From Challenges To Strength

by Aneesha Gaba

Listed as one of India’s most powerful women in business and a ‘Tycoon of Tomorrow’, Ameera Shah scaled her father’s nascent healthcare service, Metropolis Healthcare to become an important healthcare player with a multinational status. Along the way she won several battles and learnt important lessons. At the Empower Enclave 2019, she shared the mistake and lessons she learnt on her journey, from starting up to scaling up.

The character of the entrepreneur
“The company, especially start-ups, are a splitting image mirror image of you, the entrepreneur.” According to Ameera, if you as an entrepreneur are risk-averse then the company will be risk-averse, if you are not organized, the business will not be organized. So it is important to work on yourself as an entrepreneur parallel to building the business, find your weakness and make them stronger and do the same for the company.

Invest in the basics like technology and the right quality of people

“When you don’t invest in the basic fundamentals at an early stage, and you do them when the company is larger and much more mature, it’s literally like fixing a plane while flying it. It’s very hard to do,” says Ameera. Her solution: Use the initial capital to hire the correct people and put the technological base in place. It’s these fundamentals that can strengthen the growth of the company and makes scaling up an easier process.

Being an opportunist too early

This might seem like a risk-averse strategy but Ameera has a sound reasoning for it. The simpler you keep your business, in terms of inventory and geographical locations, the easier it is to scale in the early stages. “You want to build a moat around your home market—make it so strong that you become the dominant player in that one segment or geographical location. It’s then you will have the time and ability to go to other markets and segments without wondering if someone is going to create issues for you in your home market.”

Work in clutters

Following in the footsteps of the previous lesson, this one is but natural.  “Think of your HQ as your heart, and you want to stay as close to it as possible. Build circles around it. If your headquarters in is Mumbai and your market is Delhi, it doesn’t work. Building anything remote doesn’t work,” she advices.

Raise capital when the time is good

Business 101 right? It may be, but it’s something that entrepreneurs often get wrong according to Ameera. “In the worst times it’s not a successful entrepreneur or business who succeeds, it’s a well capitalized business and entrepreneur who succeeds and thrives. In the bad times you want to make sure that you haven’t put yourself in such a tight corner that you have no options. We want to think ahead and in the good times plan for the bad times. Capitalize yourself enough that you have buffers in place, so not to be at wits end when things go wrong and you are stretched so thin that you have to leverage everything that you have or have to shut down business.”