When you're an entrepreneur, every day is a different battle. Every day, you wake up and tackle multiple challenges - some old and some new. Although every day is important, November 19 is a bit more so as it is the official Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.
On this occasion, we reached out to some leading women entrepreneurs of India to ask what were some of the things they had learnt in their journey, especially the most important piece entrepreneurial advice that they have received.
We learnt some very interesting things - from following one’s heart and intuition, to never taking ones PR seriously and to definitely not let gender get in the way. Here’s what we discovered:
Smita Mishra, Founder and CEO, Fandoro
Started in January 2018 in New Delhi, Fandoro is a platform for promoting individual social responsibility through impact gifting.
As an entrepreneur, Smita feels the best business advice she ever received was, “Run the business with the customer money and not the investor money. It not only took away our pressure to find an investor and unnecessary marketing spend but also helped us focus better on our own customers and our product-market fit. This advice has been given to me by multiple leaders but I clearly remember Sanjeev Bikhchandani saying it for sure.”
Another piece of advice, that she received from Pravin Jadhav, and has never forgotten - “Never believe your own PR.”
Niharika Verma - Founder, BonOrganik
In 2012, Niharika started BonOrganik in Bengaluru. It's an ecommerce portal that connects people through clothing and allows individuals to dress alike by providing matching apparels in 30 categories.
It was her mentor, Sameer Garde (President of Cisco India) who gave her the most valuable advice. He said, “You must be able to translate your passion into long term and short term goals, put a number (financial figure) and timeline against each goal and align all your business strategies to meet these goals. Hire the right people who are fit to execute this plan, know your next hire and make sure you are aiming big.”
Meenakshi Gupta Jain, Founder and CEO, Helper4U
Meenakshi started Helper4U in 2016, in Mumbai to have an employment exchange on phone to hire ABCDE (Ayah, Bai, Cook, Driver and Everyone similar).
Meenakshi shares from her own experience of how easy it is to lose track of time and miss out on what you need to focus on and what you need to delegate.
She says, “As an entrepreneur, we often fall into the trap of doing unimportant things during the day so that at the end of the day, we can go to bed feeling productive. If you look back, you will realise that in doing all this, you have not achieved anything worthwhile for your business. All you have achieved is the feeling of being busy, and happy that you saved some money, especially when your business is not yet earning enough. Don’t do that."
"Learn to delegate tasks that don’t give you an RoI for your time. As the founder, you should focus on what only you can do best for your business: strategising and executing your plan. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Even time spent in thinking and reading is better than time spent in mundane tasks at work.”
She says it was her husband who gave her this piece of advice when she had just set up her office and she says how he realised, “I was spending a lot of my time doing housekeeping/admin work so that my staff was comfortable, managing accounts when one of the staff could do it, proofreading all work of my staff even though it was not needed at the moment and so on. He got my focus back on building new alliances, talking to users and improving our offerings.”
Shikha Suman, Founder and CEO, Medimojo
Based in Delhi, Shikha founded Medimojo in 2016. Her company is a SaaS-based personalised patient engagement platform for healthcare providers.
The best practical advice Sikha says she has come across is, “For a B2B business, don’t go behind big brands in the initial phase if you have a market where you can reach to smaller customers. Dealing with managers in large corporates is always difficult than dealing with owners. Build your initial sales pipeline with an increased customer base of midsize instead of focussing on one large, which is going to take all your time. Same goes with government. Till you can have a dedicated resource for government, do not focus on that.”
Vidhu Goyal, Co-founder and CEO, WONK
In 2016, Vidhu Goyal co-founded WONK in 2016, in New Delhi. It is an expert tutor discovery, booking and financing app with 30,000 tutors and 20,000 parents and students.
Vidhu’s says she found the best entrepreneurial advice from the Bhagwad Gita.
“The Bhagwad Gita says, ‘There is only one thought of a resolute nature. Many-branched and endless are the thoughts of irresolute’. This has helped me stay on course during my entrepreneurship journey. As there are many ups and downs in a women entrepreneur’s life, it is imperative that one should never lose her focus and believe in the potential of their idea.”
Natasha Mahindra, Yoga therapist, Founder of Anam Cara Yoga Retreats
Started in 2012 by Natasha Manindra, Anam Cara Yoga Retreats takes people on yoga adventures. These experiences allow people to reconnect with nature and in turn, reconnect with themselves. It is based out of Goa.
Since Natasha’s line of work is in healing and transformation, she says, “Sometimes it makes a business transaction tricky, especially when dealing with money. How do you quantify a life-changing experience into money?”
But Natasha knows how to deal with it. One of the best business advice she received was to trust her inner voice and intuition.
She says, “I do this by finding time for yourself, where you spend time with yourself allowing the inner voice to show itself. It is very important to practice what you preach, and as a therapist and someone who runs a wellness travel company, it’s been important to have my own practice and discipline which has helped greatly in tapping into that intuition.”
Aditi Balbir, Founder and CEO, V Resorts
Aditi is based out of Delhi and started her entrepreneurial journey in 2014. She runs a boutique hospitality chain managing over 150 small-to-medium-scale properties across 22 Indian states focussing on micro-tourism and unique offbeat experiences.
Aditi says that the best advice she received was, “To build a business that has a community impact built into it by design and not simply by intent alone. What this meant practically for me and for V Resorts was to build a business around the local community where the socio-economic impact is a direct result of business growth. When community goals become part of CSR initiatives, they are always treated as an aside, thus eventually alienating one of the chief stakeholders in the business ecosystem - the local community.”
Nishita Mantry, Founder and CEO, My Life Transcript
My Life Transcript provides business coaching for women entrepreneurs and was started in 2009 by Nishita Mantry in Mumbai.
Nishita shares that the best advice about running a business she received was from her grandfather. He told me, "The biggest investment in the business is investing in relationships because people don’t buy products, they buy the value or the essence of the person or intent behind the product."
"When people buy a product or service from you; it’s not a mere transaction, they are looking for long-term connections. People like to connect with people who have similar values and beliefs. They look for people who are honest, reliable, genuine, responsible and focused. Your aim should be to add value through your offerings. If you can understand your audience and address their concerns; your battle is won.”
To this, she also adds his other important advice, “ ‘Sell with Generosity’ - go above and beyond, money will follow.”
Ruchi Kakkar, Founder and CEO, Anokherang
Based out of Delhi, Anokherang is a platform of ethnic wear in multiple sizes including plus sizes. Started in 2016, Ruchi says that the best advice she received sounds filmy but it's sound advice.
“‘Zindagi mein agar kuch banna ho, kuch haasil karna ho, kuch jeetna ho, toh hamesha apne dil ki suno’ - sounds very filmy but the advice has worked very well for us. We have always listened to our heart in every interaction we have had with the people we work with, including our lovely and endearing repeat customers, our tireless hardworking employees and our highly supportive suppliers and vendors, all of whom have helped us tremendously in getting where we are so far in our journey!”
Himani Mishra, Co-Founder and CEO, Brand Radiator
Himani started her digital marketing and IT company in 2018 in Patna.
For her, the focus is on people. It was her mentor at Telenor whose advice she holds dear.
“‘People First Approach' - be it for the employees, clients or home. Businesses or homes are created by people, and hence we must always share the stage of success with them and shoulder their needs. The jargon is ‘revenue sharing with your employees’, which makes them feel a part of the success and gives them a reason to put in higher efforts.”
Aditi Chaurasia, CEO, EngineerBabu
Based out of Indore, EngineerBabu is an IT product and services company that was started in 2014. Aditi shares two pieces of advice that stuck with her.
“Do business like a business away from all the fancy jargons of the startup world. The one who does business with the mindset of doing it with profit and reinvestment will survive. Because in the end, what matters is the money in the bank account and the growth your company achieved. This was told to me by Nemesh Singh, Founder and CEO of Appointy.”
Aditi also follows another mantra - “Business knows no gender and knows no boundaries. A founder can do anything be it sales, tech or marketing you just need to believe in yourself and stay consistent. Don’t create boundaries for yourself, explore all the possibilities and opportunities."
How you do business, what you do to nurture and grow it matters. On the way every important thing you learn and apply matters. So tell us what was the best piece of business advice you ever received?