History has been written. Narendra Modi has led BJP right into the Indian Parliament; this time as a ruling party with a clear cut majority.
I analysed what lessons startups can learn from his way of doing things. Here are eight steps to learn from Narendra Modi’s way to grow your startup business into a great company.
Step 1) Know the pain existing in the market.
Every idea begins with a problem it is trying to solve. In India’s case, it was the poor governance, corruption, and slow development. People had had enough of it. Rising unemployment and red-tapism had sapped people’s energy and drained their money. Big-companies didn’t want to move here due to political instability and the government dragging its feet on crucial issues. Anna’s movement has already shown Indians the true face of the government. Narendra Modi has crafted all his promotional pitches and activities around these problems and promised people to deliver solutions for them.
Take away: “Have deep understanding of your market, understand the problems and craft your product/service according to it.”
Step 2) Set up credibility
Building a great company is a marathon, not a sprint. Many founders try to scale the untested solution, even when the processes and plans are not at place. The best approach for scaling is building credibility in the existing market; it may be small, but it matters. People will recognise you by what you have already done, and then only listen to you. Modi already has set a great example of planned governance in Gujarat, the star state of India. He has a long record of being a volunteer in different activities, since his childhood. The RSS also helped him in building a strong image.
He also was a star performer in the eyes of industrialists due to his development record Gujarat thus big corporate houses backed his funding. The paid promotion came afterwards.
Take away: “Start small, but start now. May be your initial footprint will be smaller but it will help you understand the market well, and will set up your credibility in the next markets, a been there and done it approach.”
Step 3) Assemble a great team
A company is an abstraction of a people working together. The team behind Modi’s win deserves an equal appreciation. The BJP has made a great team, including experienced leaders like Rajnath Singh, Dr.Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, and Arun Jaitley to name a few. They all were assigned specific roles, where they gave their best. All were engaged in multiple rallies, meeting round the clock and didn’t rest even after the last turn of polls. All the candidates of the party played their roles in getting the 272 (majority) mark.
Take-away: “A team can make or break a company because the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The first step to business is selling your dream to your team, if they aren’t convinced, your customers definitely will not.”
Step 4) Be the Face
We mark Virgin Group by Sir Richard Branson, Facebook by Mark ZuckerBurg and so on. Be the face for your startup, and represent it to the public at large. While the Congress party did not declare any PM candidate, people had already guessed who it would be. Being bold matters, the first step the BJP did was to choose a PM candidate. It was a tense period for the party, and most of the times we try to avoid such situations. But the BJP took it boldly and made Narendra Modi the face of BJP for 2014 general election although it resulted in internet conflicts, and Nitish Kumar withdrawing his support. We all now know how important and powerful the decision was.
Take-away: “Be a leader, or find someone, have a uniform tone, take the ultimate responsibility, be the face for people; people are interested in stories.”
Step 5) Start Early
Don’t wait for the perfect climate, just go and break things. The BJP had started its election campaigns long ago, Modi appeared in numerous places giving speeches about his dreams for India and Indians. He started using social media as early as 2009, which gave him a clear cut advantage in later stages. When you start early, you learn a lot in the go, the stakes are small. Mark started Facebook within a month of getting the idea. The first version was crappy, but what it is today is definitely a revolution.
Take-away: “Start from where you are; don’t wait. The perfect climate is an imaginary event.”
Step 6) Utilize all media
“Abki Baar Modi Sarkaar.” This slogan has reached every nook and corner of the country. Modi utilized all channels for marketing, whether they were internet based like content creation, tweets, social media, you tube videos etc. or paid like newspaper, TV ads (even in cricket world-cup, the famous 20 second ads), distributing merchandise to local people and business, and reaching them via non-traditional methods like ‘Chai pe charcha’.
Take away: “Find all the media channels you can to promote your startup, meet more people, choose free marketing channels in the beginning, and remember No Press is bad press.”
Step 7) Develop Evangelists not just Supporters
I am sure your Facebook wall and twitter feed are filled by posts from Modi fans in the past one year. Create a brand people love to share, create a viral loop, the ultimate goal of a marketer is to send his message beyond his first set of audience. Modi successfully did it; his messages were floated all around social media in no time. All his supporters praised his views and ideas, and shared them with their peers. It made sure that if Modi could not directly reach so many people, his message was sent to them via his supporters.
Take-away: “Build a brand people want to talk about, you can also artificially inject viral loop in your product/service (remember Dropbox’s famous referral program?)”
Step 8) Be an Executer
This is the key. No matter how great you plan is, how cool your team is, everything will go down the drain if you aren’t a good executer. Each and every thing in BJP’s election campaign was well planned in advance. They had employed different in-house and external agencies for maintaining the campaign. Modi himself did many rallies on a single day, at the age which is set as a date of retirement by our government. He appeared in TV interviews, and yes everything appeared planned, and was executed well on time. The operations are the core of any business and should be taken care with the ultimate responsibility. Jeff Bezos planned and executed Amazon in Indian market so well that it has started capturing major market share within a year of its launch in India.
Take-away: “No one remembers a great marketing plan which never crossed the boundaries of a paper or a board room, you have to come out and execute, may be you will fail, but you will learn to grow.”
About the Author :
Ankit is a 21 year old Student-Entrepreneur from Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management (IIITM), Gwalior. You can get in touch with him here.