Nikhil Rungta is the Managing Director for Intuit in India. A business-builder, start-up survivor, growth hacker and a passionate storyteller, Nikhil has over 20 years of work experience. He has held senior business leadership roles across Sales, Marketing, Product Management and Ecommerce with large corporates and startups like Shaw Wallace, Yatra.com, Housing.com, Reliance Jio and Google. Small Is Big caught up with him on GST related queries from the perspective of small businesses and the road ahead for Intuit in India.
SIB: Intuit’s QuickBooks is a popular product amongst Indian SMBs – what is the unique value proposition that this product offers especially post GST implementation?
NR: Intuit QuickBooks is World’s No.1 Cloud Accounting software. Our unique value proposition is that we help small business owners be in complete control of their business finances without having to be an expert at financial management or accounting. Indian version of QuickBooks is fully localized and updated to help small business run a GST compliant business. We are cloud based software and small businesses can be on top of their business even on the go through our mobile app.
SIB: How crucial is the Indian SMB market for Intuit Global and how customized is QuickBooks to the needs of Indian SMBs in particular?
NR: There are 51 million small businesses in the Indian market, about 20 per cent of them (10 million) are tech savvy and ready to adopt digital technologies like QuickBooks. This makes India a critical market for global expansion for Intuit. QuickBooks has been in the Indian market since 2012 and the Indian version is fully localized to the business and compliance needs of the small businesses here.
SIB: Post GST implementation, how has Intuit been helping small business owners get their books in order and be in compliance with the law? What are the teething issues being faced by SMBs?
NR: QuickBooks is fully customized to the needs of Indian small businesses and is helping them to create GST compliant invoices and reports. We are specially focusing on small businesses who were previously using excel or Google sheets to manage their business finances.
To help them transition to the GST regime, we are offering a 30-day free trial, where we help them automate their finance and accounting workflows, focus on growing their business while being GST compliant. What’s more, we are offering unlimited storage on the cloud for their business data so that they do not have to keep taking backups every day.
Initial few weeks of GST launch, we got a lot of queries around how GST will impact different industries and how can softwares like QuickBooks help them run their business as usual. The number of such queries have gone down considerably and we feel people are gradually getting used to the new way of running their business in the post GST era.
SIB: The primary intent of GST was to improve the ease of doing business. But the SMB community seems to suggest that business has become more painful for them given the levels of compliance and frequency involved. What’s your view?
NR: We strongly believe that GST will definitely improve the ease of doing business in the long run. We feel it is short term pain versus long term gain. GST has not only simplified tax structure it is also introducing lot of transparency in doing business transactions.
Also, it is early days, any reform of this magnitude takes some time for people to understand and adopting. Government has been very open to feedback from the industry and trying to take quick decisions to revise the rules to make it more convenient. Moreover, once GST is fully implemented it will be completely digital. A lot of the confusion around levels of compliance and frequency of filing will be taken care owing to the automation.
We also feel that during this initial phase there is a huge need to drive awareness and education around GST. We have initiated a GST learning center with all information around GST implementation, plus we have also been running webinars for our customers with GST experts.
SIB: Digitization is a must for GST implementation. Given that India’s SMB sector is largely unorganized and internet penetration is fairly low, how is the uploading of invoices and GST compliance going to take place for these enterprises?
NR: Around 30% of small businesses are connected to technology in one way or another and they will be the first to start digitizing their business by moving to a cloud based software like QuickBooks, which will help them in being GST compliant.
For the remaining 70% small businesses, the Government has introduced an offline Excel Utility, in which they can capture their business finance details and then just upload the same to the GSTN portal either directly or with the help of a CA or a GST Suvidha Provider (GSP).
SIB: Do you see more and more small businesses moving towards automation in accounting processes? What are the emerging trends?
NR: Yes, we have seen a many fold increase in demand and interest for QuickBooks post the launch of GST. This clearly points towards the trend that more and more small businesses are looking at automating their business finances and accounting. Interestingly we are seeing a big interest from small businesses who had been using excel spreadsheets or just basic pen and paper.
Businesses can see the importance of going digital as it will help them save time, ensure they maximize their input tax credit (ITC) and hence feel confident about running their business as usual.
SIB: It has been over 3 months since GST implementation, by when do you see the benefits kicking in for small businesses that have made the investment in technology as well as financial services?
NR: Businesses are starting to see the benefits almost immediately. For example, if you were an architect, previously while you had to pay service tax, you could not offset it against the tax you paid on your supplies/expenses. But now these businesses can claim input tax credit on office rent, office supplies and any other item they procure to run their business. We are also seeing that with features like reminders and invoice tracking on QuickBooks, our small business customers are able to get paid faster.
SIB: Congratulations on Intuit India being ranked as the number 1 Great Place to Work at in 2017. What is it that small businesses can learn from Intuit about creating a great place to work?
NR: It is a great honour to be ranked the No.1 Best Place to work in India this year. Few key things that have helped us achieve the same are: we put the welfare and interest of our employees ahead of customers, partners and shareholders. Secondly, one of our True North goals is to create an environment where employees are motivated to do the best work of their lives. Thirdly, at Intuit all leaders practice the concept of boundary-less leadership which enables them to find ways to unleash the collective potential of employees, while channeling the collective energy on a common set of desired outcomes. Overall, we believe happy employees lead to happy customers which lead to happy shareholders.
SIB: How do you drive the culture and sense of belonging among your employees? Which of these qualities can a small enterprise emulate in order to attract smart talent given that most qualified people want to work only with big brands?
NR: Intuit offers every employee an opportunity to grow, discover, and expand their personal and professional horizons. We strive to create an environment where our employees are empowered to deliver the best work of their lives.
Employees can spend up to 10% of their time on unstructured time projects. This can include spending time working on a new product, participating in innovation forums designed to share ideas across the company, or providing the mobility to move to a new job down the hall or on the other side of the globe. The diverse background of Intuit’s employees provides the valuable perspectives necessary to fuel innovation and global business. With a diverse workforce, the company promotes an environment where differences are valued and respected.
The company’s culture encourages individuals and teams to work collaboratively across its product ecosystem with shared priorities, success metrics and accountability. Often working in small teams, employees form strong relationships and solve problems together.
SIB: Going forward what’s the next innovation that the SMB community in India can expect from Intuit?
NR: Intuit is one of the few companies across the world that has been able to survive for over three decades. One of the big secrets of this success has been our ability to spot the next trends in customer needs and then being able to disrupt our products before anyone else does. We moved from being a desktop first to online first to mobile first to now AI (artificial intelligence) first.
So, going forward, we will not just help our customers seamlessly manage their business finances, we will be help them accelerate the growth of their business by proactively sharing business insights which have been distilled using advanced technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence and the learnings we have had from millions of small businesses on our platform, we define it as ‘use the power of many to drive the prosperity of one’.
SIB: As a business leader, what is your personal mantra for success?
NR: My mantra is ‘Obsessive Customer Devotion’. I believe in deep customer empathy and then building a business customer back.