Hemu Ramiah (the Landmark founder), now a management consultant and venture capitalist) redefined the business landscape with her own rules. Growing a bookstore business into a comprehensive store for books, accessories, music albums, and much more, she showed us the possibilities.
Also her ability to foresee a business proposition out of a bookstore when she was running a small hotel bookstore venture or timing her exit from the business when her daughter needed her attention set her a class apart. It is all about setting your priorities right. This inspiring woman entrepreneur engaged in a telephone chat with chief evangelist of YourStory Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy for Women’s Day.
Glass ceiling for women: Does it exist any more?
I don’t think so. It does not exist in my industry. But I think it is industry-specific. It definitely didn’t and still doesn’t exist.
You were an inspiration for many women to take up to business. What were the challenges from your family when you started business?
Nobody in my family had ever been in business. My father was in the army and my brother had taken up a job. It was something new and everybody was pretty supportive.
What inspired you to found this business? How did you scale it?
I wanted to work in a bookstore and started with a small-format bookstore. I ran a chain of hotel bookshops. But I was frustrated that I couldn’t keep half the books I wanted to and so converted the hotel stores into local stores. When I started the local store, I also realized that there was a vacuum for selection of backlists, which no bookshop kept. Most bookstores kept textbooks with a smattering of fiction and such stuff. I wanted to have a book shop with no textbooks and turn it upside down, which was crucial for success of the bookstore.
Balancing work and life for women. Any advice?
You have to be firm about your role play. I was very clear. That helped me balance. If there is ailment in the family and your child requires you, that’s one issue. But if there is a wedding in the family, for which you should take off work, that is another. You should be clear for which you would take off and for which you wouldn’t. Then people understand over a period of time that you have a work ethic. Such work ethic should be clearly communicated to everyone at office as well as at home. You should also be clear about where you will compromise and where you will not. Because balancing involves a bit of compromise.
Women taking to entrepreneurship…
Not as much as I would like to see. Honestly not much at all. I don’t know why.
Message on Women’s Day
Do creatively what you want to do and nothing should stop you. Women keep the family first and don’t pay attention to their own selves and their intellect. That needs to change. Satisfy your intellectual capacity and you as an individual are also important. Enjoy what you do and don’t do anything for money. That’s the worst thing you could do. You are compromising your soul if you do and there is a huge price to pay. You are happy to increase your material life. In the long run, you discover that you have done wrong because you haven’t enjoyed what you have done. That’s very critical. Money is not that important really.
Your favorite book…
Lots. Not a single book. I am a book buff, movie buff, and a music buff. I read multiple books at a time. But I would advise people to read. You cannot pick up a trend unless you read.
So needless to say what made Hemu Ramiah successful. Taking a cue from her, tread a path that no one has attempted and enjoy what you do. Your life would become a lot more interesting. This applies equally to men and women.
We heartfully thank Hemu Ramiah for the honest appraisal of what she thinks.