Entrepreneurship lessons: Chirag Yadav, Chaipatty Teafe | SupportBiz

Top Story

Entrepreneurship lessons: Chirag Yadav, Chaipatty Teafe

 
“It’s not a cafe, it’s a teafe,” says Chirag Yadav, the founder of Bangalore-based Chaipatty Teafe. “It’s a place where you can hang out with your friends and talk, sipping chai and munching on local delicacies,” he adds. True to his words, Chaipatty Teafe has sure become one of the favourite hangouts of the Bangaloreans. The cosy feel of the place, the cutting chai, and the delicious snacks are much-loved, and the teafe has carved out a name for itself since its inception in Indira Nagar in December 2010.

It has been a wonderful journey for Yadav, who says he has matured as an entrepreneur along with Chaipatty Teafe. Yadav shares some of his most important learnings from his entrepreneurial journey with SupportBiz.

Defining the concept

Once you have a business idea, the next step is to define the concept of your business – define its scope and its intricacies. I prefer to alienate myself from my friends and family during the process of conceptualisation. Often, close friends and dear family members stunt your thought process with their love and concern, and make it difficult for you to arrive at an unbiased decision.

I sleep over the business idea that I have in my head, ponder over it, and away from friends and family, I come up with a concept that is purely based on my gut feeling.

When I am, more or less, ready with the concept, I discuss it with some of my clients or friends – usually not a family member – to know their feedback. This process helps me decide whether the concept is feasible or not.

The pilot stage

In the pilot stage of a business, I think that the most disgruntled customer gives you your best learnings.

It is very easy to ignore an irritated customer, saying that he is crass. However, if you delve deeper into the matter, if you really think over why the customer is so angry, so disgruntled with your product or service, you will come to know of the flaws in your model which escaped during the conceptualisation stage.

It is a wise step to learn from customer feedback and improve upon your faults.

Public relations

Maintaining public relations is extremely crucial in this day and age for the sustenance of a business. My take on public relations is that while word-of-mouth publicity is great for a business, it cannot be all. If you want your business to grow wings and scale over a particular level, other forms of publicity need to be resorted to as well.

Mediums for marketing are plenty today for a business – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, websites and so on,” says Yadav. “However, it is very much necessary that an entrepreneur know the limits to publicising his business. Spreading word about your own business does not mean spamming all of your friends’ walls on Facebook, or constantly talking about the good points of your products on your blog or Twitter.

Entrepreneurs should understand that there is a very thin line between being a social media nuisance, and good publicity of one’s business. One should learn to maintain a fine balance.

Media matters

The importance of media coverage in enhancing the visibility of a business cannot be ignored. Good coverage in the media can take your business places. However, it is for the entrepreneur to effectively communicate his/her business idea to the media.

There are a lot of entrepreneurs who do not communicate the concept of their business clearly and effectively to the media while giving interviews. As a result, the business idea does not reach the common people as it is meant to be.

An entrepreneur should be confident and secure while speaking of his business to the media, so that the same confidence is projected to the world at large.

Sustenance

We started with just one outlet of Chaipatty at Indira Nagar. Today, we have three branches, the other two being at Whitefield and Koramangala respectively,” states Yadav. “All of our outlets have the same cosy feel, the same ‘hangout place’ kind of atmosphere and that is why customers like them. “This wouldn’t have been possible without my personal involvement in the management of all three outlets. Chaipatty wouldn’t have been Chaipatty without my personally taking things into my hands.

I would advise all entrepreneurs to not lose that personal touch with their business. When you take away that personal touch, your business ceases to be the same and starts becoming something else. You can hire a very efficient manager to oversee your business, but it is still not the same.

It is very easy to have a hand in the running of all the operations when your business is small, but as you scale up, it becomes difficult. However, it is not impossible. I intend to not lose my touch with the business operations even when we grow larger in future, even if it means travelling to one of your outlets every week.

Hard work and perseverance

Running a business is sheer hard work and perseverance. There are times when you feel like giving it all up, but those are the times that you need to work through with determination. Give your business your best shot, persevere and wait, and you will definitely succeed.

Entrepreneurs – especially those who come from a corporate background – need to understand that in a business, there is no junior to do the groundwork for you. You need to do everything yourself. For instance, I sometimes cook, clean my outlets and wash the dishes myself if we are short on staff. It needs to be accepted as a part of business.

Simplicity and humility

I would advise entrepreneurs is to stay simple and humble even as your business grows and prospers. A lot of entrepreneurs need to learn this.

I think I am still the same as I was before – humble and simple – even after the grand success of Chaipatty, and our opening three outlets in Bangalore.

Administrative issues

A business will have administrative issues, whether you want to accept them or not. An entrepreneur has to learn to work around these issues. Breaking down and quitting in the face of these issues does not serve the purpose. Instead, an entrepreneur should learn to accept administrative problems as part of the journey of a business, and learn to find a way around these issues.

Today, there are a lot of tools available to an entrepreneur. For instance, there are websites like I Paid A Bribe to help an entrepreneur talk about his issues regarding demands for bribes. The website helps entrepreneurs find the right people to sort out his/her issues, without the need for a bribe. One just needs to be smart enough to find the right way around administrative hassles.

Administrative problems are a test of your will, they are a test of your skills as an entrepreneur. Instead of losing sleep over your business problems, concentrate on resolving them with all your might. Concentrate on expanding your business, taking your business to new shores and diversification instead.

Staffing and motivation

Make your staff your friends and you will have the most motivated team ever. I share a personal bond with each staff member in each of my outlets. At the same time, I ensure that my staff knows their limits and does not try to manipulate me.

Your staff should feel like they are a part of the business too. All the staff at all outlets of Chaipatty are trained in doing everything – from cooking all the dishes on the menu, to cleaning and washing the dishes. Even if we are short of one staff member, we are not in a difficult situation, as the others take up the work load.

I do not discriminate between my staff members in any way. I treat everyone equally. My staff respects me, and is friendly with me. Even when I scale up in business, I will try and maintain the same relations with all my staff members.

Awareness

It is important for an entrepreneur to be aware of the legal procedures and other paperwork that his type of business involves. Rather, it is crucial that an entrepreneur be aware of the trends in his industry and in the world around him.

For instance, cafes do not need a health license in India; only restaurants do. However, there are many cafe owners who are not aware of this, and invest in getting a health license.

Also, a business owner should be aware of what kind of salary attracts tax, and what does not. A CA can help you out in this regard.