Dr. Vishnu, doctor of strategic management, is NIA’s first international franchisee. He covers the territories of Guyana and Suriname in South America, with plans to expand throughout the Caribbean. Dr. Vishnu and his team believe in the power of networking and are committed to the region’s development.
What motivated you to add a Network In Action franchise to your business portfolio?
I have a pretty large team, and our vision is to make sure that our country and our region moves from being a developing region to a developed region. The only way we can do that is by providing the needed business development services allowing wealth creation that has a ripple effect.
Our company provides business development and marketing platforms. We also have a large training company, a recruiting company, and we are an ISO-certified training and coaching company. We have a lot of one-on-one clients, and I was really looking for a way to create a community—a creative community that doesn’t rely so much on me and my company. We also have a lot of folks who are not yet ready for one-on-one coaching. We have other programs, but nothing that was at the correct price point or the correct amount of value for those who wouldn’t be ready for one-on-one coaching; there was no bucket to put them in. Now, with NIA, we do have that option—a very easy option.
I really love the NIA model. It is a tool for community building and, to a large extent, I am only needed for the second Wednesday of the month; almost everything else is provided by Network In Action. That’s really what I like most about the model and what really attracted me.
As for the community, it’s as good as the time invested. I like that the agenda is very focused; we get the results out of it. People come early and people stay after, so they help with the community building themselves.
Outside of NIA, the closest thing we have for this would be the Chamber of Commerce; there is nothing else. However, it’s not that structured. They have volunteers running meetings, so sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.
What would you say to the business owner who isn’t sure if there is value in networking?
If you are just starting your business or if you want to grow, the most important thing is to start building some relationships so people can understand what you do. Those people themselves may be able to use you or feel comfortable enough to refer you to their friends and family and business acquaintances. Getting into a network that allows you those connections is of the utmost importance. I myself and our company are good examples of this. I started my business when I was nineteen. Fortunately, I had a mentor at a very young age who explained to me that your network is going to determine your net worth. So, I took every single opportunity to build those relationships. In the absence of solutions like NIA, I had to build the hard way. However, in the past twenty years of networking, I have built a significant network.
For those who want the popcorn method—building a big network very fast—if they figure out how that works, I would love to be their student. But as of today, I haven’t found that to be very successful.
I would encourage new business owners to be as efficient as possible. The way I did it was hard work compared to a solution like NIA, where you already have twenty, thirty, forty curated CEOs in a meeting with the intent of building strong relationships. That’s the easy way. It’s a smart way. I would recommend it.
With this model, we have created an opportunity for what might be one of the biggest deals ever for our country. Someone in the oil and gas business in Texas is coming here to meet with some of our government officials, and this deal is likely to be able to bring a really big US-provider to our country. All of this happened because of a networking Zoom call.
What do you think is the future of networking?
If I look very far into the future, then I see Star Trek stuff happening, where you and I could just get beamed up and we go out on our networking session on a different planet just for that purpose—maybe NIA-Pluto or something. Other than that, I do see that technology will become more pervasive. The tool that we have in the app, for example, makes it so easy to connect the correct folks and keep track of all the connections made as well.
But we’re still human beings. I think COVID proved that although we have developed so many means of continuing communication, we still need in-person meetings. People are really, really happy to be back in person and meeting each other after the absence of in-person networking. So, I think that will not go away. But we do need to supplement with the needed technology.
What member-success story stands out to you?
We have an accountant and a lawyer in our group who have been able to solve so many problems for the members of the group. In many cases, people don’t trust a new accountant or a new lawyer very fast. But because they are in the same NIA group and there is already that level of trust between them and myself as a Community Builder, and already that level of trust between themselves and the NIA organization, they’re more open to discussing the problems that they’re facing with a new accountant or a new lawyer within our group. So many of our members have been able to get really good advice from them. That advice has allowed those members to not just grow their businesses but also to start referring each other much faster, which I think is a big success. Had that not happened, people would have still been struggling with the financial and legal issues that their businesses were facing.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about buying a franchise?
You basically have two routes when it comes to building a business: either you build something from scratch or you buy a proven business model. The only time it makes sense to build something from scratch is if the thing that you’re thinking about really doesn’t exist. That isn’t likely. It would really have to be something unique. Otherwise, it’s likely that someone else has already figured it out and that someone else has already invested a lot of time, energy, and money developing the brand and developing the systems that are needed.
I wanted a really good community-building tool that developed relationships. As I did the research, I found out that this exists and the model is evolved. If I were to start this from scratch, it would probably take me five to ten years to get to the point that NIA is at today. I could think about it and say, “Well, yes, I’ll do it myself, and I will own 100 percent of it.” But it will take me ten years to get there. Or, I can start today. That’s what I did. I got started in my community immediately using the NIA tools. On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with the money you get out based on the work that you put into your NIA franchise? I’m a doctor of strategic management, so I only pursue tens. So, in this case, it is a ten.
On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your ability to still control your schedule and work on your action-coaching business and the many other things you have going on?
I would say a ten because, as I mentioned earlier, I do have a team. Everyone on my team is focused on their specific area. I would recommend to new franchisees coming in to consider starting off with a business plan that includes a team. It doesn’t mean that you couldn’t do it all on your own. If this was the only thing I did, yes, I probably would have time to do the coaching and the finance and the marketing activities. But I prefer to work like a surgeon and, for me, the surgical part of Network In Action is me showing up on the second week of the month for ninety minutes. I have team members who can focus on everything else. In addition, one of our responsibilities a business owners is to create employment. Why be a business owner who only benefits themselves? Create employment so other people can also benefit from you being in business.
On a scale of one to ten, how much satisfaction do you get out of the value you’re able to give back to your country and the people who are trying to build their businesses there?
It’s a ten because the more people come together, the more synergies are derived, the more they help each other, the more the businesses get efficient, the more they earn, the more taxes they pay—the faster my country wins. I haven’t seen a downside as yet.