Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Make in India - Are the small businesses ready to make the most of it?

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. ~ William Shakespeare
“Make in India” presents an unprecedented opportunity for the small businesses in India to build world class businesses, an opportunity that’s been denied to them for long.  But are they ready to make the most of it? This article briefly explores the Make in India program, the opportunities it presents to the self employed, start-ups and SMEs and what they could do to make the most of it. 
The Need - Why a ‘Make in India’ program
There are 48.8 million small businesses in India which could become the engine for growth, job creation and social change but need a conducive environment to flourish. 
With more than 356 million 10-24 year-olds, India has the world's largest youth population  which in turn means that in the next decade India will need upwards of 11.5 million non-farm jobs to employ them gainfully. 
Despite significant improvements over the last two years (with good help from falling oil prices), the Current Account Deficit remains at 1.4% of the GDP. This needs a simultaneous push for export and a reduction in dependence on imports.
The programme having the vision to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub, is a call to action to all the government agencies to work in a concerted way to create the hard, soft and policy infrastructure to make India one of the top destinations for doing business. With the promise of delivering jobs, economic growth and expanded social benefits in return.
An Invitation to Participate and Gain
Make in India is an invitation to Start-ups and entrepreneurs to think of making things in India, it is an invitation to businesses to make in India for India and it is an invitation to international industries to make in India for India and for the world. 
The program highlights the 3Ds (Democracy, Demography and Demand) as the inherent advantages for the country as a business destination, and promises to turn around its lethargic business environment into a responsive and vibrant one through investments in infrastructure and policy reforms.
The government is also taking the lead as a demand generator with -  Defense Production, Railways, and Solar Power chosen as the thrust areas, for their huge social, environmental, economic and geo-political impact. While development of railways and solar power would reduce the demand and dependency on oil imports, defense production, electronic manufacturing would reduce the skew in the trade with some key partner countries. 
Also included under the program are - Aerospace, Automobiles and Auto Components, Construction Equipment, IT & Electronic Manufacturing, Textiles, Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Food Processing etc. that would find ready markets in India. 
These initiatives have the potential to spin-off hundreds of thousands of business opportunities both in the domestic and export markets for businesses of every size.
The opportunities for the smaller businesses will come in the form of participation in the creation and maintenance of the infrastructure, as supply chain participants, in support services (such as logistics, transport, hospitality, food, housing etc.), human resource development and in many more ways than one can imagine now.
How Can the SMEs make the most of this opportunity
So what can the SMEs do to make the most of these opportunities? Here are some quick suggestions. 
Looking Out - There will be much happening under this program and it is important that small businesses are in touch with the opportunities opening up. Following key twitter handles, social media pages, growing your professional network through sites like Linkedin and following websites dedicated to information around the Make in India program is extremely important. Unfortunately, the mainstream media carries little of this information; fortunately the current government is actively using the social media and other digital channels to disseminating information.  
Engaging with the Eco-System - becoming part of multiple industry associations and participating in the programs, trade shows and online forums would help not just for accelerated learning but also to keep abreast with the developments, help find partners, talent and ways to pool resources to take advantage of upcoming opportunities.  
Both the government agencies and industry associations are engaging actively to respond to the needs of the industry under the program.
Building Capability & Capacity - taking up the internal planning and organisational development, with a 5 to 10 years perspective, to ready the business for upcoming opportunities, is necessary to build the capacity & capability to take advantage of the emerging opportunities. Key amongst them is the adoption of methods & technology platforms to support world class quality and scale in one’s area of work. It is also important that Start-Ups & SMEs are aware of all the resources, platforms & programs that are being created by the government and industry associations in this regard and take benefit from them.
Gaining through Collaboration - bringing the team together for quicker response to emerging opportunities (and challenges) is critical to the survival and growth of any enterprise. Technology can help here - a scalable, secure and well designed collaboration platform can help in
  1. bringing the team together improving the speed and quality of its response
  2. collaborating more efficiently with customers and partners and most importantly, 
  3. managing exception at work (opportunities and challenges that falls outside business as usual), because for the enterprise that seeks to make the most of the emerging opportunity it is going to be anything but business as usual.
Creating and Managing an Opportunity Portfolio  - creating and managing the a portfolio of opportunity one’s business is pursuing and not letting it run ahead of the internal capacity creation is necessary to avoid overextending the business in pursuit of growth. Building and maintaining a Capability versus Opportunity matrix could be a very useful decision making tool in such a dynamic environment. A calibrated engagement with the emerging opportunities can considerably reduce the risk for the small enterprise.
In summary the government seems committed to creating a more supportive environment for business. Start-ups & SMEs on their part need to be active in taking advantage of these initiatives; find time to building linkages with the eco-system and invest in building distinguished capabilities, to be gainful participants in this new business environment.
Do share your feedback, ideas, suggestions and experiences.

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