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SMEs should have better skilled laborers

 

VaneetaPunchvedi | 15 OCT, 2014

Shortage of skilled labour is a big problem for Indian small and medium enterprises; though India is having huge population yet there is scarcity of skills; more vocational training is required to get labor force up to speed, said, Rahul Jagtiani a Mumbai based SME owner in an exclusive interview with SME Times.
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On the question on govt. role for growth and development for SMEs in India he said, “Debt financing should be made easier by the government. SME zones, where rents are lower, simple taxation laws, would go a long way in reducing the burden on an SME. Programs and initiatives where SMEs’ have access to a better talent pool would also be quite beneficial.”

Excerpts of the interview…

Please tell our readers something about your 3year old  PlushPlaza?

 

JAWAHAR MATHEWS (EDITOR,SME sector)

 

Rahul Jagtiani: PlushPlaza is a boutique lifestyle company offering funky furniture, trendy home accessories and innovative gifting options. Through our e-commerce portal, we offer our products and ideas to customers around the globe.

You started your company with the aim of offering something unique to your customers but every second company for your style is having the same concept, what do you do to present your company as different from the crowd? What should be the differentiation mantra for small firms?
Rahul Jagtiani: A small firm cannot compete on marketing budgets. It must compete on design on service. The kind of products we offer are hard to find easily.

What are your basic marketing strategy which you follow to attract your new customers and maintain your old audience.customers?
Rahul Jagtiani: Innovation in design, excellent customer service, and transparent policies are the best way to market your product to the customers. For example, one of our corporate clients came back to us with a minor complaint for a shipment that was delivered 3 years ago. 9 out of 10 companies would have refused to service that order, but we promptly did because solving a customer’s problem is a part of our DNA. We also send personalized and customized emails to clients instead of mass  newsletters as we believe that form of communication just adds to the clutter. Our communication is designed around why a particular product is good for a customer, rather than just listing features or discounts.

Good content is an important marketing strategy and we are constantly showcasing products and ideas around our brand through various social media channels, including YouTube and Pinterest, apart from FB, Twitter and G+.

SMEs are playing vital role in Indian economy and its growth but somehow SMEs are lacking for their own development and growth, according to you what are the reasons behind the drawbacks of SME sector?
Rahul Jagtiani: Lack of finance and high costs of doing business tend to discourage SME’s from development. Also, merger and acquisition activity is not very common in this sector. Unlike the west, businesses here do not tend to get bought or sold very easily in small scale industries. These are some of the drawbacks of the sector.

PlushPlaza is a global exporter, would you like to share your problems with us which you face in your daily export schedule?
Rahul Jagtiani: Although India has a huge population, our labor force is not very skilled. More vocational training is required to get labor force up to speed. Additionally, lack of infrastructure, consistent supply of power, and bottlenecks at custom ports increase lead time and costs.

How you see the govt. role for strengthening the SMEs by giving them various benefits? What do you expect the new government to do for SMEs?
Rahul Jagtiani: Debt financing should be made easier by the government. SME zones, where rents are lower, simple taxation laws, would go a long way in reducing the burden on an SME. Programs and initiatives where SME’s have access to a better talent pool would also be quite beneficial.

Which are the areas such as accounting, employee management, customer relationship management, production, marketing, etc. you think SMEs find most difficult to handle and why? Do you think outsourcing some activities may prove beneficial for SMEs?
Rahul Jagtiani:Production and employee management can get cumbersome for SME. Skilled labor at affordable prices is getting harder every year. However, certain functions can be outsourced, such as accounting and customer relationship management.

Which is the biggest obstacle, according to you, that is facing the small business sector and the government is not doing much to address it?
Rahul Jagtiani:Lack of Infrastructure and consistent energy, and lack of affordable loans remain the pet peeves of the SME.

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