Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, better known as Dhirubhai Ambani, is not an unheard name to an Indian. “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs” a person with this kind of firy instinct with in and who inspired by millions of Indians. He laid the foundation of Reliance Industries, a petrochemicals, communications, power, and textiles conglomerate and the only privately owned Indian company in the Fortune 500. As the founder of India’s largest private firm and second largest publicly traded company in the country, Reliance Industries, Dhirubhai has undoubtedly made enormous capital in his lifetime. He could do all this just because he could dream, and dream big. He started his journey with only Re 1 and while he has created wealth, it not just for him but equally for his thousands of shareholders. A great man who started from scratch, followed his dream and made it true.
The life of Dhirubhai Ambani was rich enough to provide anyone with facts that can bust the popular myths people have about success. Dhirubhai could have given tens of excuses and no one would have blamed him but he choose to be brave and that’s why he achieved his goals. He said, you can either be brave enough to peruse your dreams or you can join most people by finding an excuse that sounds realistic enough ,even though its not, then believing in it.
Dhirubhai belonged to a very poor family. He was a very bright student and wanted to complete his graduation. But his dream to pursue the studies melted down when he had to go to Aden, Yemen to make a living for his family. Dhirubhai started working as a clerk with A.Besse & Co., the biggest trading firm of the region. Dhirubhai made good use of this opportunity and learnt much about commodity trading, imports and exports, wholesale merchandising, marketing, and sales and distribution. He learnt about currency trading from the people of various nationalities whom he met at the port and mastered accounting at a Gujarati trading firm. He soon discovered that he had a natural flair for speculative trading. The understanding of the market trends that he developed over the years and his insatiable desire to be successful, made him the king of speculative trading.
At the boarding house where he lived with another twenty-five or so young Gujarati clerks and office boys, he devoted long hours of the night mastering English grammar, essay writing, current affairs and a host of subjects that took his fancy from week to week. He was the first to snatch the English, Gujarati and Hindi daily papers and weeklies as soon as they arrived by the ship ever day. He also devoured all sorts of books, magazines and journals the passengers arriving from various European and Indian ports left in the ships and at the offices of various shipping agents.
Through restricted means, he was always figuring out and mastering the ways to advance his knowledge about the nuances of the trade. Although he was sailing in the ocean full of opportunities but with lack of money, he thought of generating and building up capital on his own. It started with borrowing the money from all available sources and then increasing it multi-fold with the unparalleled insight and I-can-do-it-attitude.
Everyone knows that he was merely a petrol pump attendant in the initial days. But the dream of building up a oil refinery had shaped up from their only. Ambani 1In the late 1950s he had to take a decision of coming back to India or settling down in London and has an easy life. He weighed his options and ascertained India as a land of opportunities in the coming years with the developments happening in every sphere. India was ready to take the shape Nehru’s dream.
Sensing a good opportunity in Textile business, Dhirubhai started his first Textile mill. Setting up his first textile mill in Naroda, Ahemdabad, was the biggest hurdle of his life. With other mill owners opposing the sale of Vimal, the polyester brand, Dhirubhai and his team of highly motivated sales personnel cut through the middlemen (wholesalers) and went straight to the retailers. The popularity of the fabric and the persuasiveness of Dhirubhai led a number of retailers to sell “Only Vimal”. A sound marketing strategy backed up the product and all of India was soon wearing textiles that came out of the Reliance factory. He equipped his factory with the best technology that could scale up with the rise in demand.
The growth of Reliance Industries was unprecedented and of the likes that had not been imagined until then. Reliance went from a turnover of Rs. 70 crore in the mid-1970s to being a Rs. 75,000-crore empire in 2002. High finance was one of Dhirubhai’s key areas of success. He raised a great deal of money by issuing six series of convertible debentures and then converting them to equity shares at a premium. Reliance later diversified into energy, power, infrastructure services, retail, capital markets, telecommunications, logistics and information technology. Dhirubhai never went to any business school, rather gathered all knowledge by reading and applying it in actual business environment. Learning, applying, failing, evolving, re-applying, failing again.