August 31, 2018 10:20 AM NPT
By: Kalu Maila
I think investors in this country should at least have a five-year plan instead of a five-month plan. Many folks invest in something and want a return on their investment from the next month. Any venture needs time to grow and my successful failures have taught me that you need to give at least two to three years before your venture begins to give you back some money.
A friend of mine who is back from the West came to me for advice like many of my high school friends who visit me when they come back home for vacation or other family engagements. Yes, if I charged my NRN friends a rupee each time they asked me for advice, I would have a million rupees by now. Maybe folks come to me for advice because it’s free and I’m known to put some masala into my guffs as well.
My friends think I’m an expert when it comes to everything in Nepal because I have successfully failed in more than a dozen business ventures in the past decade. Yes, I’m one of those people who is known for his successful failures and still people come to me to figure out what not to do in Nepal instead of what to do to be a successful entrepreneur. I have more than 101 tips on what not to do here to be a failure. What about success? Well, if you follow my 101 tips then you will certainly be successful.
My friend wants to invest in a farm run by three of his cousins somewhere in Lele. I told him that the number one rule about investing in Nepal is not to invest in any of your cousins’ businesses. Family and business don’t mix at all. First of all, your relatives are only good for family reunions and functions. Apart from that, relatives are the first ones to bitch behind your back and the last one to actually help you out.
You can’t choose your relatives but you should always keep them at a distance or else you will curse your own fate for the rest of your life. And when it comes to business, partnerships in Nepal fail most of the time because the two or more partners are never on the same page. I think investors in this country should at least have a five-year plan instead of a five-month plan. Many folks invest in something and want a return on their investment from the next month. Any venture needs time to grow and my successful failures have taught me that you need to give at least two to three years before your venture begins to give you back some money.
A year ago, three of my friends got together and invested 99 hundred thousand rupees to open a new restaurant in the heart of the city. I told my friends that they could have added a lakh more and at least they could tell the world that they invested one crore rupees. But here in Nepal, everybody exaggerates and I think they invested around 70 but added another 29 just to impress their relatives. Three months into operation, the partners began to fight with one another over how to run the restaurant. One wanted to introduce happy hour from five to seven and offer drinks at 40% off whereas the other wanted to offer the cheapest price on alcoholic beverages in town seven days a week whereas the third partner wanted to offer free momos to everyone who sat down at the restaurant.
Most of the restaurants that offer alcohol and the same usual snack menu make their money on Fridays and Saturdays. The other days are ‘dead’ days where the staff and the flies meet each other and battle it out as not many customers show up on weekdays.
For any business to survive, you need to give it at least three years. Of course, you should at least be breaking even after the first year because you can’t keep on bleeding cash forever unless you are into newspapers. Then, you need to invest crores and wait at least five years to finally make some money. But, for small businesses, at least give it a year and don’t start having panic attacks a month after you open shop be it a kurta pasal, a momo stall, or anything. Be patient and you will be okay, if not close down shop and blame everyone for your failed business venture.
Anyways, let’s get back to the story of investing in a farm. My friend seems to read a lot of news from online Nepali news portals. He tells me that we, Nepalis, should not wait for the government to help us out. It seems that most of our NRNs are as patriotic as one can get than the folks living here in Nepal. My friend tells me that our farmlands are now barren as millions of young folks have left the villages for the Middle East. Only the elders and children remain back home.
It seems that most of us, city folks, are nowadays really interested to help usher in the ‘food revolution’ in this country. Yes, let us invest in farms, grow tomatoes, chickens, pigs, and ducks and fishes and we will be sufficient in tomato pickle, chicken chili, pork chops, haas ko choila, and fried fish.
I tell my friend that instead of a few individuals spending lakhs of rupees on establishing farms around the valley, why couldn’t he gather at least a dozen folks or more and invest collectively to open large-scale commercial farms? You can get into coffee in the hills or fish in the plains or trouts up there or bananas down there. I think it’s about time our NRNs or those of us who are here gather our own high school friends and start a holding company that invests in at least medium-sized businesses across the country.
Anyways, one can open a farm so that you can visit it during weekends and enjoy your own produce and drink some beer and sing some songs or you can do it in a larger scale and really contribute to cutting own our trade deficit with other countries. My friend looks at me and tells me that I should start teaching at business schools. I don’t know if he meant it as a compliment though.