While businesses across the world have seen new lows, Piyush Goyal’s perhaps the only person whose firm actually performed better in 2020 than it did the year before that. “Covid hit us hard as well. But because of that we’ve innovated. We’ve digitalized the whole ordering process. Earlier retailers used to visit the factory and decide what to order, but now that’s done digitally. This has really been a game-changer for us since we’re way ahead in procuring orders and forming a network as compared to other firms in Ludhiana. Online marketing has also become the norm of the day, and pre-covid, I wasn’t keen on it, but now we’re solidifying our digital footprint.”
In fact, rather than just adapting momentarily, Goyal has asked all his employees to model a framework for business that takes covid as a given. “I don’t really believe that a disease like this would ever totally vanish. It will keep re-emerging, and if it does, that will affect our business model. I know it’s a grim thing to say, but that’s what I’m going forward with.”
Prior to starting out as an entrepreneur, Goyal was not looking for work that involved a lot of risk, but he admits that business has taught him to embrace risks and face them head-on. That mindset was reflected in his handling of the firm when covid struck. Not only did he enact the changes mentioned above, but to sustain the 30-40%/ of growth that his company has seen every year, he brought in some very simple, yet effective measures.
“We did not cut down on production. Our team was pared down due to covid, and when the lockdown was lifted, we were left with only half the workforce. I took that as an opportunity to give the remaining workers greater responsibilities. I had planned a good winter season for ourselves, and I incentivized all employees to bring in sales, and that worked”, said Piyush.
The Growtharator programme has actually altered the way he looked at his business and workers. “The concept of growth used to be about sales only. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that it was more than that, but the wheeling and dealing of the day preoccupied my mind at that time. The pandemic gave me time to think, and the Growtharator programme pushed this philosophy forward that growth must never emerge from a single aspect of business. It must be comprehensive. So that’s what we’re working towards now.”
As a team-building effort, Goyal has earmarked one day of every month when the whole staff would engage in some kind of social work together. “We’ve started with langar. Anyone who wants to can come and have langar. For the time being we’re trying to introspect and keep things within the factory premises, but we have planned some work outside too.” Goyal has also been in touch with the authorities to get his employees, their families as well as acquaintances to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
As a knitwear and embroidery firm owner, Goyal acknowledges the fact that there’s a huge pay gap between artisans according to gender. “Hand embroidery is mostly carried out by women, and they’re severely underpaid.” Goyal believes that a regulatory compliance is the need of the hour to address this issue, since that would have to be followed by every firm. “I personally don’t like to pay that low, but then I also have to compete in the market, so I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
Goyal, who was initially averse to taking up risk, advises all budding entrepreneurs to just go with the idea. “There’s no idea in the world where you cannot find a chance to fail.” Risk is a constant, he feels, but profit will follow if you do things in the right manner and get the nerve of the market. But to do things in the right manner, one must educate themselves since, as Goyal says, “in today’s world, knowledge is power.”
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