An Entrepreneur Is A Social Animal
An important aspect in any entrepreneur’s journey is funding, which is of vital significance in the growth phase. Though Pink Lemonade is completely self-funded, I know of many women entrepreneurs who have gone down the funding route.
Yes, I’ve tweaked the adage – ‘man is a social animal’ to explain my views. These days, an entrepreneur cannot afford to function in a void. Every business, no matter how small or large, has multiple stakeholders – employees, clients, partners – which is why an entrepreneur must take into account everyone’s interests.
The very landscape of business has evolved and become more complex over the years, with markets and industries becoming fiercely competitive today. This is perhaps why entrepreneurs need all the support they can get – a requirement that is doubled in the case of women entrepreneurs.
Networking all the way
Personally, I owe my success to a multitude of factors. At the start of my career, networking was the singular most important aspect to help grow my business. In the early years, over 95% of Pink Lemonade’s business came from word-of-mouth. Even today, happy clients are our most vociferous form of advertising/publicity!
If you are a woman entrepreneur kick-starting your journey, look up women-centric bodies such as WeConnect, Jobsforher, eMERG, Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurship, The Friday Convent (TFC), and Her Entrepreneurial Network (HEN). Such organizations exist to support, mentor, and train women entrepreneurs. Even general entrepreneurial bodies such as National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) extend their assistance to budding women entrepreneurs, through their Women’s Chapters. Overseas, organizations such as the Cherie Blair Foundation, Aspen Voices, and Vital Voices are doing amazing work to inspire and help women entrepreneurs in their journey.
Yet another great avenue for training and support is the Government. Recognizing the value in promoting women entrepreneurship, the Government has set up various initiatives to aid businesswomen. For instance, The Ministry of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSME), has a variety of Entrepreneurship Development Programs or EDPs. The Office of DC (MSME) has also set up a Women’s Cell to provide coordination and assistance to women entrepreneurs facing specific problems.
Funding for success
An important aspect in any entrepreneur’s journey is funding, which is of vital significance in the growth phase. Though Pink Lemonade is completely self-funded, I know of many women entrepreneurs who have gone down the funding route. In this burgeoning startup landscape, venture capitalists have opened up to the advantages of funding women-owned and women-run organizations. VCs such as Kalaari Capital and trade bodies such as Nasscom have put into place fellowships and startup programs to encourage women entrepreneurs eager to disrupt the ecosystem. Further, nationalized banks such as Bharatiya Mahila Bank offer funding to women, while the Government also provides financial incentives in the form of loans and tax benefits. As per the 2015 National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, the Government has ensured special focus of development of women entrepreneurship by putting in place attractive schemes.
Co-working is the new buzzword
Pink Lemonade began as a small startup, with just two of us working out of my apartment. As the years went by, we grew organically and acquired office space in the same building. Today, we are a team of 60+ individuals working out of a 6,000 sq ft office in Domlur. For most startups, working out of home or a coffee shop is the natural choice. But as teams/companies grow, finding the funds to rent an office can be challenging. Enter co-working spaces, such as BHIVE, which allow startups to thrive. Such firms also organize events and meetups such as Startup Saturdays, to bring diverse people together. In a way, these help shrink the industry and expand exposure as well as networking opportunities in a conducive manner.
My mantra: Giving back
I firmly believe that as we grow, it is our responsibility to give back and help others experiencing the same hurdles/challenges we did in the early stages. Over the years, I’ve participated at various events, seizing every speaking opportunity that comes my way. This is so that I can encourage and support young women entrepreneurs, demonstrating to them that if I can do it, anybody can! Last year, I gave the keynote address at the Women’s Web Breaking Barriers event, addressing a large gathering of women who were eager to start their entrepreneurial journeys. This year, Pink Lemonade has taken a step further by tying up with Jobsforher for a special program to help women return to the workplace. As part of ‘Reskill, Retrain, and Restart’, we aim to help women by conducting a series of returnship workshops and offering internships to a select few.
As they say, entrepreneurship is a cyclical process – what you sow, you reap. And when you invest in others, you uplift the entire ecosystem.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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