The article is contributed by Gauri Bhatia - Founder and Director, The Unveiled Sagas.
Everyone dreams of igniting inspiration through their career trajectory. I too, for that matter often boasted about having only ‘twenty-five rupees in my pocket’ when I started The Unveiled Sagas. My business partner was in a financial fix, and I being the (kind-of) only child in my family had lied to my parents to start my own business. Somewhere along the line, I feel we added all this masala to make our life seem only a little bit more dramatic.
Eight years since, the dawning realization that life didn’t have to be that difficult has pushed me to take the simple(st) path, and I am here to tell you that no, the entrepreneurial journey is not filled with toil and heartbreak. It is simply a profession, just as easy as you make it.
First and foremost - don’t do it because you hate working for someone else.
Contrary to popular belief, you are not ‘boss-less’ or working on your own terms. You don’t make the rules, and you don’t have a ready team ready to drop everything for you. From working for one manager or one corporate, I have diversified my attention to working to meet my company’s revenue requirements, 110 clients’ needs, moral and political preferences, my team’s obdurate party needs and my friends’ social obligations. Not to mention, working for a start-up means that my parents can get me to run errands more often.
Despite all of this, I cannot deny the eager anticipation that overflows when we close a big client, or when the client closes a big client because of our efforts.
How do you optimize your journey then to ensure as smooth a ride as possible.
Don’t be afraid to hire- or to build an office
Optimizing cost convinced us to save on seats, and on people. For the first three years, we operated on on-call employees and garage-offices to ensure that in the time of adversity (case and point, the pandemic), our company should have clear and free-flow liquid funds.
This was one of the worst decisions we’d ever made.
I have nothing against freelancers and smaller offices, but operating with a team that barely saw your face deliberately questioned the strength of our company. There was a huge, visible difference between the first ‘manager material’ freelancer we hired, and the first ‘manager’ manager we brought on board. The first, was apprehensive about the opportunity- the second, aggressive and passionate about leading our team of barely three.
Similarly, working from the garage or the extra room at home lead to an extinguished productivity, and burnouts that frequented us more often. Rather, purchasing even a flexi-seating arrangement at a co-working space boosted inter-employee morale and trust to a level that was immovable.
Hire Young Blood
An adamant advocate of freshers, I myself was an aggressive intern when I was in college, delving into 3 jobs besides my inter-college sports and academic career.
Apart from that, a fresher is often moldable and flexible to learn. Experienced professionals often have a set mindset that launches them into a certain systemized career trajectory that can be inflexible. Ask a 20-year-old writer, however, to build a website and the only answer you’ll get is “I don’t know how to do it yet, but give me an hour and a Youtube connection”.
Also, they love power, money, and authority. Their priorities are set right, and if not them, there is no hope to set the world right.
Diversify your corporate portfolio- and don’t be afraid of seeking ‘cool’
Not only through your start-up and its internal clientele, but also through external portfolios. My business partner and I have had successful (and many failed) start-ups in travel, blockchain, manufacturing, skincare, marketing and AI.
We’re blessed to have a diversified clientele that keeps us on our toes, enabling us to seek whatever seems ‘cool’- real-life experience begins where research ends, and there’s a different kind of flair in challenging your knowledge.
Sampling through the clientele
Our first ‘other’ start-up was through a client who wanted to diversify into manufacturing. We’d written a plethora of books and articles on the topic, but to live It first-hand was a different ballgame altogether. Convincing the client of our genius didn’t take much time- in a couple of months, we had attained a fund for marketing and hiring, and used our weekends to set up his factory and his ecommerce infrastructure.
More often than not, founders love to stay within their comfort zones because of their mental block- “I can’t go international because I don’t have the funds”, “I cant expand my verticals because I don’t have the manpower”, or even “I cant get into manufacturing because I’m into marketing” (okay, the last one is me). Inhibiting experiences because of these small, mortal limitations is anticlimactic considering the profession that you’ve chosen. Entrepreneurs do what they want to, and then find a way to enable the journey.
Drop bad payers
Mental health is above everything.
Although I advocate the hustle culture, I firmly believe that incessantly torturing yourself is not the way to attain financial stability.
Constructive criticism and hard to please clients often believe in your potential, and make you push yourself until you give them what they want. Compare them to people who suddenly turn into bad payers and over-critiquing audience as soon as the invoice hits their inbox, and you have a recipe for a migraine on your hands.
I don’t often mind bargains, but after ten years in the industry and an optimized rate that I consider cheap, if I find someone who tries to cut corners, I prefer to drop them. Look for people who seek results, and not a deal, even if you are in an industry that essentially functions on discounts and quantity.
To end my argument, never forget that a start-up is the gateway to the limits of human potential, and containing childish whims like travelling the world, becoming a billionaire or even enabling world peace and hunger is nowhere near impossible. Be kind, seek innovation and test your limits.
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