Travails Of An Indian Entrepreneur

By Veeresh Malik

Here is a partial list of all the non-productive work I had to do as a small entrepreneur in India in the ’80s onwards.

# Keep separate staff for paying utility bills, picking up and dropping documents, standing in lines for everything, buying train or air tickets, carry cash up or down.
# Keep a retinue of separate consultants and agents for about a dozen statutory and mandatory adherences, who knew the fixed rates and settings.
# Keep a fleet of cars, trucks and drivers with attendant staff in the absence of 3rd party logistics providors.
# Operate own warehouses with multiple staff in multiple States and then hire more staff to perform audits-average dwell time for total fraud to occur would be 3 to 5 years.
# Keep track of every voucher issued and keep filing them, making photo-copies and then attending all sorts of sales tax, income tax and other tax notices, personally with more consultants.
# Management skills for stuff like how to buy 2-wheelers in black for office work and then fix the documentation for them.
# I once made 42 visits to get permissions for using walkie talkies and then ran into trouble with other authorities who demanded their share of compliances. And this was despite a shippie friend who was running the company supplying the walkie-talkies.
# Make separate demand drafts for every container booked inward or outward on trains, correct for the exact weight, and in case of a discrepancy, make more payments and penalties, also by demand drafts. This was accepted only 3 days in a week, 10am to noon, so the demand drafts had to be made the previous day.
# Make more demand drafts for demurrage to be paid because the containers could not be released because of discrepancies in the demand drafts.
# Make affidavits for signature variations and other stuff. An affidavit making person set up shop in our building eventually. One person to coordinate with the affidavit guy, who was different from the stamp vendor guy.
# Physically go to stock broker’s office everytime for sale-purchase of shares and God helped you if you were stuck with odd-lots or fake shares.
# Attend and provide for childbirth, engagement, wedding, Diwali and other functions for a list of people from assorted departments which was more than the annual profit at times. Hire and provide cars with drivers and then listen to crap about the useless driver who finally ran away after 96 hours non-stop duties without being provided water or food.
# Stand in assorted lines with more forms for foreign exchange and foreign travel permissions. More consultants for this too.
# Do nagin dance if a truck with our stuff on it got nabbed for anything anywhere in the country. Often go personally.
# Attend high alcohol corporate and embassy parties where people were not released till atleast 10% people fell into the flower-beds, drunk tight.
# Keep Post Office happy regularly and often go there to pick up mail myself.
# Beg for telex and phone connections and multiple visits.
# Go around trying to meet people to get a new car, truck, scooter.
# Maintaining good relationships with bank staff for everything from teller & cash & token & more including for cheque book issue.

(The post first appeared as a Facebook post of the author. It has been reproduced here, unedited, with his permission.-Ed)