Managing Director of Continuserve Pradeep Khurana has been involved in the foundation of several successful companies. Currently, he serves as the managing director of ContinuServe, a company he has co-founded. For most of his career, he has had a hand in “building and managing tech-enabled services businesses.”
At ContinuServe, Pradeep Khurana oversees his team as they provide “outsourced back-office solutions to private equity-backed portfolio companies with a focus on carve-outs.” The company spends its time and resources performing many behind-the-scenes tasks for companies, including “paying vendors, sending out customer bills, closing the books.” To complete these tasks, the company deploys technology and expert workers.
Pradeep Khurana and ContinuServe focus on companies that earn revenue ranging from $50 million to $5 billion. They also cover companies in almost every industry, from “manufacturing, restaurant/retail, and logistics/distribution.” Also, the company enjoys a close relationship with “a number of PE [private equity] firms,” since they help these firms “optimize the back-office operations of their portfolio companies.”
Prior to ContinuServe, Pradeep Khurana founded Surebridge Inc.. Founded in 1996, Surebridge became a pioneer in the field of “technology as a service industry.” Aside from being the founder, he also worked as the company’s chairman, co-president, and co-CEO. He also joined the founding team of i-Cube, “a systems integration firm headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts,” which has since filed a successful IPO.
I think it’s important to determine what the critical path is for the success of your business. Pradeep Khurana, Continuserve
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Pradeep Khurana: I think what makes us stand out is our commitment to client service. One situation that really stands out is when we had a client that had a major internal network problem a construction company had accidently cut a major network trunk. So, we were not able to log into the back-office system for almost 5 days which caused a massive backlog of transactions to pile up. But we were coming to their quarter close. So, our team had to work 18 hours days for almost a week with many employees sometimes sleeping in the office. Again, this was a problem that was caused by some external factor, but we knew how critical our work was to the client and went above and beyond.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Pradeep Khurana: I think it’s important to determine what the critical path is for the success of your business. That will allow you to focus and not waste time and energy on dead-ends.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Pradeep Khurana: I had a mentor who was a retired executive from a very large organization. He taught me a lot (by example) of doing the right thing even if it might affect you negatively on a personal level.
A great company is one that delivers something exceptional to its customers and all the underpinnings of what it takes to deliver that something special are reinforced by the way its people behave.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Pradeep Khurana: I think a good company is one that literally has just okay, mediocre metrics (margins, growth, employee retention, etc.). This mediocrity is usually because there is nothing special or great about its culture and organization. A great company is one that delivers something exceptional to its customers and all the underpinnings of what it takes to deliver that something special are reinforced by the way its people behave.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Pradeep Khurana: I don’t know if that’s always a bad thing to take a break and reassess the situation as long as you continue to focus on what can make you great. In fact, sometimes you need to take a step back to take a jump forward. Instead of focusing on ‘growth’ I would ask the question, how can we serve our customers better. Follow that advice, and all other good things will follow.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Pradeep Khurana: In order to keep things stable, make sure you are in constant communication with your clients so you understand what their situation might be. Often, you need to be nimble to adjust in a way where you can support them during a tough situation. Tough situations can also create opportunities. Clients may need a new approach or may reevaluate their vendor situations, so there is a chance to grow the business.
Keeping engaged is critical, not just to let them know you care but also to let them guide you with their feedback.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Pradeep Khurana: I think keeping a pulse on your current clients/customers is tough. It’s often easier to focus on the next new customer as opposed to your existing customer base. Keeping engaged is critical, not just to let them know you care but also to let them guide you with their feedback.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Pradeep Khurana: You can’t create a sustainable brand just off of marketing. A sustainable brand needs to be supported by all facets of the organization — how you attract employees, who you attract/hire/retain, the processes and technology you use (both internal and external facing), the values you espouse and sustain through example. So, my advice is, don’t create a fake, temporary ‘brand’ image. Focus on the nuts and bolts of your organization and the brand will follow.
The most common mistake I have seen business leaders make is getting distracted and not knowing where to focus. Pradeep Khurana
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Pradeep Khurana: The most common mistake I have seen business leaders make is getting distracted and not knowing where to focus. When you feel this way, focus on your clients/customers and how to serve them best. Let that be your guide.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Pradeep Khurana: What a great question. It’s going to sound cliché, but I think it would be a movement to get people to recognize how much each of us has in common with one another in terms of experiencing the joys and sorrows of the human condition. The thought of that helps me to think of all humans as my brothers and sisters. I would like to think that such recognition would help us form a better, more peaceful world.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!