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Naaree Interviews Dr Bani Anand, Founder and MD, Hairline International

At the helm of Bangalore-based Hairline International is a dynamic young woman who has charted the growth of the company from the word go – Dr Bani Anand.

 A field where hitherto only dermatologists and cosmetologists were being consulted for hair problems, she has created Hairline to be a holistic treatment center with a totally scientific approach.

For Hairline, bringing in international hair treatments much before they are envisaged in the Indian market has become second nature. And in just 2.5 years since its inception, today Hairline boasts of a turnover of nearly Rs 52 million with just 6 centers in Bangalore.

Naaree.com caught up with Dr. Bani Anand, Founder and MD, Hairline International, to learn what drives her and what lessons she has for other entrepreneurs.

What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?

Well, I have been groomed by an entrepreneur, which is to say my mother. So, it was but natural to take it through in the same space. I guess early learnings and good mentoring has contributed to me becoming an entrepreneur.

I think as you groom early you eventually do get into something that inspires you and follow through with it.

When do you know that it is no longer just an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?

I think it is the lack of availability of these services and resources in the country in comparison to what is available on international platforms besides the development of innovation combined with the understanding of customer needs.

There is a certain trending rhythm we follow which comes from customer needs and that feeds the gut of the business model.

What inspired you to start out on your own or with your partners? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?

Well, I started out on my own primarily on the basis of market and customer understanding through debt funding started one hair and skin clinic and in a span of seven years have built seven dermatology clinics in Bangalore with a pathology lab where the blood work gets done.

We also have a research lab, research institute and an ethics committee today to support commerce and research and medical publication. Passion for the subject was my inspiration and customer understanding was my forte. Merged the two and well I had a plan.

Some of the learnings are persistent, never give up on your dreams no matter how difficult it gets, change is inevitable internally and externally, adaptation to change is a must. Keep learning and growing that’s the only way forward.

Learn from your mistakes you are bound to make them.  Continuous learning and upgradation is key to any business with an eye for innovation so keep that eye open always. For all you know you could be leading the way.

Have faith and build strong teams so that they can drive your dreams with complete dedication. Have fun along the way it’s important to reenergise yourself and your teams.

Show your teams your passion and they will drive the business for you. I think this kind of sums up the thought.

What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to entrepreneurs on overcoming them?

Well working with doctors and teams was a challenge in the beginning with everyone looking in a different direction. In essence team building, putting a vision together with so many mindsets and obstacles was a very big challenge.

But time, conviction, logic, training, mentoring all help you eventually in overcoming these challenges.

Sometimes you build your dream as you go along. It comes to you bit by bit which we call evolution. That evolution is an outcome of the dynamics of a business and probably is the best way to go forward. There is always some form of chaos but your effort is to minimise it.

As advice, I would say be cautious and yet follow your instinct. Do the math and see if it adds up from a business point of view. Dream of building something that can actually create real value in real time. Think ahead of time that’s that only way forward. Drive your team to think on those lines.

Understand that problem solving is a daily task you need to do so there’s no running away from it. Take your decisions calmly and not in haste because some of the best decisions made are made with a calm mind.

What are all the things that an entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? I.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?

I think patience, dedication, long working hours, debt-raising ability, ability to sell your vision and raise money for growth purposes, execution ability on the ground and a strong arm to market those services.

Which is why I will reiterate that it’s important to create something that is real by that I mean a need that fulfils a real need or needs to come (pre-empt).

Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?

No, I don’t think so. If you are a visionary with a good lucrative idea to sell all you need to do is add more people based on what will help you make a stronger team and you should be on your way to roll out your project.

The idea, the team and the profits generally are the bigger goals when it comes to raising funds. Debt funding is always available, government institutions support, angel investors, private equities, venture capitalists etc are some of those ways of raising monies.

Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?

Well mentoring is always good, but I think it becomes more crucial when you are at a juncture of raising funds.

Experience will always teach you something and especially from someone capable of making that difference and building something of real value.

So guidance = growth generally.

How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?

Newspaper advertisements were the way to go back then. It wasn’t really difficult.

What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?

Be patient while building your business, build it with passion and follow through with perseverance and innovation. The rest will follow.

What would you describe as your biggest moments of success in your business?

I think our biggest moments of success are yet to come I think. It gives me complete joy when I am able to bring in bring in new edge treatments for hair and skin which drive in exceptional results from time to time.

Recently we brought in skin and hair DNA testing which enables customisation of supplements, topicals, and therapies based on your genetic markers.

Bettering our results is always something that keeps us going. Launching that research institute, doing incredible research on environmental pollutants and its impact on hair and skin.

Publishing our work in medical journals, national and international awards, getting better results with time. I think these are some of those things that kind of give you those joys really.

For us, research drives our innovation and we are committed to advancing the cause of the same in the time to come.

 

Naaree Interviews Jillian Haslam, Motivational Speaker And Author

Never forget the past and the future will never forget you! ~ Jillian Haslam

Jillian Haslam is a qualified speaking coach with distinction and has had a 20-year career in banking, including working with executives at board level. Barclays, Bank of America, and the Royal Bank of Scotland are some of the names on her impressive list of clients.

Born and raised in abject poverty in Calcutta – Jillian is a truly inspirational and professional keynote speaker. She uses her experience and motivational stories to inspire others to face their fears.

With her motivational words and her warmth, she engages and empathises with you helping you to wake up, inspire you to do better and be more confident. Naaree.com caught up with motivational speaker and author, Jillian Haslam, to find out her inspiring story and her goals for the future. 

Tell us about your dream job as a child.

Since I was a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to be able to reach out to hundreds of people in order to eliminate the sadness and the despair that is caused by abject poverty. I grew up facing it and I lived by the Eli Khamarov quote that “Poverty is like punishment for a crime that you didn’t commit.”

I grew up not being able to smile and was asked many a time, even by my bosses if I ever did smile but I had an impossible dream (coming from an extremely deprived background) and not knowing how I was going to accomplish that dream was a worry that never ever left me.

It was impossible to smile but today, I do nothing but smile all the time, only because I now have six teams of people who work to change lives every single day (three huge food banks for the poor and the disabled, six study centres for street children, a team that work for women in need, the youth, the disabled and for people with serious illnesses.

I also speak at very many schools and universities talking to people on the power of developing as “The Irrepressible Mind” and asking them not to forget that there are people who need them.

I deliver training and speeches to corporates as well, sharing the drive and the ambition I had and what it took to get through a 20 odd year career in banking, never losing sight of the goal and the objective I had in mind ever since I was a child.

Why did you go into business in the first place?

Dreams are not fulfilled through magic and people who have money are certainly not going to be there to fulfill them for you. Luck does not exist as Henry Ford said the harder you work, the luckier you get!

So, if I was to fulfill my own dreams, I had to become my own creator and to

(a) work very hard and

(b) I had to generate enough income to be able to support my cause and my dreams without having to ask anyone for monetary help.

As Oprah Winfrey says “The only way to find true happiness is to find out what you are good at and to then turn that into a service for others.” I didn’t know that she had said this at the time but I certainly believe in it 100% today. It’s exactly what I did!!

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

Oprah Winfrey and Estee Lauder only because they had the same vision, the same goal, and the same objectives in mind, to start a business with one purpose only and that is to give back to humanity!

What is the best and worst decision you have ever made?

The best decision I have every made is to empower people with confidence and recognition. I have had people who couldn’t speak a word of English with a desire to succeed but without the ability. Empowering them has been my greatest asset. As Jack Welch said, “Give them confidence and they will act.”

The worst decision I have ever made is to trust people unconditionally. You can care and you can help but to trust someone needs time and I have paid a very heavy price on many occasions by deciding to trust someone based on words, sweet talk and on face value. I have now learned from my mistakes but the hard way, unfortunately.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to women in business?

Skills. I mentor many women to help them start up their own businesses. I have also delivered a speech titled “A dose of reality” and I did this because many seem to have a dream and believe that they can roll out of bed and start a business without the required skill set. That is one of the reasons why 93% of new businesses fail.

They get so involved in social media, trying to make a name for themselves, doing the admin side of things but losing focus of what truly needs to be done i.e. to learn how to deliver or sell their products/services effectively, marketing a product or service or understanding how to build a brand (and I don’t mean logos, websites, and letterheads) it takes much more than that but sadly our comfort zones and Facebook likes keep us complacent and hence totally in denial sometimes.

What’s the best advice you have received in business?

To train and to get mentored by well-established people in business. To get educated before you venture out and to understand that your talent may get you a step through the front door but it’s only hard work, relentless commitment, and knowledge that can keep you there.

My next book is titled “The Irrepressible Mind.” It will help many, but mainly entrepreneurs to understand these facts and to understand the true meaning of what it takes never to give up in business.

What do you do for fun?

Spend time with the people I love (those in desperate need since they need people like us the most)! That is what I see as fun and it’s with these people that I really and truly come to life.

I always use this quote that came from Bill Gates, “I believe I was a beggar by the corner whom no one gave a dime but today, I read and write and speak because someone took the time.”

I want to be able to show them that I made the time to be there for them, just as someone made the time to be there for me. In my case these people were my parents, my matrons in boarding school, my Principal, people who were poorer than poor who came to our aid and mainly a Teacher named Mrs. Barbara Raha who taught me that everything on the outside meant nothing i.e. torn shoes, torn uniforms, scruffy hair, no make-up etc., etc.

What mattered was what was going on, on the inside and how we could look for ways and means to develop that side of us. It worked like magic for me at least!

What did you most fear in the early days of your business?

That I would have to let thousands of people down and that I wouldn’t be able to find a way to help them. It was more than just a fear; it was heartbreaking to have to think of not being able to reach them.

They say when you desire something to an extent where your very being is affected, you accomplish it but you have to start with wanting something more for others than you want for yourself.

What’s next for you and your business?

To expand into other parts of the world, to reach people far and wide in order to demonstrate to them the power being public speaking and finding your voice, to get the movie made (that is based on my memoir, Indian English).

Hollywood has already picked it up and I have managed to reach thousands of children by way of the story itself. It is now a personal goal to get the movie made and to try and work towards creating a world without poverty.

In the words of Muhammad Yunus, “We need to strive to eliminate poverty because once it is gone, we all need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They will wonder why poverty continued so long in human society – how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.”

This is my wildest dream and my greatest ambition and it is always the next step in everything I do. Nothing means more to me than giving back in thought, word or deed.

If you could tell your younger self something what would you say?

Never forget the past and the future will never forget you!

Connect with Jillian Haslam at @JillianHaslam

Women Entrepreneurs, Here’s How To Get Investors To Treat You Right

In all the coverage about sexual harassment in the startup ecosystem, I think this is one of the most honest accounts from a woman’s viewpoint that I have read. I love Perri Chase’s honesty and candor about her own experience with a potential investor.

She openly admits that she’s “not the first or only woman who has ever used being a woman to get time with a man” and that this is where we, as women, need to take more responsibility for getting our lines crossed.

I have personally seen how women flock to powerful men in the startup ecosystem, knowing full well that there are no free lunches. Many of these women are very willing to put out, to get that all-important introduction to a potential investor.

The problem is that these willing women end up creating an untenable situation for women who are not interested in being sexually propositioned.

In that sense, we need to admit that, by tolerating and giving into an investor’s sexual advances, we are part of creating and enabling that exploitative culture.

Also, as Perri notes, different women have different abuse thresholds. While those who have never been abused in their lives might take offense at the slightest hint of impropriety, others who have a higher abuse threshold may not find a similar come-on offensive.

Part of the problem, she notes, is that “in an ecosystem where socializing and happy hours are a big way to meet or get to know investors, there are no real clear lines about what is personal and what is professional.”

Looking for a mentor? Here are some ways that you can learn to navigate the tricky world of meeting colleagues and investors at work and outside of it.

  1. Take responsibility for what you create

Like Perri, I believe in taking radical personal responsibility for my life.

This means I buy into the concept that I alone am responsible for whatever I create in my life. Blaming others is a waste of time and gets you nowhere, except deeper into the victim mentality.

Like her, I also believe that I am powerless to change anyone but myself, and that I alone control the choices I make. Her statements that resonate most with me are:

“We can talk about changing men until we are blue in the face, but the only person who is ever truly responsible for my safety is me… It’s not pointing the finger of blame at him. It’s finding the places where you have control and taking it back.”

That does not mean that men don’t need to learn how to behave better. They very much do! But until then, take responsibility for your own safety.

  1. Have a value proposition ready

Don’t assume that people will have your best interests at heart. Most people go through life looking out only for themselves and their loved ones. Very few people are truly altruistic in their intentions.

The truth is that most people only care for their own interests. Especially if you’re a stranger to them. Approach them keeping that in mind.

All relationships involve give and take. So if you’re hoping that someone powerful will mentor you or introduce you to their contacts, you’d better have a value proposition for them too.

This applies as much to women investors and mentors, as it does to men. No one is going to be motivated to help you out if they see no benefit in it for themselves. A mentee must be able to add some value to a mentor’s life, too.

Whether this involves giving them a larger share of your stock or helping them deal with some aspect of their business that they are having problems with, it’s up to you to do your homework and find out where their interests lie or what they need help with, and then offer to help them out with it.

In other words, if you want something from someone, make them an offer they can’t refuse (preferably one that doesn’t involve sexual favours or violence).

  1. Teach people how to treat you

I believe that we teach people how to treat us. This is one of the biggest issues we need to address if we are to create a safer environment for women in business.

We women need to get out of the victim mindset and take our power back. It’s up to us to start setting very clear boundaries on the sort of behavior we won’t tolerate. And it’s a good idea to do that even before you meet up with a man.

Then, if he loses interest when you’ve set clear boundaries, at least you’ll know that your business was never what interested him in the first place.

If you’ve already met up and want to get out of it, all you have to say is, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we’re on the same page here,” or “I think I misunderstood what this meeting was about,” and part on friendly terms (or not, depending on how he takes rejection).

Should someone constantly disrespect your boundaries and keep making unwanted sexual advances, don’t feel guilty about it. It’s not your fault that he’s a creep. You have every reason to report him to the authorities.

But, I believe that if we learn to be more assertive, are willing to take responsibility for our own expectations, and walk away at the first sign of trouble, there’ll be no need for hurt feelings and accusations.

  1. Trust your instincts

If you feel there’s something off, cancel the meeting or leave if you’re already there. Trust your gut.

Never second-guess yourself or put yourself in a vulnerable position where the lines can get blurry. If you know that drinking alcohol clouds your judgment, avoid drinks altogether or sip a mocktail at a business meeting.

We can all teach men to treat us with respect… as human beings who are not interested in being pawed or propositioned when we approach them for advice, mentorship or funding.

Let’s start by taking responsibility for our own expectations and actions so that we can create a better environment for all involved.

What did you think of these tips? Did you find them useful or were you offended? Let me know at @PriyaFlorence

 © Priya Florence Shah is an author, CEO of Blog Brandz, and publisher of Naaree.com.