Entrepreneurship cannot be learnt or inherited. The great way to learn entrepreneurship is in the hard knock of real world, according to N. Sankar, Chairman, of the Chennai based Sanmar Group. In his keynote, after receiving the lifetime achievement award at TiECON Chennai 2010, Mr. Sankar put forth four essentials of entrepreneurship: identification, organisation, management and sustenance. According to him entrepreneurship will not work if fun element goes out of it.

Chennai is known for business houses that firmly stand on values and principles. Family-owned businesses have transcended generations and have gone on to become giants. It is a tradition in the family where fathers pass the baton to their sons or daughters and they in turn carrying the torch with the same underlying values and vision with which the companies were founded maybe hundred years ago. Mr. Sankar, who represents the true tradition of Chennai’s family-owned businesses with entrepreneurship and risk-taking ability, sees entrepreneurship is about that ability to see the beyond and willingness to put one’s foot where the outcome may be uncertain.

Identification

An entrepreneur first has to identify by some means, the activities that he will take up in his business with the expectation of profits. He then has to organise the resources that the activity will require — men, money, machinery or whatever else. Having set up the business, one has to manage it efficiently. And finally, as the risk taker, apart from enjoying the wealth that he creates he will have to sustain its continuing need for the different resources, as it hopefully expands and grows.

Quoting from Sanmar Group’s vision of environmental consciousness that goes beyond regulatory compliance, Mr. Sankar said liquid effluent discharge is zero from Sanmar’s chemical business. An organization should be founded on values.

Management

There is no one answer to management. Attracting and retaining right people and giving people the right environment to work with are key. Sanmar Group has a list of do’s and don’ts that is integrated with its vision of integrity and excellence. Mr. Sankar said that employees who have worked with Sanmar and who have even left the company have said that in Sanmar, you can work without compromising your conscience.

Sustenance

Sustaining the continuing need of the business as the business grows.

This part is a difficult one. Again, from Sanmar’s experience of running the long marathon, Mr. Sankar said Sanmar’s guiding principles is the secret for its success. Sanmar follows conservative but clear accounting practices and all its managers are given free hand for decision-making. “Management is nothing but common sense,” he said. Once a manager has made a decision based on sound logic, he is not blamed if the decision bears unfavorable results at Sanmar.

Mr. Sankar said that India is a paradise of entrepreneurship and asked entrepreneurs to thank their stars for they are in India.

Finally, entrepreneurship is all about ability, vision, staying power, and that indescribable something like divine grace or luck, whatever you call it.

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