running a business in chaos

A lot of people ask me, how and why do you run a business amidst the chaos in Nepal ?

I don’t know how to answer this directly. So here I am organizing my own thoughts to see if it makes any sense to you.

a)I temper (lower) my expectations. (if it takes 1 year else-where, it might take 5 years here).

b)I take regular breaks from work.(re-charge my batteries, go trekking,get in touch with our basics).

c)I regularly leave my businesses in the hands of capable lieutenants (delegate-empower-partner)

d) I stopped trying to change people and started accepting people for who they are. (hard for entrepreneurs to come to terms with, but has been a valuable lesson to me, concentrate on the positive – there is too much negative in Nepal to bring you down).

e) I try create environments that induces people to change themselves. (Extremely hard, but is the only way to go, if you seek to bring sustainable change – a big gamble).

f) I only stay close to relatives who are progressive and support my ‘entrepreneurship’. I run away from “Nepal sucks” relatives. I stay away from “Yestai ho” ones (those who believe in status quo).

g) I share my knowledge and experiences. It helps bring a sense of purpose in this chaos. It helps my confidence and heart, realizing I am building a ladder for the next group to rise high.

h) I convince myself of the importance of keep running a business, no matter what the future looks like. ( something along the lines of “It is the journey that is important, not just the destination.)

i) I regularly network with like-minded people through organizations like Entrepreneurs for Nepal. Its good to be in a club where most people think like you on entrepreneurship, innovation and the itch to excel.

j) I let my ego believe that “Entrepreneurs are Rambos, fight a lonely war against evil, parasites”. Pride helps you get through insane scenarios in Kathmandu, where most job holders in NGO and INGOs seem to earn better than most start up entrepreneurs.

k) I believe running a business in Nepal and creating jobs is “social entrepreneurship, In a country where there is insane amount of un-employed youths lying around, in fact I believe running a business in an entrepreneurial way is the patriotic thing to do as a Nepali.

l)  I believe, running a business in Nepal, qualifies you for an automatic MBA and more. You gather wealthy knowledge in  conflict resolution, administration, management, marketing, competition, negotiation, stress management, networking etc, in as short a time as possible.

m) Small success in Nepal, create more immediate impact here. Fame can be just around the corner. A chance to become big fish in a small pond ?

n) At times, I can afford to be lazy without lying to anybody or worrying 🙂

o) Even if you fail, you succeed. I believe, there is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur. If you are an entrepreneur in Nepal, you are always learning and being prepared for the next challenge, (which are plenty in Nepal).


and some great advice comments from my facebook friends here

Julie West adds –

(Entrepreneurs) cultivate the ability to be politely, respectfully, doggedly persistent.

From Kesang Sherpa

Hi Ujwal, nice easy to read piece: I would like to add:

– Good time to go back to the drawing board. Don’t be afraid to make changes – remember “change is the only thing that is constant.” Scale back if you need to; don’t let your ego get in the way. It could prove costly. On the other hand, if it’s a good time to start up or expand your business, don’t be afraid to do that either. There can be opportunity in chaos. But be ethical.

– Even when one feels the rug is being pulled out from under one’s feet, remember that chaos can be fun, be prepared for lots of creative problem solving and never before imagined challenges – which there are anyways plenty of in Nepal even during “un-chaotic” times.

– Change your perspective. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Some semblance of order might emerge in the chaos. Take a bird’s eye view and always try and be bigger than the situation.

– Always try and be prepared in advance as much as possible. Stay informed, stay alert. For every problem you foresee, find a solution as quickly as possible.

– Listen to everyone’s opinions but make your own decisions based on what’s good for you and your company.

– Take time to take care of your health – go for that doctor’s checkup you’ve always been meaning to go for but never did or join the gym or take up a fitness activity. After all “health is wealth” and one needs to be physically and mentally healthy to tide over chaotic times.

– Good time to actually go back to school, add to your Nepali street cred?

– For every complaint about Nepal that comes into your mind, think of something good or make a list of changes you would like to see implemented in your lifetime.

– Don’t panic. Be kind. Be patient. Keep your cool.

– Stay positive. Anything is possible, just make it happen!

-It is very important to have a good support network of friends, family, colleagues, mentors…

-If you have the resources, go outside Nepal every so often even to nearby India, Thailand or China. It’ll make you less complacent (satisfied) about the way things are in Nepal. You’ll stop saying “yestai ho” and start saying “yesto hunu sakcha or yesto hunu parcha”. And it’ll make you appreciate Nepal a little bit more for the good things it has going for it. But stay original, be inspired but try and not simply copy-paste from your neighbors. 1 size does not fit all.

– Try and distance yourself from work/stress, even if it’s a short break from your desk or a holiday. Take a quick weekend break or a longer retreat inside or outside Nepal. I go on breaks and retreats as much as possible. It not only helps clear your head but solutions and new ideas will come to you.

– Don’t waste TOO much time attending too many networking groups and cocktail parties. Make sure it doesn’t become a dreadful habit and that you’re not in it for the free booze or the photo op. Focus on doing not talking and talking and posing.

– Don’t watch too much TV and especially don’t watch too many Nepali news related programs everyday. It’s akin to a complex tele-serial with a cast of ever growing characters and never ending plots and sub-plots which you can become sucked into like a Nepali housewife watching her favorite Indian soap opera. I only follow the headlines, but don’t get too caught up in the daily drama of who, what, where. I switch on and switch off. I think people in Nepal waste too much time talking politics everyday especially when it’s just talk and not action-oriented. That’s precious, productive time wasted that’s not producing ay result. Watch or read the headlines, gather information and analyze for yourself.

– Use this time to catch up on reading. Start your own little library at home.

– Listen to music everyday. I find soothing, relaxing music is the best for me but it’s a free world so take your own pick!

4 thoughts on “running a business in chaos

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