10 top women entrepreneurs share the best business advice they’ve ever receivedTanvi Dubey & Rekha Balakrishnan
Building a solid business depends on sound advice from people who motivate and encourage you to do your best.
It’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Day today.
The road to entrepreneurial success is not always easy. The path is often strewn with challenges, filled with doubts and fear, and women have to battle stereotypes and high expectations on their way to the top. Access to funding, finding the work-life balance, male domination, the need to conform, lack of an efficient support system are some of the disparities women entrepreneurs face today.
But despite these challenges, women are making their mark in the business world, and in every conceivable industry on, can think of. They are going places like never before, growing and scaling their businesses, and catching up with their male counterparts.
And in this journey, each one of them has been inspired by a mentor, an adviser, by famous personalities or simply by a well-wisher. For them, inspiration comes from sound business advice, that has given them different perspectives and made a huge difference.
Here, 10 Indian women entrepreneurs share the best business advice they have ever received. And they are inspirational indeed!
Naiyya Saggi, CEO & Founder of BabyChakra, an online platform connecting Indian parents to the best services for their babies, says, “Here's something that I truly believe in and was advice given to me by industry veteran Arun Nanda.
When hiring take your time. Choose the right fit. Check thoroughly for culture, skills and attitude. Make the hire meet multiple people in the team. It’s critical for a company to hire right and, over time, it is more art than science. Cultivate the art since as an entrepreneur, being a good judge and a true champion of your team is one of the most important roles you'll ever play.
Equally, when someone is not aligned with the values and culture of the team, it is better to let that person move on and explore the right options for him/her. How you let someone leave with their dignity and respect intact is also important. It speaks to your maturity as an entrepreneur and as a leader who can be entrusted with the professional careers of people in your team.”
Arpita Ganesh, Founder of Buttercups, an innovative lingerie brand, says: “Think big.. in 2011, one of the first investors I met told me this.. it changed my perception of Buttercups from a lingerie store to a bra brand.”
Alicia Souza, who pencilled in a career as an illustrative entrepreneur, says, “Probably the one recently that resonated with me was 'People buy your joy' by Lilla Rogers. And the one that I'm totally working towards because God knows I worry about how the world will end if I know I took a selfie (I'm old-minded like that), is 'Don't overthink shit'.”
Samara Mahindra, Founder of CARER, who has ensured that cancer patients receive more than just medical treatment at an affordable cost, says: “The best business advice I have ever received is: ‘Listen to everyone’s free advice because you’ll get a lot of it, nod politely and then do exactly what you believe to be right’.”
Aditi Gupta, Founder of Menstrupedia, who has been working relentlessly to educate society about menstrual health and hygiene, says, “The best business advice I have received was from Naru Narayanan (ReelBox India Entertainment), and I remember Vijay Anand (Startup Centre) connecting us. It was a phone call and he told us, ‘if you are doing a business that involves a book (comic book to teach girls about menstrual health), do not borrow money’. It was good business advice. We always generated revenue by selling it. Even when we needed money for the development of the book, we resorted to crowdfunding. So not borrowing money for making the first version of our product was one of best business ideas I’ve received, and I am grateful for Mr Naru for that.”
Meghna Saraogi, Founder of Styledotme, which helps you get instant fashion advice from your friends when you really need it, says: “We really struggled a lot, the kind of investments and valuations we wanted was not happening. So I think the best advice I’ve got so far is, first, the client is the most important person. Secondly, if you make money, then you don’t have to run behind investors, or chase anything. The focus should always be on your business and money and how you are going to make your revenue. I think there is this whole phase going on where the valuation defines the success of your startup, which now I think is not right. It’s the value that matters more than the valuation. The best advice is: 'do not chase the investors but the revenue. This advice was given by Sanjeev Bikhchandani, my adviser.”
Swati Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro.com, a leading player in the Indian deals market, says: “The best advice I have received has actually been from my husband and CashKaro Co-founder Rohan. He always says that we should keep our focus and not spread ourselves too thin. Focus on a few things, but do them better than anyone else in the world can. That kind of focus drives unparalleled success and you become so good that they can’t ignore you.”
Upasana Taku, Co-founder of MobiKwik, a digital payments company, says: “When I was at Paypal I faced a situation where I felt overwhelmed by the expectations from the organisation and my seniors and faced bias because of my young age. I was given the mandate to lead a project and put forth my say in front of organisation’s leaders and senior staff, who had decades more of experience than me, and I felt that I was inexperienced in front of them, to put forth my point of view, argue and make a stand.
Often, in our careers, we face this dilemma. Luckily for me, I received the best guidance from Catherine Hachison, she was the VP of Risk Product at Paypal then. And her words were…
‘To succeed in life, don’t get bogged down by people’s thoughts, biases, processes, culture etc. Believe in yourself, be yourself and stay honest, to get the best out of yourself, and you will also deliver the best for your cause or organisation’.”
Anu Acharya, Founder of Mapmygenome, which promotes better health by using technology, says: “The best business advice I’ve received is ‘think like a consumer when you are selling to one’.”
Suchi Mukherjee, Founder and CEO of LimeRoad, the e-commerce platform for women, says: “The best business advice I’ve received is: “You are part of a portfolio of bets for your investors. Always do what feels right, for this is your only bet.” And “You can never spend your way out of a broken business model. Focus always on building real value for users.”