Friday, September 18, 2020

Teach Entrepreneurship at an Early Age by Dhananjay Mahadev Datar

Once I was having a conversation with my friend at his home over a cup of tea. My friend happened to be an entrepreneur like me. As we were busy discussing the developments in our respective fields, suddenly the school-going son of my friend entered the room. My friend acquainted me with him. The little boy enthusiastically told his father, “Dad, today our school has given us a task. They have provided each student a receipt-book to collect building fund for the upcoming recreational facility.” He then turned to me and politely asked, “Uncle, would you like to donate to our school fund?”

I was about to draw my wallet appreciatively, but just then my friend interrupted in between and angrily commented, “There is no need to go anywhere begging door to door for the donation. I will not tolerate if any of our neighbours insult you. Instead I will pay you the whole amount. You just write any fictitious names you like on all the receipts and hand over the receipt-book and the amount to your class-teacher tomorrow.” The boy left the room with disappointment. My friend turned to me and sarcastically said, “We send our children to schools for learning moral values and they teach their students to beg for funds from society.”

I shook my head in disagreement and asked my friend a simple question, “Do you want your son to be an entrepreneur like you in future and carry forward your legacy?” His reply was affirmative. To which I said, “You are losing a good opportunity to introduce your son to the business world.” My friend seemed puzzled over my remark and asked me the reason. I replied, “Look, you just prevented you son from going outside to collect fund on behalf of his school. What you called begging is in fact a basic exercise of salesmanship. Let your son face people, convince them for donation, read their reactions and learn to improve his marketing. Perhaps some people will talk to him rudely and may insult him, but others will definitely encourage him. Let him gain all sorts of experiences. The first step of any business is smart salesmanship and you are making a mistake by not teaching the kid the art of persuading, convincing and winning the customers.” My friend understood his mistake. Then he called his son and we both donated to his school fund. The child’s face lit up.

Friends, let me humbly tell you that in my childhood, I would sell tamarinds to schoolgirls and housewives. Later in my college years, I would sell phenyl bottles door to door in the suburbs of Mumbai. I have been selling more than 9000 products in the GCC region for the last 36 years. I still remember the first insult in my youth. At the very beginning of my career, someone had insulted me by saying, “Young man, business is not your cup of tea. Go get a job.”

Dhananjay Mahadev DatarBy: Dhananjay Mahadev Datar, CMD, Al Adil Group, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia & India.

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