Beyond Borders

The ability to spot opportunities and do business beyond borders is increasingly becoming the defining trend that will separate the entrepreneurial from the rest.

Government de-regulation is opening national borders for commerce.Trading and investing beyond national borders is now commonplace and is either the salvation or the death knell of the Indian economy. We have an enviable domestic market and that in itself is a threat unless domestic enterprises shake themselves out of their hitherto comfort zones and gear themselves up to face the pressures of competition from across the border, now made easier, thanks to the World Trade Organisation.

India and other developing countries will continue to oppose and seek amendments to the WTO proposals that prohibit developing countries from following the same policies that developed countries pursued to make their domestic enterprises internationally competitive. But the WTO threats are real. The trick, if one is to survive and prosper, will be to identify emerging threats before they become real and then prepare for them. It will be equally if not more important to learn to spot opportunities before they arise, and take advantage of them. Not for nothing has it been said that success comes to those who, when an opportunity presents itself, is fully prepared to exploit it . Alexander Graham Bell said “When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us” And in business, opportunity may knock but once; it usually does not lean on the doorbell !

This competition from across the border will almost certainly flatten high-cost producers, and perhaps even decimate entire industries, especially in the small-scale sector. India already finds itself in a situation of “jobless growth”. Where will the new jobs for all those youngsters entering the job market come from?

The alternative to entering the job market, for young men and women, is for them to create their own jobs and become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship in India (outside of family-controlled businesses) is largely necessity-based, not opportunity driven. Entrepreneurs in this country have traditionally not been looked up to as role models. It is still widely believed that you cannot become a successful entrepreneur in this country without bending the rules. But this outlook is undergoing changes, and the main reason for this is the recent successes of Indian entrepreneurs in the information technology industry. Their example has fired the imagination of a whole new generation, and entrepreneurship is now considered a more desirable career choice. The Indian IT industry-notably software exports-is the best possible example of ‘entrepreneurship beyond borders’. Drugs and pharmaceuticals is another.

The comparable advantage of developing countries will expand beyond low labour costs. This trend is a clear warning to those who are basking in the comforts of what now appears to be a perennial demand for their products and services. If industry is so complacent and not anxious where is the opportunity for innovation ?

Entrepreneurship is truly going to be the most important driver for economic growth. The entrepreneurial attributes are constantly under test in the wake of the emerging threats from severe international competition.

Necessity is the mother of invention. In fact these threats provide immense possibilities for our businesses to innovate. Innovation is the key to a country’s ability to participate and reap the emerging benefits of globalisation. A country that fosters innovation and supports entrepreneurs will emerge as the strongest in the future.

More Indians need to emulate the early pioneers and move towards opportunity-driven entrepreneurship. In jump-starting any such process, it would help immensely if those who have already made their mark as entrepreneurs play the role of mentors and incubators to late starters in the entrepreneurial sweepstakes . We have seen this phenomenon in the IT industry, but the mentors and incubators have almost entirely been Indian-Americans with successful businesses in Silicon Valley. More of them from within the country are needed, applying their expertise across a much wider range of industries.

(Published in Business Today October 27, 2002 – By Invitation)The ability to spot opportunities and do business beyond borders is increasingly becoming the defining trend that will separate the entrepreneurial from the rest.

Government de-regulation is opening national borders for commerce.Trading and investing beyond national borders is now commonplace and is either the salvation or the death knell of the Indian economy. We have an enviable domestic market and that in itself is a threat unless domestic enterprises shake themselves out of their hitherto comfort zones and gear themselves up to face the pressures of competition from across the border, now made easier, thanks to the World Trade Organisation.

India and other developing countries will continue to oppose and seek amendments to the WTO proposals that prohibit developing countries from following the same policies that developed countries pursued to make their domestic enterprises internationally competitive. But the WTO threats are real. The trick, if one is to survive and prosper, will be to identify emerging threats before they become real and then prepare for them. It will be equally if not more important to learn to spot opportunities before they arise, and take advantage of them. Not for nothing has it been said that success comes to those who, when an opportunity presents itself, is fully prepared to exploit it . Alexander Graham Bell said “When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us” And in business, opportunity may knock but once; it usually does not lean on the doorbell !

This competition from across the border will almost certainly flatten high-cost producers, and perhaps even decimate entire industries, especially in the small-scale sector. India already finds itself in a situation of “jobless growth”. Where will the new jobs for all those youngsters entering the job market come from?

The alternative to entering the job market, for young men and women, is for them to create their own jobs and become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship in India (outside of family-controlled businesses) is largely necessity-based, not opportunity driven. Entrepreneurs in this country have traditionally not been looked up to as role models. It is still widely believed that you cannot become a successful entrepreneur in this country without bending the rules. But this outlook is undergoing changes, and the main reason for this is the recent successes of Indian entrepreneurs in the information technology industry. Their example has fired the imagination of a whole new generation, and entrepreneurship is now considered a more desirable career choice. The Indian IT industry-notably software exports-is the best possible example of ‘entrepreneurship beyond borders’. Drugs and pharmaceuticals is another.

The comparable advantage of developing countries will expand beyond low labour costs. This trend is a clear warning to those who are basking in the comforts of what now appears to be a perennial demand for their products and services. If industry is so complacent and not anxious where is the opportunity for innovation ?

Entrepreneurship is truly going to be the most important driver for economic growth. The entrepreneurial attributes are constantly under test in the wake of the emerging threats from severe international competition.

Necessity is the mother of invention. In fact these threats provide immense possibilities for our businesses to innovate. Innovation is the key to a country’s ability to participate and reap the emerging benefits of globalisation. A country that fosters innovation and supports entrepreneurs will emerge as the strongest in the future.

More Indians need to emulate the early pioneers and move towards opportunity-driven entrepreneurship. In jump-starting any such process, it would help immensely if those who have already made their mark as entrepreneurs play the role of mentors and incubators to late starters in the entrepreneurial sweepstakes . We have seen this phenomenon in the IT industry, but the mentors and incubators have almost entirely been Indian-Americans with successful businesses in Silicon Valley. More of them from within the country are needed, applying their expertise across a much wider range of industries.

(Published in Business Today October 27, 2002 – By Invitation)The ability to spot opportunities and do business beyond borders is increasingly becoming the defining trend that will separate the entrepreneurial from the rest.

Government de-regulation is opening national borders for commerce.Trading and investing beyond national borders is now commonplace and is either the salvation or the death knell of the Indian economy. We have an enviable domestic market and that in itself is a threat unless domestic enterprises shake themselves out of their hitherto comfort zones and gear themselves up to face the pressures of competition from across the border, now made easier, thanks to the World Trade Organisation.

India and other developing countries will continue to oppose and seek amendments to the WTO proposals that prohibit developing countries from following the same policies that developed countries pursued to make their domestic enterprises internationally competitive. But the WTO threats are real. The trick, if one is to survive and prosper, will be to identify emerging threats before they become real and then prepare for them. It will be equally if not more important to learn to spot opportunities before they arise, and take advantage of them. Not for nothing has it been said that success comes to those who, when an opportunity presents itself, is fully prepared to exploit it . Alexander Graham Bell said “When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us” And in business, opportunity may knock but once; it usually does not lean on the doorbell !

This competition from across the border will almost certainly flatten high-cost producers, and perhaps even decimate entire industries, especially in the small-scale sector. India already finds itself in a situation of “jobless growth”. Where will the new jobs for all those youngsters entering the job market come from?

The alternative to entering the job market, for young men and women, is for them to create their own jobs and become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship in India (outside of family-controlled businesses) is largely necessity-based, not opportunity driven. Entrepreneurs in this country have traditionally not been looked up to as role models. It is still widely believed that you cannot become a successful entrepreneur in this country without bending the rules. But this outlook is undergoing changes, and the main reason for this is the recent successes of Indian entrepreneurs in the information technology industry. Their example has fired the imagination of a whole new generation, and entrepreneurship is now considered a more desirable career choice. The Indian IT industry-notably software exports-is the best possible example of ‘entrepreneurship beyond borders’. Drugs and pharmaceuticals is another.

The comparable advantage of developing countries will expand beyond low labour costs. This trend is a clear warning to those who are basking in the comforts of what now appears to be a perennial demand for their products and services. If industry is so complacent and not anxious where is the opportunity for innovation ?

Entrepreneurship is truly going to be the most important driver for economic growth. The entrepreneurial attributes are constantly under test in the wake of the emerging threats from severe international competition.

Necessity is the mother of invention. In fact these threats provide immense possibilities for our businesses to innovate. Innovation is the key to a country’s ability to participate and reap the emerging benefits of globalisation. A country that fosters innovation and supports entrepreneurs will emerge as the strongest in the future.

More Indians need to emulate the early pioneers and move towards opportunity-driven entrepreneurship. In jump-starting any such process, it would help immensely if those who have already made their mark as entrepreneurs play the role of mentors and incubators to late starters in the entrepreneurial sweepstakes . We have seen this phenomenon in the IT industry, but the mentors and incubators have almost entirely been Indian-Americans with successful businesses in Silicon Valley. More of them from within the country are needed, applying their expertise across a much wider range of industries.

(Published in Business Today October 27, 2002 – By Invitation)

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