In a business environment that is extremely dynamic, it is only the resilience of the entrepreneur that can make the difference. At the centre of this story is disruption, which, over the last decade in particular, has threatened the survival of businesses. The rub is disruption can come in many forms, with technology being only one of them. It could be a new regulation or the intrusion of competition or even consumers just not finding your product relevant anymore.
This scenario makes for an interesting read, especially when one is speaking of smaller businesses that are forced to try things out of the ordinary. More often than not they are weighed down by the disadvantages of size — with relatively smaller production facilities — a high dependence on labour, higher vulnerability to the vagaries of government regulations and a need to keep that eagle eye on costs at all times. In short, it is that uneasy phase of an enterprise’s existence, when there could be a surprise springing up from pretty much anywhere.
None of that takes away from the contribution they make to the overall story of industrial progress. It could be that small component placed on the mirror of a three-wheeler or that piece of garment making its way into a Walmart store in the US with the Made in India tag or an active pharmaceutical ingredient entrenched deep inside that antibiotic you pop into your mouth. These capture just a microcosm of how much the micro, small and medium enterprises (more commonly called MSMEs) do without saying very much and, in many cases, their contribution drowned by the noise made by their larger counterparts.
It was this opportunity that Outlook Business spotted, which resulted in the annual State of the Economy edition. Timed to hit the stands around the Union Budget, it is the moment when small entrepreneurs take stock of how business has been thus far, before thinking aloud what the government ought to do for them. That list, of course, is often long and has hope and helplessness in equal measure.
The edition is not restricted to being just a report on what is prevailing in an industrial cluster. From visiting manufacturing units and interviewing entrepreneurs on the shop floor to meeting industry associations, w