Fourteen to forty

Publication: Times of India
Posted on: February 22, 2017


There’s a need for speed. I sense that every time I meet a young entrepreneur; male or female.

But with women in their early twenties, I sense, a huge rush. A sense of pressure to deliver, to meet targets, build brands, prove a point, stand out, win, shine and even more, outshine and while doing so at times, completely falling off-balance. A ticking biological clock, doesn’t help matters much either. The ephemeral buzz for achievement and competitiveness however begs for guidance and often, they fail to look up to or receive advice from women.

Indian women have done fabulously well as professionals; but if you want to pin down on super achievers among women entrepreneurs who have already made it, and are there to show you’re the way, you may not get too many names to pin up on your soft-board for further research.

A business is a business, a job is a job, a profession is a profession. Yet, there are nuances that mark the difference in how either gender dash to the finishing line.

If you are a young woman, in early twenties and you have a mental cut off age of forty, to be somewhere, the primary drive should be to make the most of all you have and FOCUS. And how do you stay on course while battling all your challenges?
I met Ameera Shah recently, for this blog. Ameera, a Harvard grad, left her slick New York life to come back and build an empire, all at 21. Today at 37, Shah, MD & Promoter at Metropolis Healthcare Ameera is a name to reckon with. She was chosen among Asia’s Power Business Women 2015 by Forbes. In 2015 again, she was named the Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum.

She agreed on my observation on a lack that there is, of women role models for present day, Indian women entrepreneurs. I asked her to share a couple of broad tips that she may have picked up in her 16 years of entrepreneurial journey that have helped her retain her sanity and grace despite the need for competition. She generously shared the following 14. Read them. Read the 15th one too. It is mine, and I wish you the best.

TIP 1: Don’t let emotions overwhelm you

Entrepreneurship is as much an emotional journey as it is a tactical one. As such, it is important for an entrepreneur to be able to control their emotions and not allow them don’t overwhelm oneself. A person’s strengths and weaknesses are their own. It all depends on how one creates a balance between them and channels all the feelings in the right direction. Nobody becomes successful overnight; it is a result of one’s hard work and sweat, both physically and emotionally.

TIP 2: A mentor with whom you can be your honest self

Every successful entrepreneur needs one or two mentors who don’t have a financial stake, equity investment, or business relations with them. These are the mentors one will be able to share their innermost fears and problems with, as they are the ones who just want to see the entrepreneur grow and the business succeed, without any hidden agenda. It also always helps to have learnt something from a seasoned expert; they may provide insight and connections which could transform your business.

TIP 3: Gratitude will help you stay grounded

Gratitude is very essential for every entrepreneur. This is one of the most essential qualities for an entrepreneur which will help them stay grounded. Humility and gratitude will prove to be a great asset while striving towards the ambition of scaling your business.

TIP 4: Take a step back to see the big picture

In business, an entrepreneur may be tempted to grab every opportunity that comes their way. But sometimes, it can also become a noose around your neck. Instead of grabbing every opportunity, one needs to think logically and weigh in their options; whether this action is helping the business grow or not. Take baby steps – it will always be tempting to go all in at once but taking small steps, just moving forward every day, is the key to success. All big victories are made up of smaller wins and littler beginnings.

TIP 5: Get your hands dirty and stay involved

Building a business means thinking in concentric circles. It is always easier to build something that is close to you rather than something which is far off and difficult to manage. For example, we at Metropolis focused on building our infrastructure in South and West India as these are our stronger markets before venturing out to other cities. It is also essential that the entrepreneur is involved in every process of each department early on in order to convey their vision and values at every step and work towards it with everyone.


TIP 6: Build your emotional intelligence

Emotional Quotient is important for any entrepreneur. It is important to be truly empathetic to build long term relationships in business. Contrary to what gender stereotypes may suggest, showcasing emotions is not a sign of weakness, especially for a leader.

TIP 7: It’s not just about valuation or raising funds

Business isn’t just about valuation; right now everything is about valuation, nonetheless cash and profits play an extremely important role. An entrepreneur needs to figure out how much money they are making and want to make. Raising funds is not even half the battle won.

TIP 8: Self-confidence is an asset

Self-confidence is the biggest asset for a woman. Women in India are preconditioned to believe that they have certain roles to play and are often persuaded not to take risks. It is important that women embrace their right to confidence to sufficiently overcome any prejudice that comes their way.

TIP 9: Write your own rules

The entrepreneurs’ class is that of a minority, that means there are no set rules and guidelines. This allows the upcoming entrepreneurs to push their boundaries and take risks. They do not need to copy or emulate anyone but they can write their own rules. An entrepreneur needs to give up on a lot of things in the early stages for the business. The emotional and financial sacrifices are immeasurable. This means they have to toughen up and deal with anything that comes their way. An entrepreneur has to be ready for all kinds of risks and set-backs. The most important thing that counts is their will to get back up, try again, perhaps fail again and yet keep on trying.

TIP 10: Try again, fail again, fail better.

Try again, fail again, fail better. There will be a lot of mistakes while building a business which is perfectly fine. There are two lessons that we need to keep in mind 1. Never stop trying 2. Learn from your mistakes. There is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. While intelligence is knowledge which could about the industry/sector, wisdom is experience which will help you sail through situations. Such wisdom comes from making mistakes.

TIP 11: Aligning your leadership team

Hire the right people and leadership team. A leader needs to set a vision and goals, and effectively translate this to his or her team. That is why it becomes helpful when teams with complementary skills are hired. A team which shares similar entrepreneurial zeal and cultural philosophies has a higher chance to succeed.

TIP 12: Listen and respond to every kind of feedback

Listen to your customer and keep improving. You are in a consumer driven market and it is important for them to believe in you. This can only be achieved if you are willing to listen and learn from your customers and adjust. You end goal is to ultimately impress your consumers so they stay loyal to you.

TIP 13: Rejuvenating hobbies increases productivity

Be passionate about hobbies. For any entrepreneur it is important to take time out for themselves to relax and rejuvenate.

TIP 14: Promote passion in workplace

Love what you do – passion is key to creating a dynamic business strategy. Half-heartedness in an entrepreneurial endeavour will chip away at your drive to succeed. Push your selves, but be kind. Life is about work, success and building and leaving a legacy. It is also about enjoying the beautiful gift od seeing this beautiful world and enjoying your own human experience.

TIP 15 (MY TIP): Slow down, every once in a while. Re-align, re-focus and make time for life. Enrich yourself. 20-40 is a complex time, much as it is crucial for a professional or an entrepreneur to make the most of; it’s also the time when you lay the foundation for your personal happiness and relationships. Seek balance is all you do. Win some, lose some. Your personal life is the cushion you will fall back on every time you fall. Build it well. Enrich yourself. Read books, make friends, travel often. Put joy at the center of your life. In the end, you will be fine.