There are several factors that one needs to remember while setting up and leading a business. Successful businesspersons have certain traits in common such as clarity of thought, perseverance, strategic thinking, good communication skills, and valuing efficiency, amongst others. All of these lessons can be learnt through a quick read of the Indian Epic – Ramayana. Here are some of them:
1. Maintain your composure in all situations.
Even after being ordered to live a 14 year long period in forests from the palace of Ayodhya, Lord Rama did not let anger conquer him. He maintained his calm. In the course of business life, many such situations arise which can only be solved using a calm demeanour. As goes the Sanskrit term, elaborated in Bhagawat Gita, for it – by remaining ‘Sthitapragnya’.
2. Miscommunication or communication gap is a sure path for disasters.
The cause of undue enmity between Vali, the king of Kishkindha and his brother Sugriva was sheer miscommunication. The expense of miscommunication is paid in terms of financial as well as human costs. Miscommunication, even in its simplest of forms, can lead to massive resentment. Example- a poorly constructed memo caused massive repercussions for Yahoo, just a few years back.
3. Build strategic relationships that can grow into trustworthy partnerships later on.
As goes the oft used adage, “Your network is your net worth”. Lord Rama made an alliance with Sugriva, who was mistreated by his elder brother Bali. Rama helped Sugriva to regain his kingdom and in return Sugriva promised to employ his army in the search of Sita and to win the war against Ravana. Similarly, building alliances with different partners, be it for marketing or finance or operations or technological insights, or just on a personal level, does pay off in the long run in the form of business expansion.
4. Carefully choosing the heir.
Dasharatha, the ruler of Ayodhya, had originally chosen Rama as his successor. Rama was capable of handling the responsibilities of such a vast empire as he displayed the traits to be an efficient ruler. Thus, it is essential for an entrepreneur to select an appropriate successor who has the capacity to manage and strengthen the existing territory. The fall of one of the most prominent political parties in India is a classic example of what a bad succession can do to even the best of establishments.
5. Never promise what you cannot deliver.
King Dasharatha granted 2 blank promises to his Queen Kaikeyi. She used these promises to send Lord Rama to exile and asked the throne of Ayodhya for her son Bharata. A cautious entrepreneur will never make hollow promises to his/her customers. The dangers of over promising are inconceivable and the dissatisfaction of under delivery can lead to a complete downfall. A prominent example is the massive crash in the valuation of one of the largest cab hailing firms, as it could not live up to its word to its investors.
6. Know and never undermine the capabilities of your opponents.
Ravana was always under the false impression that an army of monkeys cannot fight his mighty army of demons. He misinterpreted their strength, ultimately leading to the downfall of his empire. An entrepreneur should keep a track of their competitor’s prowess. On the same note, an entrepreneur should never look down on enterprises of much smaller scale, lest they become an existential threat to the entrepreneur tomorrow. Example- Android leading to the downfall of Nokia and Blackberry.
7. Do not be surrounded by “Yes-Men”.
Ravana was surrounded by people who always agreed and supported all his decisions. This flattery promoted irrational decisions such as the abduction of Sita. There were some courtiers who were against this but a vast majority was in his support. A leader should pick their team mates sagaciously so that their opinions help to prevent such disasters and aid in formulating efficient policies, regardless of whether their opinions are music to his ears or not, as long as they are backed by proper reasoning.
8. Base your judgements only on concrete facts and not on uninhibited emotions.
When Lakshmana was protecting Sita while Lord Rama caught the deer, Sita gave in to her emotions upon hearing the call for help. This call was actually of the demon Mareecha who had used his sorcery to take the form of a golden deer. Out of her unconditional love for her beloved husband, she compelled Lakshmana to go to him. After Lakshmana had left the hut. Sita was abducted by Ravana. Such uncontrolled emotions can lead to huge losses in a business.
9. Conduct discussions with your team before arriving at a significant conclusion. Give equal importance to everyone’s opinion.
All kings in The Ramayana, King Dasharatha, Rama and Bharata have always consulted their court ministers before taking important decisions. All the firms that have grown into giant companies are known for giving weightage to the opinions, concern, as well as the welfare of their employees and shareholders.
The Ramayana has numerous lessons that are applicable in all realms of life. This epic has left humankind a path to follow on, in order to succeed in any sphere of life, entrepreneurship being one of them.