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RodinStar / Startup

My journey of being an entrepreneur… and its end

A year after selling a part of the business and closing operations for good, I can now look at the rear view mirror more objectively. These are my learnings – running the business and closing it down. While some I would have liked to avoid, others were worth the effort, but all are dear to me.

After 12 years in Finance, I ventured into the unknown field of executive search by chance. I liked what I did, loved talking with people and hence my new avatar was born. Compared to the one-dimensional approach HR consultants took I was much better equipped and rose from being a Senior Manager to CEO in 2 years. In the times of 2009, when all were failing miserably our company was doing well. That made me think of starting on my own – and that was my first learning..

First learning – New kid on the block

 Starting on my own with a team that joined me (reasons for their moving were entirely independent from my leaving – but that’s for another time), we immediately got clients who called and wanted to work with us. But they were expecting lesser rates than what we were charging earlier. I learnt that perception of strength is greater than strength itself.

Second learning – It’s all business Charlie

Your clients are not your friends. All the encouragement and personal interest was for the work at hand. It’s always business first. They are nice to you because you fulfill a need. Hence make them dependent or lose them.

Third learning – The pit has a bottom

The lure to put in more in anticipation for higher returns is always huge. It is like the slot machines. Every small payback makes you want to keep playing more even if you know that the slots are not giving you enough to cover those dimes you put in. Work out your cash-flow and operate within your plan. This goes for larger space, larger teams, bigger branding, et al.

Fourth learning – Don’t take it personally

When you are a first time entrepreneur you are too close to the business. Every criticism of the business is perceived as a critique on self. I learnt it the hard way after losing a client or two – Maintain the objectivity.

Fifth learning – Your baby is only yours

I found that I used to train amateurs and they would quit once they had learnt and were doing well. I learnt that you need to take care of your business and its contingencies. No one else will feel the pangs of motherhood – only you. Learn to disassociate and create back ups for attrition. People will leave no matter how well they are treated.

Sixth learning – The amputation will save the limb

This I learnt very late, but I wish I had earlier. It would have saved me a lot of money and heartache. There will always be some laggards with some stars; sometimes the two tied together irrevocably. In my case they were married. To hold on to one I endured the other, only in the end to let go of both. Some I kept out of kindness, some out of loyalty and some out of need. Now I have learnt to make a clean cut the moment realization hits. It is a lesson well learnt but still difficult to follow. 

Seventh learning – Expect and thou shall be disappointed

I reveled in the fact that we were one happy family; loyal and trustworthy. Eventually I learnt that expectation of anything but work was over reaching. It is not necessary that the subject of your benevolence would also feel the same way. One must learn to be apathetic to these minor digressions. 

Eight learning – Leave a legacy

Help whenever and wherever you can. It will never go waste. Amidst all the fickleness of human kind, you will still find people who value you. Your work will speak for itself even after years. So do the work you will be proud of. 

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9 Comments

  1. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    jenifer,

    wow. i’m sure thousands of rodinhooders will relate to your post! each one of your learnings is so so real. many thanks for sharing it when you were ready to. this will serve as a wake up call to other first time entrepreneurs who might be facing the same challenges you did. 

    “I learnt that perception of strength is greater than strength itself.” is pure gold. 

    5, 6, 7, 8 are my fav learnings. a special thanks for #8 🙂

    i’m sorry you had to shut down your business. i just hope you’ve emerged stronger…

    good luck for your next endeavor! 

     

  2. Profile photo of Jenifer

    Hi Asha

    Thank you for your concern and words. It was the right decision at the right time 🙂 🙂  .. 

  3. Profile photo of Yogesh Raut

    I agree 100% with all your points. The 8th point is quite valid. Many a times people will take advantage of your help but you still meet someone who reciprocate your act of help and that makes for all other wasted efforts.

  4. Profile photo of Manish Sisodia

    Hi Jenifer,

    To make all the pragmatic observations that you have you must have really been very attached to your business. It is always tough and hard to take the decision to close. But I am sure the entrepreneur in you will always be on the lookout for another opportunity and now that you are so well equipped with the experience you will surely achieve success & prosperity.

    After almost 13 years of my initial career in entrepreneurship and now last 11 years in job, I have again floated my startup. I believe this time I will be able to do it. With observations like yours and thousands of Rodinhooders and Alok always there to help me better manage and control.

    Wish you all the best in your current endeavors and assignments.

    Regards

    Manish

  5. Profile photo of Jenifer

    Thank you for all the encouragement yogesh raut and manish sisodia

  6. Profile photo of Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal

    You know, for you to write this line 

    Help whenever and wherever you can. It will never go waste.”

    ITSELF means that your startup has been successful in its own way. Karma can never be taught. It has to be learnt. And you just did it

  7. Profile photo of Dhruva Tripathi

    Great learning from your post specially from the 8th point. Thanks for such awesome post.

  8. Profile photo of Jenifer

    Yes Alok .. There is no joy bigger than when you have helped a person without any vested interest. 🙂 🙂 and yes i have been on the receiving end as well — when people have helped without any gains .. full circle .. just live it 🙂 I believe that life keeps trying to teach you till you learn .. 

  9. Profile photo of Jenifer

    i am glad you liked it 🙂 

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