Monday, January 26, 2015

Profreneur – a way out of Pink slips

IT industry in India seems to have seen its peak. Sluggish American and European economies leave shrinking discretionary spend, compelling changing ways to do more for less. Recent trend show higher adaptation of productized solutions against green field development projects of the past. Domain and technology consulting is expected from the vendors as part of solutions approach unlike resource approach Indian services were sourced earlier. Offshoring is also moving to near shore and onshore with advent of patriotism over capitalism.

The impact is loss of IT jobs also in India. Nobody ever heard TCS, largest Indian IT Company, to fire its employees in hoard ever and raised an eyebrow when it announced to shed about 30000 people or about 10% of its workforce. Other organizations are also “Juniorizing” – a term used to replace their experienced employee to make way for relatively younger one to man the same roles. How should an outgoing professional having spent 15 or 20 years of his /her career, now consider this vacuum, given industry has very little appetite for absorption.

Thinking positively, if I could, let me assure you of immense number of opportunities that lies even in this dark stage of your career. You may see a ray of hope in professional entrepreneurship, or Profreneur.

Based on the majority of roles that are sourced from India, professionals losing their jobs in IT have technology, delivery or people management skills. Without sales or marketing skills, many such professionals fear to tread the path of entrepreneurship. The fear is not unfounded but it is possible to circumvent it. Can you look for businesses where pull factor is built-in by design (customers come to you themselves) rather you creating a push strategy, which may be hard. I will discuss some of such possibilities, out of many, just to instigate that such possibilities are many and worth exploring.

First is taking a franchise of an established brand. Brand brings you customer, brand owner helps you co-establish your business during the initial period, during which you get to know the business intricacies. With the experience and technology your forte, improvements can be made. However, this will get you limited success in business and scaling beyond will need selling skills.

In the internet era, establishing an e-shop in the, or marketplaces is the second option. It is extremely easy to set up such a “shop” if you have the compelling products. Such products can be sourced from specialist markets such as brassware from Moradabad, gems from Jaipur, woolen and sports goods from Jalandhar, Spices from south India, or ethnic products from Rajasthan or Gujarat etc. for consumption outside India. As entry barrier in these products is low, so you will find many competing products to fight against. It will require lot of common sense and sales zeal to research competition, reduce costs, efficient operations and right price, to keep afloat. Establishing family / friend contacts abroad will be a definite plus on realization of money on large orders.

Business to consumer (B2C) may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is when you have a concept to sell in consultative mode to your customers in a defined market, even non sales oriented people have been seen to be doing fairly well in the B2B segment. Some solutions lie in emerging needs in India - security, infrastructure, education and energy. It really does not distinguish between digital or brick-and-mortar preposition, so long as you have the perseverance and passion to push it through for nearly a year as cycle time to convert into order is longer.

As we are talking of people in the technology domain, an e-commerce based business venture is definitely on the table as possibility. One need to think passionately, plan big, execute small and think as if to sell it after 3 to 5 years. Success chances are increased when you move around in the VC circle and be part of entrepreneur eco-system fully.

One may argue, it is easier said than done. Well, who said working in a job is easy after all! Give it a fresh and unbiased thought, discuss with many friends whose opinion matter to you and if you so wish, can write to me at to help distill the options you are considering.

All the best for taking the best advantage at this turn in your career.

Ashish Jain

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