On the first episode in a series of three, we heard from industry bigwigs NR Narayana Murthy and Kishore Biyani about the challenges of setting up businesses and the philosophies that help them thrive.


The success of India’s small and medium businesses (SMBs) is at the heart of realizing India's dream of becoming a five trillion dollar economy. This was the assertion that lay at the core of Amazon SMBhav, a mega-summit held at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi under the aegis of global marketplace Amazon. Smbhav brought together more than 3600 micro, small, and medium business owners to engage in an open, constructive dialogue with their peers, industry and subject matter experts, and policy agents.


The stakeholders explored the challenges small and medium businesses face, the solutions technology has to offer, the opportunities eCommerce presents, and prevalent as well as foreseeable trends in global trade. The conference highlighted the infinite possibilities there are for small and medium businesses in the country to scale sustainably – all with the background of the aptly chosen infinity symbol.


The attendees also got to hear from the biggest names in thought leadership, including Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, NR Narayana Murthy – Founder of Infosys, Kishore Biyani of the Future Group, to name just a few. The first episode of the series on Amazon Smbhav telecast on CNN-News18 captured these moments and more.


In his keynote speech, NR Narayana Murthy advised SMBs to practice discipline, hard work, good work ethics and good values. Sharing insights from his own experiences with Infosys, he said SMBs will play an “extremely important role” in taking India’s economy to the $5 trillion mark because they contribute 10% of the country’s business output. “To do that,” Murthy said, “you have to create a differentiated business value proposition...better than any of your competitors. That is going to come because of innovation.” He emphasized the importance of hiring the best quality people, putting together teams with collectively exhaustive but mutually exclusive skill sets, and embracing durable value systems. Advocating a durable value system as the bedrock of any successful company, and therefore a more thriving economy, Murthy advised a bottom-up approach to building institutions: “Always ask, will what I am doing make this a better place for all of us?”


Another major highlight of Amazon Smbhav was Kishore Biyani’s fireside chat with Gopal Pillai, Vice President, Seller Services Amazon India. Biyani spoke with refreshing candor, recalling, “I started by supplying fabric to the garment industry. It was a journey of learning.” Recognising India’s heteregeneous markets was the first challenge he went about addressing by setting up offices in the four zones in the country.


He added, “We decentralized on day one, and that helped us understand the nuances of each market.” Advising the audience to not take failures personally, he explained, “Today, failure doesn’t disappoint us because that’s the customer saying ‘you’ve not done well.’ Change yourself, or change the product.”


He also encouraged SMBs to embrace challenges, saying, “Every challenge will teach you something. We need to introspect what this thing is teaching us, and how we apply that in our journey.” Emphasising Mr. Bezos’s sentiment earlier in the day, he said to the audience, “India is a land of opportunities,” and that the 20 crore people involved in the SME sector the most important component of India’s five trillion dollar dream.


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