"My personality development class played a major role in what I am today. But the highlight used to be our teacher Rajita ma’am. She is the living example of practice what you preach."
Q. What ignited the spark in you to start your own business? How did the idea come about ?
A. After pursuing my MBA from IIPM, I ventured into real estate as it was booming. I saw a lot of potential in the sector where even brokers were earning a good living. I started freelancing with a friend and later joined a real estate company called Investors Clinic (IC) in Noida. I was one of the star performers in IC, they sent me to Dubai for a property show where I made a record by cracking 28 deals in just 3 days. I was proud of myself for this achievement and decided to take a plunge and start my own business. My first venture was called 'Invest Wisely' with the tag line 'Give right direction to your money'. I had a team of 5 people working with me who were actually doing 20 people's work. I was able to achieve this because I believe in collective success and never an individual one.
From Noida we ventured into Lucknow because I could feel the saturation in Noida market and saw great potential in smaller markets. So I pushed myselffrom my comfort zone and left my home and family to live in Lucknow. I hail from UP so I had lot of connections there but it took me more than 17 months to earn a buck. I moved from Sole Proprietorship to a Pvt Ltd Company. And my company Maqson Developers Pvt Ltd was born.
Initially I wanted to get into construction but I quickly realized that I will have to block my funds for really long time to earn returns so I turned my focus into developing land as it required less investment with quick returns. Thus started the process ofbuying farm lands and converting them into housing plots for lower middle class buyers.
We developed 5 colonies in 4 years. But unfortunately, due to demonitization in 2016 which completely hampered the real estate sector ourbusiness suffered a lot. Not to be disheartened easily we worked hard to find a way out to improve our financial position and we recovered swiftly by moving into govt tendering. Now I can proudly say we are into sand mining in UttarPradesh and one of the few companies who are registered with MSTC which is the Mining Tendering Authority of India.
Q. What is the best advice you ever got? From whom ?
A. It is very hard to choose the best advice because you need a lot of great advice to be a successful entrepreneur specially in India. But I received one in my initial days which was to maintain a daily task diary. It basically removes the emotional aspect attached to the work and it simply becomes a task which you need to complete. The consequences of maintaining a to-do-list were that I became very good with time management and started valuing my time more. Because after all you and your competitor have the same 24 hours and you need to accomplish more in the same duration to beat them.
Q. "Great leaders are also great speakers” Do you agree ? How did your personality development classes help you in your business ?
A. I think great leaders might not be great speakers but they need to be good communicators. Like in my case more than addressing a large audience I am always better at one on one communication. I tailor make motivation as per the individual's need. I believe in involving and not informing.
My personality development class played a major role in what I am today. But the highlight used to be our teacher Mrs Rajita Chaudhuri. She is the living example of practice what you preach.
Q. What are the key elements to starting and running a successful business ?
A. My formula is simple think of your business akin to driving a car. Just the way a car runs on four wheels, find out the four key elements required to drive your business. Now see if you already have at least two of them. In today's competitive scenario it is difficult to develop all the key elements from scratch so one needs to have some edge.
Execution holds a great amount of importance in running a successful business. And above all develop self discipline and perseverance to become a good driver of your business. For example, let us say if you want to open a restaurant, the four key elements according to me would be location and ambience, food and service, marketing and promotion and good fund management. So if you have a good hospitality background and a great location, it will give you an edge over your competitors. To conclude, I strongly believe one should play around with one's resources and knowledge.
Q. Marketing is the most important aspect of a business. How do youmarket your business ?
A. Marketing strategy depends upon the nature of the business. In my case I follow thesestrategies.
1- I create hype and publicity around my projects by creating attractive and informative hoardings and brochures. I ensure they are clear, concise and made from good quality paper. One of our hit campaigns had a tagline 'Plot bhi, Investment bhi'. I used vernacular language to connect with my target audience. So identify your target audience and find out what will appeal them.
2- I believe credibility plays a major role in real estate. So to build credibility in my customer's mind, I hired employees with good personality and communication skills. Even though they cost me more than a regular guy but eventually my workforce is the face of my company. If my customers meet a sales agent with pleasing personality, it subconsciously creates a good impression about my project.
3- I strongly feel word of mouth publicity is the best form of marketing. So I ran a referral program and started giving handsome returns to anyone who got me asale through reference.
These are the key strategies that have helped me in successfully marketing and growing my business.
Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out what would it be ?
A. One should always keep margins from the beginning. I know people start focusing on scalable business and grabbing the market before making profits but it’s very important to make a profit so that part of it can be saved and the rest should be reinvested into the business. This is the best way to keep growing steadily.
Q. What motivates you ?
A. I want to do a lot for my family, my community and ultimately the society. I want to earn a lot and do good for people around me. This is what keeps me going day in day out.
Q. What makes you happy ?
A. Achieving small goals daily makes me happy.
Q. What sacrifices have you had to make to become a successful entrepreneur ?
A. I have made work my priority and I design my life around that. So I definitely miss out on the social scenes.
Q. What is the secret to your daily productivity ?
A. I notice every little thing around me. I always see that people's reaction change once you do well. So whenever I get upset with anyone around me, I use that as amotivation.And my family is such a critic, their criticism is the secret to my daily productivity.
Q. Which other company apart from yours do you admire the most ?
A. I like companies which are fast movers rather than first movers. For example Oppo and Vivo who strengthened their distributor network by offering huge margins. In return the distributors/sellers became a mouth piece of their brand. Another example would be Google, it is the last search engine but the most used in the world.
Q. Your favourite quote ?
A. I agree with Steve Jobs when he said “If you don't build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”
Q. Your favourite vacation spot ?
A. It’s hard to choose just one place but broadly Europe. Its got a nice mix of everything.
Q. Your favourite designer ?
A. I am not into designer clothes. I am very simple when it comes to dressing.
Q. Your favourite movie / song ?
A. Movies : It is hard to pick one movie but I can watch Pursuit of Happiness zillion times.
Song: I like all the songs of the trio Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Mukesh. Otherwise I love jazz music.