Which fish is in your net?

An entrepreneur needs to strategize according to how his Start-Up is moving. Is the entrepreneur looking for new opportunities or does the entrepreneur want to improvise on the existing product or service?

Cannibalisation is quite common in the corporate world but the same cannot be said with the Start-Up businesses. Corporates can afford cannibalisation because of their in-depth market research, marketing & sales strategy & benefits associated with mass production. So, what is that a Start-up business can do when the realisation dawns that it has to go back to the drawing board or turn an obstacle into an opportunity?

Turritopsis a kind of jellyfish when matures doesn’t die but choose to transform themselves back into their early-juvenile stage one more time. Likewise, an entrepreneur should be able to plan his enterprise/product reinvention well in advance before it reaches its maturity state or once it has reached the maturity stage. When the entrepreneur understands that there is no more growth/ scaling to be done he should go back to the blackboard & come up innovations that will place him in the early stage of a product/business life cycle.

Let us take the example of LEGO that has been promoting entrepreneurship for over 80 years. The enterprise that was started in 1932 tells a lot more about entrepreneurship that every entrepreneur can learn from. It is a story about Ole Kirk Christiansen a wood carpenter who founded a great company and which was handled by his sons and grandsons. It has been a hallmark toy in many children’s lives. At one point in 2014, Lego was even the top toy company in the world, surpassing Mattel’s Barbie doll. But the Danish toy company wasn’t always a star performer. The growth of video games and the internet threatened the toy company a decade back & LEGO was almost on the brink of bankruptcy. Not only by cutting costs, improving processes, and managing cash flow, did LEGO start to bounce back but also went back to the drawing board and reinvented & refocused its product/business strategy. LEGO came up with a product line called Lego Friends, which appealed to young girls that fought the perception that only boys could play with the building blocks. In 2014, when “The Lego Movie” hit the theatres, Lego got the revenue boost it needed to overshadow Mattel in 2014. Thanks to innovative products and a successful string of movies, Lego is more than just a toy now — it’s a cool franchise.

When wooden toys were considered costly and reached a saturation in sales Ole bought Plastic moulding machine & started making toys in plastic as he believed that an entrepreneur needs to change with the world as change is the only constant thing. He believed that it’s not only important to build a product but also a system & story around it & Never stop improving your product (bricks that could attach to one another) and finally believe in ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES.

Lionfish are gluttonous predators, and they can do a lot of damage to the ecosystem. Efforts by locals and conservationists to eradicate lionfish proved painstaking. So, they developed a unique solution: eat the lionfish. Once the venomous spines are cooked or removed, they become a non-issue, and it turns out lionfish are also tasty. Entrepreneur and restaurateur Ryan Chadwick was on a mission to bring lionfish to New York. He opened a Caribbean-inspired restaurant that saw an opportunity to add a dish with a cause to his menu. There aresome typical descriptors that restaurants might use to help sell a fish: buttery, flaky, fresh. But there’s one that one would think might make it impossible: venomous. Chadwick has been able to make the business profitable and has sold roughly $100,000 worth of lionfish in the past year.

As an entrepreneur the above tale gives us an opportunity to build an enterprise out of an adversity/ predator/obstacle that has been seen as a massive problem by a majority. It is paramount for an entrepreneur to think divergently so as to provide unconventional solutions.

During these tough Covid- 19 times, BookMyShow, an online ticket seller, has been promoting free-to-watch Instagram Live performances in an effort to keep its users engaged. The restaurant aggregator and food delivery firm Zomato are targeting a push into alcohol delivery. The above examples show how an entrepreneur needs to change an adversity into a sustainable opportunity.

The Body Shop might not be the best name for a beauty & cosmetic brand that was founded by Anita Roddick who opened the first Body Shop in 1976. The idea was to market great products with truth instead of hype. Two funeral parlours objected to the name of her shop immediately on her opening up. Anitha did not give up but took on an offensive strategy. She got her story published in local newspapers – that of a woman entrepreneur being harassed by other businesses. Her publicity stunt not only popularised her business name- ‘The Body Shop” but also generated plenty of free promotion for her venture, bringing in plenty of customers. In 1991, Anita was awarded with the World Vision Award for Development Initiative and in 2006 she was able to sell her company for £652 million. Thinking unconventional even for a regular product with any of the business strategies will do wonders for the entrepreneur.

Starfish have no brain or blood but survive in the depth of the vast ocean. How is this possible? They find very clever and simple ways to get around it as seawater is pumped throughout their body as a replacement for blood. The water delivers the key nutrients to the starfish allowing its organs to function properly and the use of water saves space as there is no need for a complex blood system. Moreover, since seawater is highly abundant, they will never run out of it. What is that an entrepreneur can learn from the starfish? The entrepreneur need not necessarily be intelligent but has to have the passion, knowledge & wisdom to use resources that are locally available in abundance to not only survive but also sustain over a long period of time. The starfish teaches an entrepreneur to look for solutions for its problems in the simplest of form rather than make them complex & complicated. Have an enterprise that is agile so that it can become flexible whenever & wherever its needed.

“Kindness” a social enterprise founded by Chandani a 15-year-old in Bhopal aims to save lives and provide lovely animals with a home. The entrepreneurship journey for Chandani has been both challenging and fulfilling. Seeing people change with their initiatives gave her a sense of accomplishment and abundant happiness. Kindness is currently able to feed 70-80 strays daily and has found a home for more than 28 stray dogs. The centre provides shelter to nearly 55 homeless/ abandoned dogs and animals and has accumulated funding for their work. Her vision is to get each stray a home & also aims at initiating a systemized sterilization plan. The firm that has grown over the years has gained a considerable following, even internationally & is on a lookout for collaboration with the government and companies. Let us remember that an entrepreneur starts with wherever he is with what he has & what he can. An entrepreneur needs to be clear in the vision, know the core competencies & focus on being/becoming great in them.

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