Books & Periodicals

The SMElting Cauldron succinctly captures the nuances and challenges of the business environment for Indian SMEs. The eighteen industry accounts in this book are drawn from the author’s association with this sector over the past three decades.
These stories represent a broad spectrum of Indian SMEs from across the country. The author discusses threadbare the unfortunate paradox that has come to define this sector—despite there being over forty million enterprises employing over 80 per cent of India’s industrial workforce, the SME sector contributes a significantly lower 37 per cent to the GDP.

What are the issues plaguing this sector? Do these stem from the realities of local politics and governance, the squeeze of the suppliers, buyers, influencers and funders? Or, is it much more complex? The book covers the entire gamut of real problems SMEs confront every day—from working capital management to recruiting and retaining talent; from taxes and legal issues to JVs and partnerships; from pricing strategies to internal and ethical conflicts; from raising capital to board management.

This book is a pragmatic insight into the mindset and the thought processes that confront entrepreneurs and the ways to deal with challenges and pressures. It is a must read for all those who are a part of the SME ecosystem and want the sector to grow and prosper.  We interviewed the author and he shared some interesting perspectives on his journey  –

  1. What is the central theme of the book? What made you write the book?

The theme of the book centres around the challenges and issues that SMEs face in our country. It covers a wide gamut of challenges from people hiring and careers, Organization structure, capital raising, working capital management, compliance to partner and Investor management, values and ethical challenges.

I run a boutique strategy consulting firm which has worked with SMEs for the past 10 years, and we handhold them through their growth, consolidation and exit if need be. In this process we do strategy, business planning, Capital raising and structuring, negotiating JVs and mergers,  market expansion, Organization  structuring and execution handholding through it all. I have culled out my experiences in this journey, and the book draws upon my 30 plus years of Corporate world as well. It is presented as a set of 18 short stories, each addressing one type of challenge and the possible solution.

  1. Who is the audience and how will they benefit?

The book is a necessary read for anyone who is involved with the SME ecosytem in any manner, as it provides a very good perspective and a 360 degree view. Bankers, advisors, consultants, government officials, entrepreneurs, budding aspirants, and even management students can glean learnings from the book.

  1. How long did it take to write the book? What are the major challenges in getting a book published – especially for a first time author?

The journey took a full year, with the first six months dedicated to penning the first draft of the manuscript. Then followed a series of edits and reviews, and the hunt for a publisher, negotiations, and then the gruelling journey to fruition. It is a very arduous but satisfying journey and I think it is a way I opted to give back and share my knowledge for the sector.

The challenges for a first time author are largely around getting the content right, picking a suitable title, working through the cover design, and getting a well wisher to do a foreword for you. This is obviously apart from the long and tedious hours one needs to spend to getting the language, and semantics right.

Finding the right publisher is again a very long journey, and rebuttals, rejections and revisits are part and parcel of the journey. Can really get one down, and calls for tremendous amount of patience and resolution.

Raj Raman holds an engineering degree from NIT Rourkela and a postgraduate degree in Management (PGDM 84-86) from IIM Bangalore. He has a rich and diverse experience of over thirty years across industries from manufacturing to services, and has been instrumental in the growth and establishment of a number of these enterprises. His stints across the country have enabled him to appreciate and deal with the nuances of a diverse country like India.

He has led a number of organizations, and also served on their boards. He currently owns and runs a successful boutique consulting firm, specializing in SMEs, supporting and enabling their growth and expansion, while playing the role of a coach and mentor to the promoters and entrepreneurs.

• The book captures the diverse set of challenges and the subtle nuances of the SME ecosystem that the entrepreneurs have to deal with on a regular basis.
• The stories are presented in a readable and easy-to-comprehend format, making them simple to understand and appreciate.
• The problems and challenges in each story, are all very practical and the real issues that SMEs contend with, and the possible resolutions mentioned, are all common sense and doable.
• The book is a good read for all those who would like to either be an entrepreneur, or who would like to be part of the ecosystem that supports and boosts the S&MEs and the entrepreneurs who lead them.