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 tuition 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.
The Entrepreneur Journey began while I was in search of making my bare minimum basic needs of livelihood. Accepting Challenges & Facing The hardship-Indeed Paid Off -Life’s Turning Point with 3 New Business Setup
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 automated 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.
Darker Side of Life - 5Years of The NIGHTMARE [2010-2015]
My son had been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis in 2010. This moment has very shocking , for me it was full of guilt & regret. I felt responsible for his illness & could not forgive myself. This guilt pain was very much choking & killing me internally. I felt that somewhere my child was neglected or I failed to attend him , though I always tried my best – as children & family had always been my top priority without any compromise. But still I felt it was my biggest failure , I then could not focus on business because the guilt in me as mother would not allow me to have peace within . I started feeling insecure about my son, I focused completely on his health to ensure that he is out of danger . During all this time , my mother stood throughout with me & took care of my son . From the year 2012 till 2014 was very unfortunate for me , as I was been diagnosed with critical illness extra pulmonary tuberculosis , which affected my health very badly , wherein certainly life was not the same, physical & mentally a lot of wear & tear I had to go through, became dependent on others for daily routine . Could Not attend office on regular basis for these years , could not do any work & it took 2 years for me to physically recover from the illness. The 12 months of tuberculosis treatment was not easy going , the side effects of the treatment would at times break me up . Back to back side effects were adding on to worsen the health conditions. While lying on bed feeling helpless at times which would bring in depression too , the feeling of helpless was very traumatic ; shuddering life’s confidence at times . But yes the will power was very strong in me . I treated this as momentary & always used to look forward for coming morning to a normal life. While I was at the stage of recovery , then next shock hit me , a big setback when I got to know even my husband got exposed to this illness , even he was diagnosed extra pulmonary tuberculosis lymph node.
From 2010 till 2015 , all these years had been full of pain , trauma , insecurity and nightmare. I indeed had started loosing my confidence , I started feeling more & more helpless as in family of 4 members -3 were diagnosed with this illness. Honestly , many times I would break-down crying in alone & praying to god , asking for strength & support . Would pray for family life & health safety. I had to tell my husband to be mentally very strong but indeed I was loosing my strength . I used to tell him that we must have strong will power to fight back not only this illness but while the treatment line was hard with all its side-effect , we had to maintain positive in our mind set . Yes my family members were very supportive , always a positive environment had been built up. The support of all our family, friends & my in laws indeed acted as life saving herbs.
Coming out from 5years of Nightmare
Finally 2015 completely recovery from illness physically & mentally , joined office back in April 2015 . It was coming back to life & as if rebirth. In all these years business had to be downsized, closing down Outsourcing, Contract Placements, Pharma, FMCG any many other Business Verticals . After my struggle with illness , coming back to business is like fresh start-up from scratch but yes, experience & confidence counts . It was too late for me to realised that this , that due to my illness , it just wasn’t the complete collapse of my health but also of my business. I just focused on bringing everything back from scratch with new team for business expansion.
Once with single hand , today with team of 12 people as the organisational strenght , focusing on future plans
- Expansion - Have setup up various industry verticals & to open up branch offices by end of year 2018.
- One of my biggest dream is to , support women re-join the main workforce after their sabbatical /career break .
A matter of high concern which I have been experiencing since long time , there are women who have taken sabbatical /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 these sabbatical gap . So we would like to support those women to rejoin the workforce after a break .
Important Learning in Life
This part of the life was something which I could say made me to learn a true big lesson that Health is Wealth; nothing can replace Health. Never Neglect Health. People spend their HEALTH gaining WEALTH & then have to spend their WEALTH to regain their HEALTH . Don’t be careless about the your health as it is the only place , we have to LIVE in.
Challenges in Balancing Personal & Professional Life.
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 . Finding a pace that keeps the business humming without grinding down the owner is a challenge that comes early & often in the evolution of a small business. The long hours at work and the constant pressure to perform wears out even the most passionate individuals resulting in physical & mental drain. Striking Balance between personal & professional front, managing the office, House & Children was an uphill task. My children were at an infant stage, so was my start-up business like an infant baby, both needed constant attention throughout. Managing both fronts without letting anything fall apart had been challenging. At personal front I used to be preoccupied with my children’s safety & security when I use to be away from home, upbringing them with highest conduct & values in life, their health & academic responsibility. In business, it has always been challenging to manage the high pressure, competition, maintaining quality, market uncertainty, service commitment, completing the target, late work hours schedule . Each passing day added to my experience, I had to learn & unlearn, this helped me to evolve as a person enriching my experience in handling & balancing , Family & Office better with each passing day.
Sustaining 20 years in this recruitment business had certainly been of high challenge for me , with various recessions from 1996 to 2012 , effecting the Indian Industry & Economy as whole , which equally did affect my business also , still managed to sail safely throughout the recession . Apart from recession period Pioneer did good business . Have partnered various MNC & reputed brands in the industry as preferred partner of choice in recruitment service.
My story is not uncommon ; its common to many of those women out there
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 and 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.
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.
“When You Write the Story of Your Life, Don't Let Anyone Else Hold the Pen” – Harley Davidson