Last week I visited the Norbuling Rigter College in Paro – accompanying a group of American businessmen who were touring Bhutan as a part of the Abroad Inc – a US-based executive education company.
While they interacted with the students, I also shared few observations plaguing our business sector. Here is an excerpt from the interactions.
1. Reinvent the Wheel – Many people ask me to suggest new business ideas while others seek my opinions on theirs. My take on this is that there is no need to absolutely invent a new product or service. In fact it is not even a good idea to start something new in Bhutan. We are not a nation of early adopters. So you can pick an old one and work on it and make it better. That’s called innovation. You can reinvent the wheel. For example, how can you improve the taxi service in Bhutan? Can you take over the water supply system in Thimphu from City Corporation? Can you do better ezays and pizzas? And so on and so forth. Look at existing businesses and see if you can do better. Actually you can, because currently our services and business outlets are really bad. Momo has not evolved since 1970s. You, as younger mind and better educated, can do better.
2. Commitment – I do lots of carpentry as hobby and for the last twenty years I have been visiting saw mills to buy sawn timbers. They would tell me to return after few hours. I drop the list of my requirements but I have no memory of any saw mill delivering anything on time. Likewise, recently it took me five reminder visits to a tailor to get two ghos stiched. Be it in the government offices or a business house, keeping commitment is a major difficulty in Bhutan. Can you keep your commitments? Can you be trusted? Can you keep your words? Can you deliver on your promises at all cost or whatever happens? If you can’t commit, nothing will work for you in your life – lesser still in business.
3. Value-added services. One dream of every Bhutanese is to earn without working. So being a middleman, receiving commissions or fronting businesses without lifting a finger are very popular. The other month I was driving up from Gedu and I came across many trucks with semi-finished wood products or potatoes going to India. I know there across the border, they work on the value-adding the products and sell them back to us at triple the price. We idiotically buy our own products that we could have done ourselves in the first place. Can you be less lazy and do the value addition here? Can you create jobs?
Having great idea is not enough but you should honour your commitments, innovate continously and stay ahead in your game. Then may be you can achieve some success in your businesses.