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Growth through Professionalism

Entrepreneurs should allow professionals to implement the vision-mission statement that they have propounded, and encourage the pursuit of value over profit, says Anil S Mathur, COO-Godrej Interio

When we speak of achieving growth through professionalism, it becomes all the more critical that we understand what professionalism means. The dictionary says that ‘professionalism’, a noun, means ‘competence or skill expected of a professional’ or ‘practising of an activity by a professional rather than an amateur’.

A professional would mean a person engaged or qualified in a profession, or competent or skilled in a particular activity. An entrepreneur, on the other hand, would be a person who sets up a business and takes financial risks in the hope of profit. In the business context, the entrepreneur, by virtue of his spirit, what we call entrepreneurial spirit, works towards profit creation while a professional makes use of professional skill towards delivering value. The objective of an entrepreneur is to earn money and grow the business, whereas the professional’s aim is value creation rather than mere profit generation. Herein lies the subtle difference between the two.

To my mind, when the creation and delivery of value are done consistently, it is called professionalism. In other words, it is not the job you do, but how you do the job.

Look at businesses around you. An entrepreneur starts with a core idea. With time the core idea gets surrounded by a spectrum of things – sourcing, delivery, sales, channel, warehouse, manufacturing, finance, stocks, advertisement, etc. As the business grows, it becomes difficult for the entrepreneur to manage all by himself and hence, the need for professionals arises. In the initial phase, all that the entrepreneur sees is the ‘star’ and starts working towards achieving it, and this results in growth. Gradually he hits a glass ceiling.

Also read: Taking The Big Leap

This happens because business growth becomes unorganised owing to the lack of organisational structure, vision, etc. In the absence of vision and goals, the entrepreneur is bound to hit a glass ceiling. So, either he must prepare to go past the ceiling, or should live in the myth that growth will continue, as has been happening.


Going Beyond the Glass Ceiling

Guidelines for entrepreneurs

  • Set the vision, mission and values
  • Place qualified people at the right place
  • Differentiate competency from blind loyalty
  • Inspire and energise

In the former case, what should be done to go beyond the glass ceiling? First, the entrepreneur should define the vision, mission and values for his enterprise. Else, in all likelihood, he will be lost and will be running after incremental revenue. These pillars – vision, mission, values – are essential to help recruit professionals, so that they clearly understand what the promoters want from them. Without vision, the professionals, too, will be lost. The entrepreneur has to set a vision for self and the organisation; if vision, mission, values, organisational culture are not defined, the professionals will take uncharted paths.

The next goal is putting the right people in the right place. The question that must be addressed here is – is loyalty more important or competency? Simply put, do you want people with blind loyalty? The commitment of saying ‘yes sir’ to everything is not professionalism; loyalty must be towards the organisation, while integrity towards customers is shown by giving them the right products and solutions.

If the business has to grow, the organisation should have people who can implement the vision statement through processes. The promoters, on their part, should inspire and engage and not interfere.


Anil S Mathur was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award 2019 at the India Kitchen Congress.

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