ANAND SUDARSHAN, CEO, MANIPAL GROUP, AN EDUCATION SERVICE PROVIDER
Clearly, we need to ignite growth. In order to keep unemployment in check, we need at least 6 per cent growth in GDP. Frankly, a lot of fixing can be done and over the near term, the government can send some signals to boost consumption. Over a longer term, decisions need to be taken to boost up the infrastructure. Look at the mess in the power industry because of the coal issue. From an education industry standpoint, the budget is usually not a big event for us. But if I were to make some suggestions, I’d request for infrastructure status for the education sector to reduce costs on the input side and a student loan guarantee corporation to help more individuals secure educational loans.
SATYA PRABHAKAR, FOUNDER AND CEO, SULEKHA.COM, AN E-COMMERCE COMPANY
The most important thing that can be done to accelerate growth of the economy is to invest heavily in communications—electronic (phone, Internet, mobile) and physical (roads, rail, aviation)—and make it cheap and frictionless. In human history, societies that have invested in communications have grown to be vibrant, sophisticated economies when compared to those with poor communications. To ensure growth in his business despite this slowdown, an entrepreneur can have diversified, but not unrelated, revenue streams. They can also choose revenue streams that are relatively recession-proof and have a large enough customer base to compensate for loss of some. Sulekha.com is not reliant on a few big customers. We have served over 60,000 small to medium businesses and hence, our risk is diversified over a larger base of smaller customers. And they continue to spend money with us as they see the service we provide to them turning into money instantly. Around 95 per cent of an entrepreneur’s time should be devoted to building a better business that delivers remarkable value today and by investing to deliver even better value in the future.
ANAND SUNDARESAN, MD, SCHWING STETTER, CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER
The government is the biggest customer in every country, more so, in a developing country like India. If it keeps pushing hard on infrastructure development and makes it comfortable for the FDIs to invest in India, GDP will grow. Government needs to take bold steps towards bringing down the investment cost and introduce tax reforms, which will accelerate the growth of corporate India. If an entrepreneur is investing in areas like infrastructure, consumer items, capital equipments, durables and semi-durables, he/she has to control costs, innovate, make quality products and offer best after-sales service. This will ensure growth under any circumstances. There also needs to be a mechanism to control stashing away of unaccounted money abroad and bring back such accumulations to India by offering immunity schemes on criminal proceedings against offenders and at the same time, penalising them by forcing deposit of these funds into a government treasury, interest free for 15 – 20 years, which can be usefully deployed for infrastructure growth and development of the country.
K.PANDIARAJAN, FOUNDER CHAIRMAN OF MA FOI RANDSTAD, HR SERVICE PROVIDER
On the GDP front, it is time that we made growth-focused investments. We shouldn’t get caught up thinking about fiscal deficit and high debt, and ensure that capital investments are made rather than revenue drains. The current slowdown is certainly due to policy paralysis rather than anything else. I would also like the entire skills development initiative that was announced in the budget seven years ago to take shape in a more concrete fashion. We wanted to train about 50 crore people by 2022, and it is time we made progress on this number. We’ve predicted that over 16 lakh jobs will be created in the upcoming year and focus on education and skills development is crucial.
DR. ANAND DESHPANDE, CHAIRMAN, MD AND CEO, PERSISTENT SYSTEMS, AN OUTSOURCED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
When business is slow, an entrepreneur’s mood is not very upbeat and his risk appetite is low, which makes it hard to sell anything to them. My experience is that you have to really convince them on how your contribution to their business is going to help them make more money. Typically, what happens is, in an up market, the person who is buying always has ideas of what he wants to buy. In a down market, they are waiting for ideas to come. So, the entrepreneur (vendor) has to be proactive. It is also hard to find new customers when the market is down. But one must strategise to do well with the existing customers. I have also found that customers want to hear from vendors about ways to grow their topline rather than just save costs. If your product or service helps them with this growth, then that’s the best way to get out of the slowdown.