your target. When your goal is mediocre, you fail even if you achieve your aim. Are you engaged? Are you engaging? We need to constantly challenge ourselves because one thing is sure, the world will not wait for us to act – it can go on without us.
5. Don’t be scared of competition. Sometimes a competitor as big as an elephant seems daunting. So, act like a monkey – be nimble, flexible and quick! In this day and age, I realized that our competitors are not just opposing brands. We are also competing with the many distractions our customers face – be it social media channels, lifestyle choices, etc. Remember that in business, you are never trying to beat the competition. You are trying to give your customer something other than what they are receiving from the competition. It is a waste of time and energy trying to beat the competition because in reality, customers do not care about rivalry.
6. Knowledge is power. And by this, I mean knowledge in general – one can gain knowledge from industry, business, environment and social media. Think about it. Read, enrich yourself. One needs to continuously educate oneself, to change the way one thinks – this will ensure that you stay ahead of the pack.
7. Create a great company culture. Your competitors can copy your products or services but not your company culture, so make sure you instil a great one. A culture of learning, transparency , flexibility, and service all go a long way in creating a great foundation for our employees – not just in their careers with us but even beyond. Your company’s culture is your ultimate competitive advantage.
8. Define Success. Believe me, it is relative. You may be doing well and think you’re successful. Others think success is based on how you compare against competitors. So think about your own success and continue to reinvent yourself to stay in the game. When we entered the market 20 years ago, we were relatively unknown. Now, we have built our reputation and image in Dubai and we make efforts to replicate this success in other markets that are unfamiliar with our brand.
Most importantly, and I personally discovered the following statement to be true: Good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who are patient and the best things happen to those who do not give up. So never give up.
Ishwar Chugani is the CEO and Managing Director of Giordano Middle East (FZE) and is also a member of the Management Committee of Giordano International, Hong Kong.
Ishwar is Indian who grew up in the Philippines, studied at De La Salle University and now lives in Dubai since 1979.
He was recently invited by the Filipino Excellence in the Middle East (FEME) to speak at the recent 2nd FEME Forum on branding dubbed, “Know thyself” at Fiesta Pinoy Restaurant. The three-hour forum was attended by Filipino businesspeople and professionals.