I have always had a certain inclination towards on-the-job learning. Growing up in a Sindhi family, our dinner table discussions used to involve my father discussing factory issues. What I learned off these conversations helped me immensely later on when I had to deal with factories myself. Through my years at Baggit, I have come to understand that learning on the job can be just as good as or sometimes even better than formal education on a subject.
Right from when I started Baggit I understood that being curious was essential. Being the founder, I had to do a lot by myself as there weren’t formal teams; hence there was really no other option but to learn the techniques by myself. Most of these techniques are not even taught at business schools. For example, negotiating with vendors and doing all the grunt work as you move from shop to stall identifying raw materials, teaches you a lot about how to deal with people to get best results.
There are always gaps between theoretical knowledge and practical execution. The practicality involved in taking spaces on rent and building up a brand like Baggit, with its 50+ exclusive brand outlets, taught me all about legalities, branding, accounting, visual merchandising as well as design & advertising. It’s now as if I did my graduation in all these fields! And the biggest lesson it taught me was that of management – especially when it came to dealing with workers when the demand for our bags grew. While we used to manage paying them their dues within a week’s time, I investigated to realize that they preferred to work with three basic elements: consistency, timely wages (including credit facility) and a good wage. My leadership experience reminded me that this lag in production could not be addressed unless the people who worked for me were happy. So, we changed our terms to ensure that we become the best paymasters in the industry.
However, one of the most important things to remember in life, especially if you are an entrepreneur, is to never stop learning. While situations and challenges gave me daily practical lessons, I have never hesitated to take up important formal education in fields that interest me as well. Just recently I visited the London College of Communication for a course in Digital Marketing, focusing on Social Media Marketing. I was there along with my 18-year-old daughter and found myself just as inquisitive and curious as her. It was a great feeling. This curiosity is a key ingredient that helps to learn on the job. As long as you are always curious, you will always keep learning (and growing) – be it formally or on-the-job.