On Management

What a Broken Shoelace taught me about Starting Up


We don’t expect things to happen at the worst possible moment, we expect them to happen (in spite of numerous tough lessons) when we want them to happen. And that’s where the mind games begin. We convince ourselves that the best time to solve the small nagging issues is yet to come and that it’s better to focus on the bigger things that seemingly matter most. We keep trudging along in the same shoes wanting the shoelaces to stay put for as long as possible, as if we hold their strings together. Just that- we don’t.

Little Things Hold Big Things Together

When you run, you don’t want the shoelace to split open, you don’t want the sole to give away and you don’t want a pebble to make you stumble. A nut bolt makes a bicycle fall apart, birds make aeroplanes crash. An aching tooth ruins your day and we take most of these things for granted while chasing the sun on a daily basis. Till that shoelace gave away, I had no idea how to replace it.

Do you have a solution to the smallest of problems?

Spending an hour of time (which I didn’t have the other day) going from door to door of the best shops around didn’t a yield a solution. The store that sells my shoe brand and the ones of similar stature didn’t stock shoelaces. They didn’t know who did. A perfectly good pair lying useless at my feet because the best stores in town didn’t stock an essential component of what they sold. Till that day, I had ‘assumed’ that solution is a drive away. Alas, it wasn’t.

Humble service being the most helpful.

The big stores proved unhelpful, and the attitude wasn’t helpful either. I found solace with a humble cobbler sitting by the street. He fixed the shoelaces, cleaned my shoes (that was a pleasant surprise) all for a way smaller amount than I was willing to pay. It was clear that the big brands don’t mean much unless the people leading from the front live their values as well. The cobbler had no brand, was his own boss and his life depended on how he treated his customers- regular or not- unlike the employees at a big store. That made all the difference.


  • Taking care of small things that run our business. Issues of key people which keep them going, chosen vendors and their pay cheques, taxes & accounts – the list is unending.
  • Since we build our business ground up, we have ample of opportunity of ensuring consistent customer service even as we grow big. It’s simply about our employees, how they view their jobs, whom are they taught to serve (not just paying customers but ideally all humans who interact) and what they believe in.
  • Prepare for the worst from day one. Should have replaced my shoelace the moment I felt it would give away!


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