Deepali Khanna, Owner, Enlightenment

Saturday July 18, 2009,

5 min Read

Deepali Khanna comes from a family of entrepreneurs, and with passion and drive for success being qualities more intrinsic than acquired, running an independent enterprise seemed an inherent drive. She started Enlightenment, an Indore-based development consultancy specialising in training, in 1999 in form of a small institute covering a wide spectrum of self-development modules for students. But interesting is the way in which the company came about and entered the corporate world. Deepali received a prospective student’s parent one day, who inquired about the training classes and was so impressed with the course contents that he asked if she was interested in conducting a training workshop in a leading corporate house, where he was working as a HR Manager. Saying a yes to the proposal was Deepali’s first step towards corporate training and that’s how the journey began. Today, the company has a qualified and experienced team, comprising seven members and five associates.

“We are a corporate training and development consultancy. We live by the philosophy that learning is a perennial process. With a holistic approach towards enhancement of structured skills and personal and professional enrichment, Enlightenment provides a plethora of learning and development modules. We facilitate learning through innovative and interesting techniques and ensure individual participation,” Deepali explained. “Our team of highly qualified and experienced trainers from various fields provide value services like helping customers identify problems, post-training follow up and counselling, among others,” she added.

The fact that the company offers tailor-made programmes and review sessions to address the requirements of every participant sets it apart from other enterprises in the arena. Also unique is its business model, which is simple yet yielding. It works on a one-way and two-way tie ups with consultants, and also has its own team of associates at different locations for generating business. Deepali plans to enlarge its team and collaborators, and add more programmes to the course for scaling up the business. 

“Entrepreneurial skills run in my blood. My father was a first-generation entrepreneur, who left his paternal inheritance, for setting up a coke briquette plant, which was the pioneer plant in Madhya Pradesh. After his demise in the year 1987, my mother took charge of the business in face of an array of adversities. She was also awarded for the same by the International Friendship Society of India. Now, my younger brother is an industrialist and has ventured into manufacturing of steel,” said Deepali while talking about why she took up this venture and her journey so far.

Despite being a confident and self-motivated entrepreneur, everyday was like a challenge for Deepali which she overcame with prayers and patience. And it was the support and encouragement she received from her family, friends and team mates that helped her stay resolute about her goals.

“I quit my enterprise in 2002 when my associates moved out due to their personal constraints and took up jobs once again. Although the jobs added volumes to my personal growth in terms of knowledge, experience and network, I, at times, felt that I should have outlived the initial challenges. But no regrets,” said Deepali when asked about the biggest mistake she made as an amateur entrepreneur. 

While talking in details about the pitfalls, Deepali said, “I started the enterprise as a student training institute along with a friend who moved out within a few months. I partnered with another associate who also moved out in 2002 because of some health reasons. Left with no option, I quit too and joined ICICI Bank in a good position. But jobs weren’t for me. I restarted my enterprise in June 2008 and have been running it successfully till now.”

One of the biggest achievements for the company is the training programme it conducted for employees of Indo Rama Synthetics Ltd in 1999. The entire workshop was appreciated so much by the senior officials of the company that they asked Deepali to arrange for a few programmes for the wives of the employees and then for their children too.

Deepali candidly admitted that there were times when the going got tough, but said they were a learning experience and made her even more determined about making her venture a success. She even shared a moment that is very close to her heart and regards as more rewarding than any awards. “When I was into student training, a practicing psychologist referred her patient to me. The patient was a 20-year-old girl from a family of highly accomplished professionals. She had a couple of serious behavioural problems because of which she became very aloof. I spent around 45 hours with her in a span of one month talking to her, trying to understand her problems and resolving them. After a month, the psychologist called up to say that she had observed some highly positive changes in the girl. Her mother’s eyes welled up with tears when she came to thank me…I will never forget this incident,” she said.

Tips for budding entrepreneurs — Be well prepared when it comes to market knowledge, emerging trends and competition; Sharpen your axe everyday. Don’t become overconfident with success or demoralised with failure or criticism. Learn from your mistakes and have the courage to face failures. Only patience and persistence can overcome difficulties.

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