i love traditional businesses

As a twelve-year-old, I got associated with one. My family has been in the retail clothing business for over three generations.

My ancestors migrated from a small village named Rasheedpur in Punjab (now in Pakistan). They moved after the partition, trying to find a stable livelihood in various cities – Panipat, Hisar, and finally, we settled in Central India, in Gwalior.

In brown knickers and polo-t-shirt, as a shy young boy – it was an adventure of sorts, the day I was first asked to visit my father’s small clothing store – located in the centre of our city. My mother had asked me to go and drop my father’s lunch box there.

I admit, I was scared too – travelling the two-kilometre stretch on foot was scary until it became a daily habit and a source of joy.

For many of us, born in business families – our entrepreneurship journey starts at a very young age, listening to elders having conversations about sales, money, profit, loss, capital and everything a business journey involves.

It becomes the background chatter we grow up with, and we start absorbing business lessons and learning the trade tricks.

I remember my teenage days when I spent a fair amount of time at the family store, enjoying the rush of sales and the challenges of operations and just in awe of how it all keeps running like clockwork.

Spending the last fifteen years of my life, I have come to celebrate traditional businesses which have been going on for generations. While not as much glamour surrounds the non-silicon valley organisations – as someone who has been behind the scenes with these businesses – I can say that running a business for three generations is not for the faint-hearted. It takes an enormous amount of brevity and courage.

Last year, I loved reading the stories of these three traditional businesses that transformed themselves into mega-corporations with their courage and innovation.

1. Harsh Realities by Harsh Mariawala
2. Havells: The Untold Story of Qimat Rai Gupta
3. Bhujia Barons: The Untold Story of How Haldiram Built a Rs 5000-crore Empire

I am adding a brief review of these books in the comment section.

Also, proud to be building Amrutam with second-generation leaders – sometimes, we jokingly say amongst ourselves that we didn’t start our Entrepreneurship journey from zero. We started with a complex history and are learning to grow with it.


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