So, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word entrepreneur?
Fancy offices, back to back meetings, and the freedom to be your own boss. While all of that could be partly true, an entrepreneur is actually someone who has a vision and is passionate about bringing about a change. An entrepreneur must have the courage to think differently than the rest and the spirit to turn dreams into reality. Building a business from scratch is no easy feat. It requires consistency, hard work, and determination to do something big.
If you’re embarking upon your entrepreneurship journey too, you must read some of the most inspiring stories of the best, most successful Indian entrepreneurs.
If one’s only goal is to achieve excellence, there is absolutely nothing that can possibly act as a barrier against it. India has been the home to many legends who have timelessly displayed a range of unique qualities. Corporate leaders are unarguably the heroes of the corporate epic.
Listed below are the top six successful entrepreneurs in India:
1. Rahul Bajaj
Company: Bajaj Group
His Story: Rahul Bajaj became the Chief Executive Officer of Bajaj Auto in 1968. He transformed the small-size auto company into a full-fledged global giant! With the company surpassing the billion mark turnover in just a decade, under his leadership, the company witnessed the zenith of success. The former Bajaj Chetak scooters, launched under his leadership, had over 5-6 years of the waiting list – such has been the prowess and popularity of Bajaj products!
His Masterstroke: The greatest masterstroke of Rahul Bajaj was when he ventured into varied sectors. He split Bajaj Auto into Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finserv, and a holding company in 2008. After the passing of his father in 1972, Rahul Bajaj was appointed the Managing Director of Bajaj Auto. Rahul Bajaj built Bajaj Auto in the 1970s and 1980s. The revenues of the company were built under his leadership to join the billion-dollar club. Rahul Bajaj is a legend in the business fraternity, both in India as well as globally. His name is associated with the economic liberalisation of India.
2. Dhirubhai Ambani
Company: Reliance Industries
His Story: After establishing his first textile mill at Naroda, Dhirubai Ambani launched his first product, Vimal. Later, he decided to diversify into myriad sectors, such as petrochemicals, telecommunications, energy, power, retail, and logistics, to name a few. From humble beginnings, he rose to create the largest industrial empire of the country – Reliance Industries. In the process of doing so, he became one of the world’s richest people.
His Masterstroke: Popularly known for kick-starting the equity cult in the country, Dhirubhai Ambani was applauded for shaping the culture of the Indian stock market by devising strategies to attract hordes of retail investors and inviting them to invest in a market that state-run financial institutions initially monopolised. With his off-beat and risk-taking approach, he refused to follow the traditional way and firmly believed that the only thing that really mattered at the end of the day were the end results.
3. Shiv Nadar
His Story: After his brief association with Microcorp, Shiv Nadar founded HCL in 1976. One of India’s most famous entrepreneurs, he was quick to identify the potential boom in the IT sector before anyone else. According to reports, when he expanded HCL in Singapore, the company made a profit of over a million dollars.
His Masterstroke: Shiv Nadar still attributes his success and fame to teamwork and his undying entrepreneurial spirit. This helped him transform risks into opportunities to handle the evolving environmental and technological patterns.
4. Sanjiv Bajaj
Company: Bajaj Finserv
His story: The leader of Bajaj Finserv has successfully innovated the company into a financial powerhouse. Sanjiv Bajaj entirely transformed the way finance leaders deal with money. With a keen focus on sustainable profitability coupled with innovative ideas and strategies, Sanjiv Bajaj has created multiple business lines, with a customer-first approach towards innovation.
His Masterstroke: It took Sanjiv Bajaj and the company over two years of hard work, strategising, and resilience to make changes in the ongoing operations and processes – everything for the sake of rebuilding them through fresh ideas and technology. Under the strong leadership of Sanjiv Bajaj, the company reduced the time of loan approval from 5 days to 30 seconds.
5. Lakshmi Niwas Mittal
Company: Mittal Steel
His story: After completing his graduation, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal worked for his family firm for a while and then set out his own venture back in 1976, on discovering a steel plant in Indonesia, which he later named ArcelorMittal. After a full-fledged demerger of his own business from the family’s corporate holdings in the country, Mittal settled down in London but continued to make his mark on the world steel industry. Today, Arcelor Mittal is called Mittal Steel, and the company is currently operational in over 14 countries across the globe.
His Masterstroke: Lakshmi Niwas Mittal wasn’t born with a dominating steel empire. Instead, he paved his way into it through persistence and ingenuity. He has won many awards, such as the 2008 Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and 2008 Padma Vibushan – the highest civilian award by the Republic of India.
6. Dilip Shanghvi
Company: Sun Pharmaceutical
His story: While helping his father sort his business, Dilip Shanghvi realised that it could be good to establish his own business. So, he decided to set up his own business and market his brands instead of carrying on with the trading business. He started Sun Pharmaceutical in 1982 with its base in Vapi, Gujarat. A few years later, Ranbaxy, acquired by Sun Pharma, surpassed global revenues worth $2 billion and became the first-ever Indian pharmaceutical company to have come this far. Dedication, hard work, and the ability to make the right decisions define Dilip Shanghvi aptly.
His Masterstroke: To ensure that his business is strong and steady, Dilip Shanghvi also ventured into the European as well as the US markets. While the acquisition of Ranbaxy provided the company with the much-necessary revenue and depth required to sustain itself in emerging markets, in 2012, when Sun Pharmaceutical acquired URL Pharma Inc. and DUSA Pharmaceuticals Inc., it sure was a significant milestone in his career.
Successful entrepreneurs are the backbone of their organisations. Charged with steering their brand over and around pitfalls, they are visionaries who know when to seize opportunities and encourage employees to work consistently towards the company’s goals. While effective entrepreneurship is often associated with leadership skills, it is much more than that. It is the perfect mix of patience, perseverance, charisma, zeal, and self-assurance with a healthy dose of creativity and a risk-taking spirit.