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12 Things To Keep In Mind Before Starting A Business

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I’ve started more businesses and explored than I’d care to admit in my 18-plus years of entrepreneurship (some didn’t work out!). In my experience, it’s a bit like driving through a heavy mist where you are only able to see a few feet in front of you – you don’t know what it is until it’s upon you. However, the longer you are an entrepreneur, the better you can navigate through.

Here are some of my thoughts and personal observations learned by meeting new entrepreneurs, and building and growing my own businesses. Do consider these ‘wish someone told me things before I started out myself‘, if you’re planning to start up your own business!

1: Do Something You Like.

I had invested and started a laundry firm back in 2002 because an opportunity presented itself. Needless to say, I couldn’t sustain it.

Don’t start something you think everyone else is doing. Don’t be part of something you can never relate to. I eventually found success because I intended to solve a problem that many faced.

2: Don’t Listen To Others’ Caution.

People love to throw around numbers. Yes, businesses fail. It’s because most people don’t commit, they don’t follow through to the end, or they are bad at managing money.

Don’t listen to that – it’s an excuse to make you feel comfortable about giving up. Trust me; there is magic in converting the non-believers to become your biggest fan.

3: Don’t Be Afraid Of Sales.

You are your biggest seller. You can never outsource this. If it’s not something that comes naturally to you, hire a consultant. Watch that person, and absorb from that person. There is no such thing as, this is not something you are not good at.

If you hear your voice long enough presenting, you will get better and better. Invest in attending clubs like Toastmasters. Pretty soon, you will turn on the beast-mode.

4: Think Of A Good Story. And A Name.

If it’s easy to pronounce and can help you tell a story, stick with it. Get a professional designer to create a great business card. Remember,­ your biggest salesman is your business card. It talks even when you are not around to tell a story.

If you don’t have a good story to differentiate brand, you will be lost. A great story just makes it easier because the connect and acceptance is higher.

5: You Are Not Going To Know Everything.

In fact, you probably won’t know anything when you first start. Start anyway. When I first got into the advertising business, I was just a decent copywriter. I had no idea how to consolidate a campaign, or even design an invoice. Most of us figured it all out “on the job.” You will, too.

6: Never Partner With Someone Because It’s Convenient.

Partner with someone because it makes you stronger. The wrong partner will drive you crazy, make you hate your work and end up causing more problems than they solve.

I partnered with someone who lost my trust, but I continued too long that it affected work. Learn to choose a partner who’s different in skill set but with the same value system.

7: You Are Bad At Many Things.

Accept it. Some are bad at managing people. That’s perfectly fine. You have your own skill set. Steve Jobs did one thing well – he knew what he wanted for his brand. Some basic skill sets we develop over a period of time. Hire an HR consultant or an assistant for you to ape as you grow.

The same is true when you want a strong person to back you with financial acumen. I learned this in my fourth year of operations, and it has made a lot of difference to my ambitions.

8: There Is A Fine Line Between Dedicated And Obsessed.

If anyone tells you this, tell them to mind their own business. If you’re not obsessed with it for long periods of time, then it’s just not worth pursuing. Entrepreneurs cross that line always.

I am overwhelmingly obsessed with branding and helping startups. You must find your obsession!

9: Must Read And Meet.

Someone else’s experiences really do serve as a map for the journey ahead. Knowing what to expect, helps you visualise a similar and more often, a better experience.

Personally, I love reading autobiographies. Their experiences sometimes also serve as validating your own decisions.

10: Your Personal Life Is More Important.

Never forget that. Develop a healthy balance. I started my family life pretty late. And as a new father, I can’t but help wonder, why did I not start early? 🙂

11: Delay Your Reward. But Reward.

Connect your milestones with a reward. I have found that people who delay their rewards also tend to keep a higher expectation for themselves.

12: And Finally, Don’t Chase Money.

Money follows value. Create value for someone else and it automatically becomes valuable for you. Focus your energies on becoming ‘the-amazing-you’ so that your creation becomes incredible for people to be part of.

Yes, sometimes it is lonely and starting out is filled with insecurities, with your own well-wishers throwing more than a few cautions. But ultimately, like life, your business journey is going to be unique. I end with the thought that “stubbornness for your dream is what people end up calling endurance”. Wishing you a happy New Year and more power to entrepreneurial thinkers.

Satish is the Founder & Director, Guru Media Group & also runs Start Guru, an initiative for the entrepreneurial. 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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