By Sriya Ray Chaudhuri
In an exclusive interview to the Entrepreneur, Shah Rukh Khan reveals how his unusual business philosophies have helped him reach the levels of success he enjoys today.
Q. Describe Shah Rukh Khan the entrepreneur.
A. I am not sure what that term denotes exactly. I just believe that whatever you do should, in the long run, make you feel a little happy and satisfied. It may show a tangible return, like money. My business ideals are not really takes on what the account books say. I work on what makes me comfortable and happy and the rest just follows from there. I am just blessed with a great team which has made my success possible on the business front.
Q. Your team members say you are a great guy to work with.
A. Yes, they'll tell you he's a sweet guy, a nice boss. The thing is that I leave individual people to their expertise and specialization.
Q. So, you don’t have a particular philosophy as an entrepreneur?
A. I just feel a lot of good ownership with what I produce and what I do. It's like going door-to-door and asking people, listen, would you like to just taste this, say, new sweet dish I've made? If more people like it, nice. If they don't, do not get bogged down by the negation. Just apologize to them from your heart and tell yourself to try harder the next time.
Q. How does your cricket franchise work?
A. My team was bogged down with the expectations of being part of a filmstar's team—with no proper reasons. So for four years, KKR struggled. Though many other IPL teams faced problems too, we came in for a lot of flak. The lesson I learned from this is that you don't have to look good if you are not delivering. Of course, I am a movie star, so I have to look good whether I am delivering or not. But I must say that KKR is like any other IPL team and it is trying very hard to do better and better every season.
Q. You stress the importance of your team a lot.
A. Yes, despite all that I have said about my entrepreneurial abilities, I cannot take away the importance of my core team across my business verticals. I just go to my office, sometimes very late in the evening, and behave like a mad person at times. I just ask them can we do this, can we do that; yet they always manage to get on the same page as me.
Q. You don't discuss numbers too?
A. I have no understanding of numbers. I mean, I understand... I am an educated guy but after some time, I just want to be given the bottomline. I want to know what the figures mean, are we good or are we bad. If we are doing badly, fine, we know it. So, now it's time to make it good.
Q. That just reiterates the importance of a good team in a successful business.
A. I am very fortunate to have good people in my team who love me a lot. I am indeed blessed that I have the amazing undying loyalty of the people around me. And you cannot have any alternative to that. My people believe in me and they always go that extra mile for me. They are there for me at all times. I tell them if money is not coming in I will just go and dance at a few more weddings and get the money flowing in. What is money? I never had much money. I came to Mumbai with just Rs 1,500 and the Videocon TV my mother gave me before she died. I had nothing else. At the end of the day, whatever you take away from me, you will still leave me with much more than what I came with. If you can say the same thing about yourself, then you are a big businessman too. But if you take away that Rs 1,500 and my Videocon TV, then there is cause for concern. But, so far, so good.
Q. Were you so hands-off when you started out too?
A. No, earlier I was more involved. Then I saw people who were far better than me at these things. So, I started delegating work. If you leave the jobs to the people who are meant to do those jobs, they will not betray your trust. And, hey, your battle is won.
This interview was first published in the Entrepreneur magazine, which is part of Network 18. For the full interview, grab the latest issue of Entrepreneur. Out now on stands.