“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
A lot of us might believe in the above mentioned quote, but many others would just be least bothered, and be okay with the way life throws things at us. There could be many ways of looking at change, but the most prominent ways would either be to stay prepared by predicting the upcoming changes depending on the past and current trends or to not be bothered and simply deal with it as and when it occurs. Talking about the current situation where we witness constant change and transformation, we wanted to know how SMEs are preparing for the change. As a part of our series, Business Beyond 2020 we are continuously interacting with many SME, SMB and MSME Associations leaders pan India.
In this edition, we got the opportunity to speak with Mr. A.N. Sujeesh, President of AIEMA (Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers' Association), Mr. A.N. Gireeshan, General Secretary, General Administration, AIEMA, and Mr. Vijay Kumar Makal, Secretary, PIA (Peenya Industries Association). When asked about the biggest bottleneck for the micro, small and medium businesses, all the three leaders feel that ‘reluctance to change’ is the major challenge that’s hindering the sector from realising and meeting its true potential.
The President of AIEMA, Mr. Sujeesh says, “One thing everyone must realise is that change is permanent and one has to go out of their comfort zone which is a very reluctant move among SME entrepreneurs. They have certain comfort zones and established practices which they don’t want to tinker around with. Any new idea is killed across all organisations, especially the ones that have around 10-15 years of existence. So, anybody who wants to bring in a change faces a lot of challenges. As far as productivity increment and other things are concerned, there’s a lot of resistance from the people who are working as well, which leads to a totally different kind of turn. The SME sector is caught up with many issues hence they are unable to concentrate on where they need to focus.”
“There are both kinds of people across all industries. While there are a few who are forward looking and put an effort to make a contingency plan, but there are some who are laid back and think that nothing will even happen to them. Today, the product that we assume will be required for decades can actually be replaced the very next year and that’s not in our hands. Therefore, one should be prepared and have some contingency plans,” further adds Mr. A.N. Gireeshan, Secretary, AIEMA.
In support of the context set by the leaders of AIEMA, Mr. Vijay Kumar Makal, the Secretary of PIA says, “industries are now heading towards recession. If anything goes wrong in the market, large scale industries and MNCs will survive because they have contingency plans; they make provision to overcome such tide. But in SMEs, they don’t make any provision because most of them are not visionaries, and they don’t even have forward thinking attitude. Under such situation of recession, most vulnerable and worst affected are the SMEs.”
Predicting the way forward for MSMEs and SMEs
“A lot of industries like the automotive and real estate have been worst hit by the recent policies created by the government. But by April – May 2020, we are hoping to see brighter months and year ahead and we also hope that the industrial production will increase and flourish,” says Mr. Vijay Kumar Makal.
On the other hand, Mr. A.N. Sujeesh says, “the kind of ongoing shift across industries is unimaginable and nobody would have thought that these kinds of things are really possible. The way they are coming and hitting us is really fast. But, come what may, we have to adapt to the change.”
As a single piece of advice, the leaders of AIEMA and PIA ask the MSME and SME owners and the associated members to adapt to the change while having contingency plans, and get exposed to the digitalised world to reap the maximum benefit of the data available to them.