My business acumen comes from my father, I am endlessly grateful for his humility and guidance.
He walked eight miles from a small Indian village into the city with his younger brother, to build a small retail clothing shop.
He later opened a shoe shop. It was unusual at the time because, in the town, shoe shops were owned by Muslims only. Hindus never participated in this trade.
My father ran his shops using the same methods as Amazon and Microsoft do today. These methods were based on cash allocation and attention to the customer.
He knew their names and their families. He even sent handwritten letters to the customers who came from the surrounding villages.
The shop was very successful, most of his competition bargained prices. He started in a town of 100,000 people with fixed prices – take it or leave it – and that was the differentiating factor.
He taught me that the profits should be like salt in the curry, in terms of amount.
His profit margin was only 6.25% percent.
At the age of 10, I would post prices on the shoe boxes at 6.25% over the cost of the shoe.
Remember in those days, we had no electricity, no plumbing, we owned the shop, no rent. Any money to the bottom line was cash, and we made enough the first year to pay all the capital back that we had borrowed.
These principles were ingrained in me.