Entrepreneurship has been a very exciting journey for us. It is scary at times. It is also exhilarating, fascinating and fulfilling many a times. When we started out, we had with us only the deep desire to be our own bosses and impact lives positively. We had to work very hard for all the other stuff to come together. Every stage of entrepreneurship does have its own challenges but we are thrilled to have our own thriving enterprise today and would love to share our learning to help anybody out there who is wondering if entrepreneurship is a good road to go down.
So, whether you are 50, 40, 30 or even 25, just like we were when we started, you can take the plunge if you have the inner strength and the resilience to battle the rough terrain. We think that the most important thing is to be open to unlearn and learn, to always be pro-active and to never lose focus. Here are a few things that we discovered in our journey.
1. Ethical business is the only way to go
We started with trying our hand at product photo shoots and eventually discovered that people really loved our products. When we shifted to products and then gradually to handloom sarees, mul sarees and sarees that evoke nostalgia, the entire shift in direction was guided by customers.
The only thing we did throughout was to stay committed to giving the best to our customers while not compromising on how we treat the people we work with. Having our ethics and principles in place is what took us forward.
2. Genuine respect towards your employees, customers and beneficiaries is the
foundation for success.
When we met our weavers and started to work with them, they were unhappy with many things that were happening to them before we arrived. Many of them were exploited, they were frustrated with middlemen who paid them meagre wages for their amazing work, and they were struggling with having stable livelihoods. We couldn’t see why they had to suffer. Their craft was something that deserved the highest respect and that is exactly what we gave them.
At Suta, immense respect for weavers and their families is the root of everything and this percolates to respect towards our team members, our customers - the SutaQueens, and for humanity in general. Everything else about our enterprise is built on this foundation.
3. It all begins and ends with who you want to be and what you want to do for the people around you.
For us, our enterprise has been about sourcing, logistics, customer relationships and a lot more. But then, it has also been an extension of who we are as people. We believe in promoting sustainable ways of living and that gets extended to our enterprise as well. On our personal social media pages as well as on the Suta page, we always talk about what we really believe in and encourage people to live sustainably. So, as our enterprise grows, it translates into growth of positive impact.
4. Empowering people instead of just employing them, including empowerment of women, has taken us a long way.
The Suta team is 60% women and we are super-proud of this. Throughout the enterprise, what has worked for us is that we focussed on empowerment rather than just employment. Be it our weavers or our team members, we are a family that support each other.
On the whole, we would like to say that when we quit our jobs we knew that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy. Today, we might be making lesser money than what we would have made if we were at our jobs. But, here less is more. Because the fulfilment we get and the kind of impact we make are priceless.
So, if you are contemplating about starting out on your own, do give these points a thought and become a serious learner before anything else. Learn as much as you can and invest in self-development. Nothing is impossible. And, if a loved one is taking up entrepreneurship and you are really nervous about it then don’t be, because, they need all your support, love and constructive criticism to go on.