Arun Thiyagarajan is the founder of Swathi Business Solutions. He owns a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science from Annamalai University, Chidambaram & a Masters Degree in Business Administration specialized in the field of Marketing from the University of Madras. He comes with an overall experience of 19 yrs in the consulting industry. Expertise includes Business Development & Client Relations, Resourcing, Corporate Training & Software Development activities both in the domestic & global market.
He was also instrumental in setting up Swathi Business Solutions LLC in Atlanta, GA, the USA in 2011. He also heads an organization called IntegWrite Technologies a group company of Swathi Business Solutions, which focuses on consulting on Technical Writing & Documentation projects, Social Media Audit & Workshops on various domains. The recent add-ons are consulting on various process implementations for our clients.
We hope this can inspire you to become a successful person too! It is worth listening to a successful entrepreneur or to people who share their success stories. We can significantly learn many things from the experiences of them, by listening to their story.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with him:
Q1) Hi Arun, How did the idea for your business/startup come about?
After the completion of my graduation in Agricultural Science, I had a thought to do a post–graduate program. The 2 options in front of me were either to specialize in the same field of agriculture (or) to have a PG Degree in other areas. Then I decided to go in for a PG Program in Management. This drove me to take up a PG Degree in Business Administration. Then came the choice of specialization.
Since I always had a method of analysis approach and coming out with creative, practical, and realistic ideas that could be implemented on the ground, I decided to specialize in Marketing.
Q2) What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
The first driving factor was my Father who supported and encouraged me in the initial days to do small kinds of businesses. I gained experience in running a Business Centre initially. Then in order to increase the fund flow to run the business center, I took up Franchisee in Logistics, Advertisement Franchisee for a Leading News Paper, and the Franchisee for a Leading reputed brand that manufactured Washing Machines and other consumer durables.
All these activities happened while I was doing my PG Degree. The basic concept is maximizing the revenue with the available resources. After doing it for 3-4 yrs, I felt the need for a large amount of Working Capital to boost up the revenue, which I was not able to generate at that point in time. In those days, there were not much support (or) opportunities for the Start-ups like it is in the current scenario which made me decide to choose a line of business wherein you have limited investments with low & medium risk and getting sizable returns
This helped the idea to blossom the idea of coming into the Consulting and Service Industry. This helped me to gain a lot of experience to rise up to the current situation.
Q3) How did you come up with the name for your business/startup?
The Word Swathi has the following meanings in Sanskrit “Pure as a Pearl; A Star; Clean; Bright; First Drop of Rain; Precious”. As the name implies we are crystal clear in our approach in our delivery to the client. Like the first drop of rain, we communicate to the client in a clear and transparent way What Could be Delivered and What Cannot Be Delivered.
IntegWrite – Was derived from the Word Integrity which implies the trustworthiness of oneself towards others. A simple example is that of The National Bird Of India The Peacock. As per the Author: Joshua Zitting “The Peacock’s many different colors and radiant feathers signifies integrity, truth, honor, and making sure to love one’s self.
When a peacock enters into the Frey they strut in confidently and gracefully as if nothing is wrong.” Similar to this IntegWrite caters to their clients with full integrity, confidentiality, not making the client spend on something which shall not be productive, just because to bill the client.
Apart from this, the other aspect is the Integration of ideas and thoughts of different personalities like Technical Communicators, Technology Experts, SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) Management experts, etc., while providing/suggesting and implementing a solution for the client’s requirement and need of the hour.
Q4) What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?
Our area of expertise is our in-depth knowledge and understanding of the various Information Technological needs. We take care in building excellent relationships with clients thereby providing professional service globally. We offer our services in the given areas:-
- IT consulting
- Staffing (Contract & Direct Hire)
- R2D – Ready to Deploy Resource
- SAP Consulting
- Corporate Training and Workshops
- Recruitment Audit
- Social Media Audit
- HR Audit & Process Implementation
- Software Development
- Technical Writing & Software documentation
- Advanced Certification Programs
Q5) Why should people choose your product/services?
Keeping the product / services in par always depends on the following key factors:
- (1) Being process-oriented.
- (2) Updating the client with inputs in terms of what is prevailing in the market.
- (3) Understanding the client requirements very clearly. Be free to ask for any clarifications before you start working on the requirements.
- (4) Availability of the particular resources in the market in the current scenario
- (5) Level of the organizations they are available like Tier-1, Tier-2, Tier -3, etc.,
- (6) The compensation range they would be available.
- (7) Awareness of Technology
- (8) Do not compromise on your quality at any point in time so that your standards are maintained.
- (9) Be free & open to your clients. Tell the client openly what is possible & what is not possible.
Q6) How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
In my way of thinking, success is a process that is not instantaneously achieved. Hence, there is no just one thing, but a combination of different traits, which helps me reach the destination. I believe in starting from the beginning of an assignment or contract and this needs proper planning and strategized execution. I get inspired and motivated to take up challenges with more energy. Any business helps you to build and grow your career, but also helps you establish yourself as a person.
I try to identify the circumstances on which the requirements are based and allocate my team who are accountable for the activity, thus tracking the progress from its initial stages. I keep reiterating that my desires and objectives are just to keep on winning and that brings me the satisfaction of performing the duties without any lapse. Commitment is my accomplishment and the result it gives is a success, sweet success.
Q7) Did the pandemic (COVID 19) affect your business? if yes how?
There were disruptions in the business activities under the Covid-19 crisis. To overcome this you need to realign your strategy in such a way that you add one (or) 2 activities, which could fetch you some kind of revenue to tide over the crisis. Under these circumstances, we need to think of an area wherein your services are much needed which others could not provide.
The most important criteria here is that it would be better to make this an add-on to your existing line of service (or) activity. Never ever try to quit the existing service and try a new different line as this may not be the right time to do. There has been a couple of add-ons during this crisis from our end.
1) Feasibility Audit in terms of Aligning Resource Management with Technology Migration:-
It is a kind of audit wherein you work on the strength and weaknesses of our client in terms of Resource Management and Deployment with Technology Migration. There are a lot of factors involved which would be taken into account to come out with the Audit report. Would be delighted to present a detailed insight in a separate column in this regard.
2) Investment Advisory & Consulting:–
The need of the hour for every business person to tide over the current difficult situation, for an Entrepreneur, Manufacturer. People engaged in catering to the service industry. What they require is the Working Capital at this point of time to streamline their line of activity and to restore the supply chain to the Pre-Covid era. This is one such area we have started focusing on as an add-on to our existing line of activity. Though we were involved in this previously, our focus has been on high priority in the current situation.
Q8) Have you considered any alliance/partnership/funding?
We are always open for alliances, but the fact is that we do start working after an in-depth and deep-rooted analysis, the objective behind the alliance, and most importantly the trust that could be established between both of us. We upfront tell them that what is the deliverables that could be fulfilled from our end. This kind of approach helps to build a strong alliance.
So far we have not gone for the funding of our own entity, but since we are into the service of Investment Advisory & Consulting, we always look forward to building relationships with prospective Investors.
Q9) What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
Business is always in the air, but the most valuable commodity in this scenario is a healthy and supportive client relationship. We seriously keep a note to maintaining a balanced client loyalty to avoid denting our relationship, thus affecting our market reputation. We practice regular follow up with our clients. This is to ensure relationship-building measures and also make them aware that we are available to cater to their proposed or future business needs.
We take time to listen to them as to what their feedback is with regard to their previous work or in pursuance of their pending work with us. We take time to understand their issues and prepare ourselves to address their concerns if any. This helps us with learning a lesson to forego such challenges in time ahead. Our line of communication is not just phone or emails, but we pursue regular contact with our clients through brochures, posters, pamphlets, videos, e-mail marketing, and other digital marketing souvenirs. We try to send in questionnaires to update our knowledge base and FAQs to recommend alternate solutions, appropriately.
Q10) How many hours a day do you work on average & can you describe/outline your typical day?
The working hours are always not fixed as sometimes it extends beyond the stipulated time of 8 hours per day. It depends on the need and delivery committed to our clients. Sometimes I have been put in a situation, wherein, I had to work on the Weekends as well to meet the client deliverables. I always plan the schedule for the next day at the EOD of the previous day.
There have been situations wherein unexpectedly something pops up, that has not been planned as per the schedule. At the maximum, I try to complete the task on the same day. The pending work for the day is postponed for the next day will result in affecting the next day’s schedule and productivity. As far as possible I try to prioritize things based on the urgency of my client’s need. Almost 90-95%, I see that the work from my end is completed and the further process depends on how and when the client responds back.
Q11) How do you manage yourself and keep on going despite the challenges? What drives you?
Pressure and stress have been a part and parcel of my life and have been used to them. I should be grateful to my father who taught me the art of managing it. He has served in the Indian Army as a Commissioned Officer during the Emergency Commission after which he served as a Senior Gazetted Officer in the State Government.
He used to tell me that there is no life without pressure and stress, and it might be different for each one of us. When we feel that we are under pressure (or) stress it will exert us too much. As a result of which one will not be able to use his mind to think about what should be done next.
The best way is to try to keep it aside and to think about what could be done to come out of the situation. Try to analyze where we went wrong as this would be most crucial to take the next step. There may be some instances, wherein one gets stuck in the middle of something from which he can neither get out of it (or) proceed further. One such example would be in the case of making investments in something.
A thorough analysis of what we are going to do, exploring both plus and minuses of the act, what should be done to overcome if something negative happens during the process to make it positive. The best thing would be making a proper analysis and setting up a strategy before you act.
Q12) What comes first for you money or emotions?
Between the 2, Money & Emotions, I always try to strike a balance between the 2 like the 2 plates in a common balance. I take much care to see that neither of them overrides the other. The name of the firm Swathi as per Astrology implies the 2 plates in a balance. Again with respect to Emotions, as per me, it can be classified into personal and Business Emotions.
A fine example of Business Emotion would be when a client tries to negotiate and convince you on some aspect in terms of the deliverables (or) the professional fees to be paid, citing that there are more works to be carried out. In most cases, it is only anticipation, something like a “CAT ON A WALL”. It can also be said as probability,
In these cases, the client is also has got no concrete proof that the work might turn up and the more vital fact is that whether the client intends to award the next Work Order/ Purchase Order to us only. Suggest never to budge to this kind of tactics, Unless and until the client is very serious about it, do not succumb to emotions.
My suggestion would be is that do not mix personal with professional relationships Never ever value things only in terms of money alone. Also, see that what is the value add we could add so that we could have a good and healthier relationship with the client.
Prepare your mindset in such a way that we go after money. Following a healthy and ethical practice will make money come to you. Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?
In order to cope with the rapid pace in which the world is changing, the following are the leadership traits that are mandatory for achieving your success.
- Do proper analysis before venturing.
- Should be willing to work as a part of the team besides leading the team
- Should be a good leader and do not try only to be a boss. Being a good leader will automatically make you a boss.
- The foremost of among all this is that one should have the patience to listen to others as this would be key to get all the information you require.
- Never behave in an autocratic manner as that would lead to your inevitable downfall.
Q13) What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?
- Be clear in your objective
- Should have a fighting spirit to achieve your goal.
- Do proper analysis before venturing.
- Should be willing to work as a part of the team besides leading the team
- Should be a good leader and do not try only to be a boss, as being a good leader will automatically make you a boss.
- Care for your employees, as employees form the backbone of any organization.
- Have a constructive approach
- Do not be negative.
- Take an only calculative risk when you start.
- Try to grow at a steady pace as this would set a strong platform
- Do not try to develop in a short span as that may result in catastrophe.
Follow Him @
|Swathi Solutions Website||https://www.swathisolutions.com|
|IntegWrite Technologies Website||https://www.integwrite.com/|
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