Ever since the news of CCD founder VG Siddhartha committing suicide broke out, the entrepreneur world is in shock. He was the role model of many entrepreneurs like me because of his humble nature, calm demeanor, down to earth attitude and persistence towards building a globally renowned Indian brand.\r\n\r\nThis is what keeps most entrepreneurs from getting sucked by multinational high paying jobs abroad to running their own show in India. In fact, even the consumers were seen deeply regretted and more concerned about the event. For them, visiting a Cafe Coffee Day was like an everyday affair.\r\n\r\nI seriously doubt if any other Indian consumer brand would have attracted so much attention than what CCD did.\r\nA Little Background\r\nVG Siddhartha, a Chikkamagaluru based businessman founded Cafe Coffee Day Global limited in 1993. Back then, the company used to grow coffee in their own estates spreading over 20,000 acres. Soon after, CCD went on to become the largest producer of arabica beans in Asia, selling coffee to countries like the US, Europe, and Japan.\r\n\r\nAlthough the company started its first coffee outlet in 1996 in Benguluru, it successfully launched as many as 1000 outlets across the country by 2011. What most of us don\u2019t know is that VG Siddhartha was recognized as \u201cThe Entrepreneur of the Year" for 2002\u201303 by \u201cThe Economic Times\u201d and the "NextGen Entrepreneur" by Forbes India in 2011.\r\n\r\nThe trouble seemed to have started for Coffee Day Enterprises in FY09 when it reported a loss of Rs 7.72 crore for the financial which surged to INR 150.75 Cr by FY16. Having served as the age-old bedrock to a billion-dollar coffee chain and with such eminent business distinctions in his name, no one could question VG Siddhartha\u2019s highly adept and masterful entrepreneurial side.\r\n\r\nPeople might have said he failed as an entrepreneur had he lived today, but not now when he made the submission himself before taking his life. To me, it\u2019s more than just a demise of an entrepreneur, it\u2019s a failure of human approach to life. However much we talk, one thing is certain that we have too many questions but too little answers.\r\n\r\nCome new day, the world would continue to exist and we would continue to business, but at the moment, we must focus on his inexplicable yet incomparable legacy.\r\n\r\nAnd perhaps this is where, we have learning for all.\r\nLeaders Come In Many Colors\r\nAlthough the outward personality of every leader can be different, those who succeed have many things in common:\r\n\r\n \tThey have a vision and drive to it with persistence\r\n \tThey hire right people and leave them free to perform, like VG Siddhartha said \u201cI\u2019m not a very smart guy. I just employ smart people.\u201d\r\n \tAlthough they strive to stay on the right side of the law, but their go-getter attitude seldom gets them into crossing the line specially when the law is not very well defined VG Siddhartha once mentioned \u201cI am a businessman. I pay my taxes. I do my bit for society. I have no time to be drawn into controversies not of my making,\u201d Siddhartha says.\r\n \tWhen they fall they have a natural tendency to stand up and get to speed, in this case probably the pressure from external factors was so much that he finally succumbed to it.\r\n\r\nEntrepreneurs need to identify their core strengths as a leader and need to onboard partners who have complementary strengths to cover up for their weakness.\r\nSo if you think you are emotionally susceptible to take the extreme step you need to have an inner circle you can confide in. I am sure VG Siddhartha would have had one, but it's hard to believe that no one had a clue until the D day.\r\nGo Slow And Steady\r\nI like to give an example to explain this. What if VG Siddhartha had followed the footsteps of people like Vijay Mallaya and fled the country without repaying the company debt? The same people who are now praising him for his integrity, would have cursed and hurled shoes at him. Isn\u2019t it?\r\n\r\nAlthough the situation is different but there is definitely something in the system that needs to be set right when big businesses start struggling.\r\n\r\nThese are troubling times for entrepreneurs. They start thinking of either fleeing the country or committing suicide. Interestingly, this is when their assets outweigh their debts.\r\n\r\nVijay Mallaya was quick to comment on the event as he tried to get some empathy for his actions.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHe may not entirely be wrong in his comments but I think these have come rather late when the damage is done.\r\nWhat we learn from all this is to go slow and steady. When you see the topline (revenue) rise and bottomline (profit) fall, cut cost and make it green.\r\nBootstrapping Best, Equity Next, Run Away From Debt \r\nI might sound a little conservative here but I have seen businesses making fortunes sticking to bootstrapping over the years. It makes sense to use your own cash and savings to start your venture at least during the angel funding stages till it turns bright.\r\n\r\nEven when your business turns profitable, prefer to continue bootstrapping. Reinvest the amount that you earn rather than procuring outside funds. Your investment may look small but you stay secure.\r\n\r\nOnly in cases where you see an immense opportunity for growth, opt for equity investment rather than debt.\r\n\r\nEven with equity investments preference should be as below -\r\n\r\n \tEquity partner who adds some strategic value to company's growth\r\n \tVC\u2019s and PE firms\r\n \tHNIs and non professional VCs\r\n\r\nDon\u2019t Expect Government Support, Stay On The Right Side Of The Law\r\nThe taxpayer rate in India is poor. So to expect government to back your personal undertaking is unreasonable. A similar demand was made by technology startups in India ahead of General Budget this year but nothing came out. Air India goes into losses, it\u2019s still flying while Jet Airways is grounded. In telecom sector, BSNL posts a cumulative EBIT loss of Rs 82,000 crore (FY09 to FY18) but is still afloat while all private players struggle.\r\nSo dear entrepreneurs while your tax money will be used to cover losses of public companies, don\u2019t expect it to come to your rescue.\r\nAlways keep on the right side of the law and pay your taxes.\r\nDon\u2019t Aspire To Be A Ratan Tata Or Shiv Nadar\r\n\u00a0No, you\u2019ve read it wrong. Don\u2019t catch my words. You have every right to be ambitious and create another Flipkart.\r\n\r\nThe point I am trying to make here is that it is important to stay in business than to make yourself the biggest brand in the world.\r\n\r\nThinking of multiplication and expansion is fine but not where you run the risk of being completely eliminated from the game.\r\nAvoid Stress To Overpower You \r\n\u00a0This is probably the most neglected part with most entrepreneurs.\r\n\r\nWhen they start a business, they keep themselves engaged to take their business to profitable levels.\r\n\r\nWhen they reach that point, they start thinking of stabilizing it.\r\n\r\nThen comes a point when expansion starts to take over their mind. In a nutshell, it is a vicious cycle that never seems to have an end. It constantly keeps you going.\r\n\r\nLittle do we realize that during all this, stress starts creeping in. Even when it\u2019s a small failure, it appears exponentially big, simply because of the big-dollar value attached to it.\r\nPhilanthropy Should Start Early In Business\r\nThis is perhaps the easiest of mantras to improve your chances of being funded, especially if you\u2019re a startup. Veteran investors pay a lot of emphasis on how a particular product or an idea would address social causes before shelling out money.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s a different story than the same startups fail to recall their objectives in the wake of business success down the line. Philanthropy should start at an early stage. Start spending on the welfare of others as soon as you have enough in your wallet. Not only it will generate more business opportunities but also pave the way for brand security.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s simple. When you help others, people remember you. So when bad times hit you, you stand a greater chance of being supported.\r\nSpend More Time Deep Down\r\nThis is one thing that entrepreneurs hardly follow. When they reach business heights, they hardly spend time with entry-level employees. I can understand that sitting with people of the same stature gets you more solutions and business ideas but you hardly get tips on undercurrents. Isn\u2019t it?\r\n\r\nSpend time with employees at entry-level. They would teach you how to take a proxy leave from work :)\r\nTo Save Your Ship, Throw Expenses Overboard \r\nWhen you sense things are slipping away and your profits get <10%, it's cost cutting time. It\u2019s a strict NO to cover losses with funding (debt or equity), the only way is to reduce expenses and set it right.\r\n\r\nCovering losses with funding is a trap that needs to be avoided at every cost, here entrepreneurs (being highly optimistic) hope for profits someday but eventually they get doomed with ever piling up of debt and interest.\r\nFinally, If It Stinks, Sink It\r\nRemember, you were the same person who made $$$ from the same initiative. So what if it is in doldrums today? Don\u2019t try to find answers. Only the richest worry of falling. Rag pickers don\u2019t have to worry about not being able to find it one day.\r\n\r\nInstead of sitting in the dark, you should be proud of what you did once. Let it go, sink it if it stinks and limit your losses, it's essential to live now to fly another day! Though we may not realize but life often gives us a second chance.\r\nFinal Words\u00a0\r\n\u00a0I cannot think of an incident in the recent past that got so much attention and coverage both by businesses and consumers alike.\u00a0 The least we can do is to take lessons from it before forgetting.\r\n\r\nToday, VG Siddhartha is no more with us but \u201ca lot will continue to happen over coffee\u201d even in the times to come.\r\n\r\nRIP!