Year 1984, at the age of 14 , my decision while being in 8th standard of my academic, to be become entrepreneur woman with financial independent, ventured out when I started taking private tuitions of students from Nursery till 7th standard to make up small earnings between Rs.80 to Rs.150 per student, to manage & support my graduation educational expenses. The ambitious journey had started.
The importance of education was ingrained in my mind & heart by my mother, who made me realise the importance of education for women’s economic empowerment & independence, to promote self respect & raise one’s status & self esteem. Despite all odds, education was one thing I found solace.
In my community at the time of 1970 & 1980’s education for girls in my community was the least important . The only important things for girl parent was daughter’s marriage which would happen at the age of 14 to 16 . I was no exception to this custom. The marriage sword was always hanging on my head until finally I got married at age of 18 after appearing 12th exam . After marriage my father wanted me to quit studies, but I rebelled to complete my Graduation B.A from K.C.COLLEGE in 1991. After completing my graduation, I moved to my in law’s house in 1991. I further pursued Higher Diploma in Software Engineering 1 year course from Aptech, the fees was something around Rs. 20,000 which had to be paid in 2 instalment. Around Rs.5000 was supported by my mother & for the b fees I had to take up various part-time jobs as Computer Teacher, Data Entry Operator & Typist.
In 1994 , I got a job as Computer Operator in a courier company & even while doing job , continued to provide evening tuition to school kids to make up an additional monthly income. In 1995 with small savings & a small loan from my employer , I purchased a 386 configuration computer system at home to build up extra earning support system for both myself & my husband , who was working as an accountant in a steel rolling mill. After getting computer system at home , had trained my husband to operate computer & work on Tally Accounting package. While back home from office, I used to visit each nearby shops in market, to ask them if they had any computer typing jobs or accounting jobs for us. Effort yield fruits, I got few accounting job orders for my husband . I used to make all the accounting entries for him, so that when he is back from work, he could review the entries made by me & take it forward for preparing financial statements for his customer before dead line.
1996 had been turning point for my life & career , had to quit from my Computer Operator job & in search of another job I took up Marketing Executive Job in an Advertising & Recruitment Agency , the motivating factor to take up this job was the Incentive plan offered by the Company. After a month job , the company failed to pay the sales incentive as committed, because the senior sales person mislead the management by suppressing the information of the sales target achievement done by me . I had to meet the Senior Management & the MD of the organisation & escalated the matter to them . In this entire discussion a fresh proposal by MD was put forth to me , to prove myself again by achieving the next sales target , which I gladly accepted without any second thought as the committed minimum incentive was of Rs. 25000 . I went ahead with the aggressive sales approach , meeting people, giving presentations for advertisement & recruitment business, making proposals as per their budget , signing sales contract & payment collection from various industries -cement , automotive dealers, tyre , water proofing, jewellery , apparel , dress designers, coaching classes . Had exceeded the sales target in big way, which indeed rewarded me with a sales incentive earning of Rs. 25000/- This was a big amount for me way back in year 1995 . Out of which I purchased Videocon TV for Rs. 15,000 for my 2 year old son, who always used to go the neighbour’s house to watch TV & with the balance amount of Rs. 10,000 , I started my entrepreneurship journey under the banner of Pioneer Management Consultant - a manpower recruitment consultant in partnership initially in 1996.
Parallel to my own entrepreneurship, I equally focused to setup my husband’s start-up business, by preparing flyer advertisement & distributing the same in & around our locality to create awareness about his practise as Accounts & Tax Consultant, which got good response. He then resigned from his job & continued Tax Consultancy practice .
My partnership firm got dissolved to sole proprietorship in later 1996. After this it had been single free hand working for 20 hours in a day. During day time it was complete business development field work & in late evening time used to evaluate the resumes, conduct candidates interview & line them up. Those days mobile was not very much in trend, the only access was PCO, office & resident land line , so during field visit I used to carry the interview details dairy , search for PCO to co-ordinate with client & candidates on pre & post recruitment process . With business growth I hired employees in my organisation.
In 1998, I & my husband purchased our first office in our joint name on loan since then it’s just been a progressive journey till date. Husband has been highly successful in his Tax Consultancy practise.
In year 1999, I initiated a next new startup of Accounts & Taxation Class for my husband, which got tremendous response from students. This course used to provide practical hardcore knowledge & training about the Accounting Practise & Taxation field.
In year 2005 Pioneer Management Consultant got incorporated into Pvt Ltd establishment. Pioneer Management Consultant Pvt Ltd . I made strong investments in various operational software for recruitment process, sales CRM & Payroll , keeping minimum manual interface dependency , making it complete automated , effective & efficient recruitment process within organisation & for our customers.
The 22 years of my this journey with three new successful business establishment, was not at all easy , at times it had been very difficult to survive & sustain. The biggest struggle was balancing personal & professional commitments & priorities. Managing the office, house & two children upbringing , completing the entire household job & then make up to office, business development ,extensive travelling , monitoring complete recruitment operational process , people management , follow-ups with client & candidates , pack up to leave by 5.30pm to pick up child from baby sitting. After reaching home had to complete pending household work, spend quality time with children, take up their studies & after all had slept, carried on with the pending office work in late night till early morning. Many times would just sleep for just 3 to 4 hrs . Honestly it was not easy & smooth for me, to cope up with such work pressure. Everyday & every moment had been very struggling, but each passing day added to my experience in handling & balancing act on personal & professional front.
Sustaining 20 years in this recruitment business had certainly been of high challenge for me , with two recessions in year 1998 & 2008 , effecting the Indian Industry & Economy as whole , which equally did affect my business also , still managed to sail safely throughout both the recession . Apart from recession period Pioneer did good business . Have partnered various MNC & reputed brands in the industry , having been their preferred partner of choice in recruitment service.
Year 2012 till 2015 had been very unfortunate for me & my family , wherein I had been diagnosed by critical illness , it took 3 years to physically recover from this illness after prolong treatment. It’s here what I learnt life’s most important lesson , Health is Wealth nothing can replace Health. These 3 years I had to downsize my business & wait for my complete recovery & come back to health first & then to business.
After 3 years of fight back with critical illness & coming back to business it’s like fresh startup from scratch. Indeed it had been most challenging for me this time because of health concern , bringing up the business once again after downsizing it . Yes my past learning , experience & confidence does counts & made difference , have brought up business back in strong position inspite all these ups & downs .
Once with single hand , today with team of 12 people as the organisational strenght , now focusing on business expansion plans in next 3 years with few new initiative :-
- To open up branch offices by end of year 2018. - Setting up a new Recruitment Vertical fort SME & Startup Sector - Important part is to setup a vertical to support women rejoin the workforce after their sabbatical leave /career break .
A matter of high concern which I have been experiencing since long time , there are women who have taken sabbatical leave /career break for some of the personal reason . While they want to come back to industry to continue with their job , they have been facing challenges , as many times their credentials are being rejected because of 1 to 2 years of their career gap, this career break is effecting their credentials . So we would like to support those women to rejoin the workforce after a break .
This story is not shared with you not because its UNCOMMON , because it’s COMMON to many of those women out there,who have been struggling day in & out on their personal & professional front , at times without any support. Yes, for many women the biggest challenge throughout remains to strike balance between personal & professional life. Initially not all my family members & relatives were supportive of my decision of venturing into business. It was considered against the Social Ethos. This made me more stronger without any regrets in life. With small strides towards registering success, my family members & relatives started acknowledging it.
I want you to know that in business there is no bias approach toward gender, its above gender, being a woman never gives you any edge in business. It’s all about entrepreneurial acumen, moving out of comfort zone , strong passion & dream for your ambition, which does not let you sleep till you achieve it. Many of those who have been wanting to do something in life have undergone various levels of struggle & failures. Remember Entrepreneurial journey never ends , it’s we, who loose the strength to walk through the obstacles & we tend to give up failing to realize that there is Light at the end of the tunnel- Only if we would have persisted a bit longer . It’s very easy to quit but it takes courage & strength to march forward after facing all the risk & failures. The journey is not always easy but not always difficult too, it’s important to bring in balance at difficult & hard times to sustain. Never quit, never withdraw in this journey, never go for shortcuts. It’s this what makes one as uncommon person with very common story.
Success is not by accident, it’s built on failures. Failures add to your experience, only motivating you to fight & emerge stronger next time. Keep on moving from each failure with a small step forward, try harder, nothing is stronger & bigger than your dream, your strength, your efforts, your decision & your determination. Believe in yourself & in your ability. Once you achieve success, its pays the failures of years. When You Write the Story of Your Life, Don't Let Anyone Else Hold the Pen.
Today, I could talk about my story because I only remembered one thing for sure about what I believed in ‘Before Woman A Human’ . Nothing was worth enough for me to give up my childhood dreams & passion. Throughout this journey, one person who has been a Pillar of Support & Strength, is my Mother, she has been the Wind Beneath my Wings which motivated me to Soar high in my Entrepreneurial Journey & still continues to do so......
Sarla Sharma - Pioneer Management Consultant Pvt Ltd.