Why you need to believe in Communism to be a good Capitalist.
Mr. Jayaprakash runs a phenomenally successful modular kitchen store in Trivandrum. An unassuming gentle soul who could pass of as a postmaster you see in any small town. He runs his highly profitable store with apparently a profit margin that exceeds 25% on a turnover of around 15 crores($220K) from his modest 850 sq.ft empire.
JP is a simple man, with a large heart and an astute business sensibility. At the heart of his success lies his fanatic customer centricity, driven with a zealous purpose. Beneath his calm composure and humble demeanor lies a revolutionary, who he believes is fighting for the right of his customers; their right to make the correct choices; their right to get value for what they pay for; and their right to deserve something that makes their lives better. And his enemy is the big corporation and the unorganized local marketer who he believes operate from a self centered perspective of pushing products, without much understanding of their customers.
He had the zeal of a communist who was fighting against the bourgeois zamindars to secure the rights of his comrades!
JP starts by understanding his customers pain points. He spends a lot of time observing and chatting with his customers. It’s a day long affair, where he understands how the lady operates her kitchen — what is the right height that makes her comfortable, Is she right or left handed, what are the appliances she uses the most, what’s the role of husband in the kitchen etc. This is followed by a customized solution that suits their need and budget with a lifetime guarantee.. All which comes at a 30% premium and he has customers vouching for his brand.
This purpose has nurtured a highly committed, professionally run organization with a competence that large corporations will find difficult to compete with. Naturally the big corporations ally with him. It is a powerful position from where he influences them to become more customer centric .
Every person who joins this place transforms to a more sensitive and competent professional, in stark contrast to the state`s work shirking stereotype. JP has imbibed in them an identity of a crusader than a salesperson.
This is not the first time I have come across entrepreneurs like this from Kerala — Shanta Paint House, Wonderla, Tierra foods etc. all of them radiate a similar philosophy. What explains this?
Marinated in a communist milieu, the mindless pursuit of money is not admired, respected or considered meaningful. This often prevents people to take up business or become successful businessmen. However, there is this group of people who have used exactly this same philosophy of not pursuing this mindless quest for money, to actually fuel powerful business. In their minds their business is not just another business. It is a community service!
By conducting business in an enlightened way that helps all stakeholders, they become a respected force within the society. More importantly it assuages the guilt of making money.
This approach is very different from a typical business, which first starts with the purpose of making money, and later on is forced to do the right things due to competitive pressures or social forces, which nudges them to become good citizens. Both may have similar results, however the starting points differ dramatically.
Does this mean that practicing conscious capitalism comes easy to a society whose foundation has been in the socialist/communist ideology? Or is it individual centric? Are the JPs of the world created differently?
A world that sees either Capitalism or Communism in their darkest, most extreme forms is inherently limited. When capitalism borrows a community-centered, ground up approach from communism, it simply makes for better outcomes. It makes for entities that are more sustainable and maximizing shareholder wealth is not the only concern. Being responsible for the people it serves and the community it operates in is equally important. This could be the most important ingredient to generate sustained profits and be continually relevant.
JP travels the world scouring for best practices to improve his business while he continues to stay in his 650 sq.ft home. He is the community leader who sees business as a privilege and responsibility bestowed on him to serve the people.