Tomador de Riesgos – ‘Susanta Misra’

As we end 2014 and step into 2015, we also end this guest series called ‘Tomador de Riesgos’ which is Spanish for ‘risk taker’. So far we’re read about different perspectives from different entrepreneurs and most of the featured entrepreneurs are fairly young and new to the game. Today I present to you a completely different perspective on entrepreneurship. As a curator and knowledge seeker, I believe it’s important to view something as a whole- a 360 degree view. In this last post FDB is featuring an inspiring entrepreneur who has a very rich library of knowledge to share. He is also a very important person in my life. He’s my mentor, uncle, friend, sounding board, and teacher all rolled into one.

I hope that this guest series has been useful in some way to you guys. If you’d like to see more of these or similar series, comment below or drop me an email. Happy new year!

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Sunayana asked me if I would oblige to write about my journey as an entrepreneur. It was like asking a child, would you mind to have a chocolate or an ice cream ?  At the age of 45, I was a budding entrepreneur and at the age of 50, I am a budding author.  I am happy to write and I am happier to share my writing..

Incidentally, I just finished my first book ‘Ready  To Fly’. It is now available in the market. Will talk more about the book at a later point of time. You can also visit susanta.in to know more about it.
Ready To Flye

‘Ready to Fly’ written by Susanta Misra

Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs are very lonely people. Many of them are known for building great organizations and great teams. But they, themselves are very lonely. Dreaming is one of the few things that cannot be done in a team. Dreams are very personal and if you cannot dream, you may not have a great chance in enjoying your entrepreneurial journey. Not all dreamers are entrepreneurs but almost all entrepreneurs are dreamers.
So, what dream did I have or do I have?
Let me first tell you what dream I didn’t have.  I never had a dream of becoming a billionaire or being in the cover page of a popular magazine or having a business empire.  My dream actually started from a nightmare.! I had many sleepless nights wondering where were we going with our jobs and careers. The stress levels were mounting with the uncertainties in jobs, growing imbalances in work-life balance, deterioration in health and financial stability. There came my dream — a dream of a world where everyone enjoys the right to work based on his/her strength and interest. In my dream world, no job is good or bad, it can only be right or wrong for you based on your strength, interest and the context of your life at that point of time. It was an ‘aha’ moment when I coined the word NICEFIT to represent my dream.
That’s how it started. If you wish to be an entrepreneur, you need to have a dream. Again, there is no right or wrong dream — a dream that is very personal to you and you must be honest about it (at least with yourself).
As you must have heard, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I decided to step out of  a cushy, respectable  and high paying job in  Motorola to take that first step — perhaps the most important step I have taken. Before taking that step I had a 17 yrs long career in Motorola and I shall remain grateful to Motorola for all the learning I had while working in Motorola.
Steps 2-3-4  were easy but exciting nonetheless. We got registered as a private limited company, created a logo, got a website done. Thanks to some wisdom and experience (that comes with age), I didn’t spend any time creating business plans and business spread-sheets. Business spread-sheets are one of the most dangerous addictions an entrepreneur can have. A spread-sheet gives you unlimited freedom to project your revenue, expenses and profit. In my view, it is a total waste of time at the beginning.
To do business, you need to have just two things –a defined product/service and a specific target market. I had neither. It’s easier to follow a road than defining it. NICEFIT as a concept was very new (and even today it is new) and I was repeatedly asked — ‘what service do I provide — training or recruiting?’ The market gets used to existing products/services and often it is reluctant to accept a new one. You would need patience and faith to survive rejections of new ideas — not once but many times.
It was not even clear to me how we will make NICEFIT happen.  I thought, Training can help, Recruitment can also help but both are incomplete as a solution. So, the journey started in search of the solution and is still continuing.
If you are curious about entrepreneurship, please do remember that Entrepreneurship is not always about making money, it’s often about solving a problem or pursuing a dream.
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 Reach Susanta on:

linkedin/susantamisra

Twitter

/NICEFIT_Susanta

1400583286_facebook
 In case you’re new to this blog and are wondering what this series is about, make sure you read the introductory post and other posts written by MrinmayeeSarojini & the Postbox duo.
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Tomador de Riesgos – ‘Mrinmayee Dhobale’

TUNI- Textiles, yoU aNd I, is an enterprise aiming to focus on bridging the gap between textile and interior design. Mrinmayee Dhobale, an alumnus of NIFT and London College of Fashion, began the conceptualization and planning of TUNI in early September of 2013. Finally, TUNI Interiors Pvt. Ltd. was born on 29th January 2014 and had its successful debut exhibit in March 2014. Nine months into business, here’s a peek into the journal of Mrinmayee….

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I started out with what seems like a basic debate between campus placements and self-employment. Most young entrepreneurs (I would assume) have been through that dilemma. There was some scepticism, some support, lot of perspectives on the business model, advice from the well-wishers and the not so well-wishers. The most common advice I received was “work for 2 years and then start your business”.  At first, I had no idea how that was relevant. My response to that was “Will 2 years of work experience guarantee success at my business?” Being stubborn as I am, I was looking for a yes or no kind of answer to that. In my opinion, today or 2 years from now, the risk was going to be the same. Learning on a jobwould definitely have its own advantages, but it just wasn’t me. I didn’t see myself investing 2 years in a job while I could invest it in TUNI. For me, it all came down to that and the debate finally ended. Half the battle was won when the result was in favour of “start your own venture”. So, a lot of scribbling pads, unsent emails, business proposal drafts and broken pen nibs later, TUNI was born. And here I am today writing for a blog titled ‘From the desk of a Businesswoman’!

It took only a few days to realise that it was just half the battle. There I was, rather proud of myself for taking the leap, when feasibility and logistics entered the scenario.  I had things all planned out from the design to execution to when the first event would be; a rather elaborate party in my head. But then again, the plan in my head was far from reality. As my friend called it, “my bubble had burst”! I started planning this venture in September 2013 in Kolkata. Yes, ‘in Kolkata’ is an important part. Everyone who has been to the city at that time of the year knows the festivities that take on the city. It was not the best time to get work done or even started. And having just moved to the city didn’t help much either. The city looks beautiful that time of the year, and there’s most certainly an awesome vibe through the pujas. But the unstated fact is that work pretty much comes to a stand still. It’s like trying to find a cab in London on Christmas day (no exaggeration)! Except imagine a month long Christmas. There wasn’t much I could do than wait for people to resume work post pujas.

 When people were finally back to work there it was, the switch from “good luck, beta” to “’I don’t know’ is not an answer”. This hit me when, while planning TUNI’s first exhibit cum sale, I told one of the organisers I didn’t know the answer to what he was asking (it was a basic VAT query). That was rather politely tailed by “Then whom can I ask ma’am?” followed by complete silence from my end of the phone call. That’s when I realised I had to learn and I had to learn fast. These many months into TUNI, the primary thing I’ve learnt is that from the tailor to the teller, no one will take ‘I don’t know’ as an answer! Having said that, as much as I have grown in these months, when it’s not the best day at work, crocodile tears are in order and I have no qualms in admitting it! Everyone on the receiving end of this is probably nodding right now.

 It would be naïve to believe that the learning curve isn’t steep in a business. I could ramble on for pages about things I’ve learnt at TUNI, but the most important of all has been accepting accountability. I remember when the very first event went well; I was ecstatic! But when another didn’t, I realised I was quickly looking for things to blame (yes, not very professional, I know). I blamed the marketing strategy, the choice of venue, the day of the event, the collection, the choice of city and a lot of other such things, only to realise all those decisions had been mine. That’s when I realised I couldn’t just be popping champagne after successful events; I am equally responsible for the failures. There definitely is a huge difference between knowing it and realising it. Everything said and done, at the end of the day the pride in calling this venture MINE is what drives me. I wish I could share more, but there really is nothing more to why I wake up and look forward to work every single day!

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 Reach TUNI & Mrinmayee on:

1400583286_facebook/TUNIInteriors

pinterest/tuniinteriors/

linkedin/mrinmayee-dhobale/5b/414/315

Tardiness at work

I remember the very first meeting I had with a marketing agency. I got a call from a girl one day representing a digital marketing company who asked for an appointment with me. I was quite excited; well it was my first external meeting! So I said “Sure. Come to my office at 11 am tomorrow. Is that a good time for you?”. She responded in the affirmative and said she’d be there at 11 am.

Cut to the day of the appointment, 11 am and she’s not there yet. She and her partner showed up at 12:30 pm. By that time I had already made up my opinion about them and the service they were going to pitch and believe me, the outcome wasn’t going to go in their favour. I plan my whole day according to meetings and when people don’t maintain time it majorly upsets the rest of my day.

Now, I’ve got to be honest, I’m not the most punctual person myself. In fact, until recently I was always late wherever I went- Movies, concerts, dinners, submissions, etc. But I always ensured that I was on time when it came to work and business. Like in my previous job I was one of the few people who would do everything within deadline and attend meetings on time.     

So now in the position of marketing manager I get tons of requests for appointments from various vendors and I expect them to show some basic etiquette such as being on time. The other day I had given a 12 noon appointment to one company for them to pitch their offer. They, of course, didn’t turn up on time; showed up half an hour late in fact. The very first thing I said to these people was “You were supposed to come at 12 noon” and they conveniently ignored it. As you can imagine, I had already judged them negatively. To add to that, during their pitch they got some pretty obvious detail wrong about my company, twice. My response? “You should have done your homework.” I mean duh! You were the one who approached me, I am your potential customer and you couldn’t take me seriously enough to show up on time and do your homework about my company? That itself says so much about your work style and the relationship I would have with your company if I decided to take you up on your offer. Jeez. 

You know what they say about first impression being the last impression? Yeah, it applies to your punctuality too, not just your looks. And please, do your homework.

Sunayana Sen

Oh, the struggle!

I’ve heard so many people say that working for your parents would be a holiday. I can guarantee you that unless you’re a spoilt child, it’s harder than being a regular employee. I’m expected to work twice as hard, be there for longer, be yelled at for everything that went wrong and most importantly, I take work back home. So the next time someone tells you that working for your parents is not really work, slap that person across his face and tell him to be courageous enough to start his own business.

Now, I walk a fine line between being just an employee and the boss’s daughter. My biggest struggle is with that conflict of identity. I want the others to feel free around me and not fear me. When they see me I don’t want their first thought to be “Boss’s daughter”. I certainly want to be respected- not for my family alliances but for what I bring to the table. Then there’s also the implicit pressure of being as good as my parents. I’ve heard at least ten times today that I’m a mini version of my father and now if I don’t live up to it, I will permanently be branded as a failure.

Last week I had a situation with a colleague who was slightly rude to me. At that point I felt quite conflicted and I needed to talk to someone and get it off my chest. Unfortunately, I don’t have anybody of my age so naturally I thought of talking to my parents. But the problem is that if I spoke to my dad, he wouldn’t even bother investigating; he would simply start yelling at the said colleague and then everybody would fear me. I can’t afford that. I didn’t even want to tell my mother and put her in a position of conflict. So I brooded over that issue quietly in my mind for a couple of days until I got it out. In my previous company, in such situations, the two parties would sit together, talk it out respectfully and move on. But those folks were highly intelligent and polished people which isn’t really the case in my current industry. Not even close!

This struggle continues and I’m sure it will for a while longer. The journey has just begun after all.

Sunayana Sen