Abha Maryada Banerjee is India’s first woman motivational speaker of international acclaim. She founded Success India in 2008 and has coached more than 2000 people around the world in performance enhancement.
Naaree.com reporter, Shilpa Sachdev, caught up with her at the Women In Leadership Forum India 2011 in Mumbai, to learn her secrets to success.
- When do you know that it is no longer an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?
When it pulls at the inner self so hard that you get the conviction in your idea and you can see the entrepreneurial possibility, when the need is there, when you know it can be profitable as well add value, when there is a ‘calling’. It is not how but what.
- What inspired you to start on your own? How has the experience been so far?
I am driven by a social bent of mind. I have a gift of being able to inspire people. I am being told that I can think much ahead of time. Initially, the entire thing was very fluid so I started with telling it to just a few people like my husband and son, people who believed in my madness.
I kept testing myself with them. Emotionally, it has been a very gratifying experience but also tough at the same time because of the amount of work one has to put in. We are working on an intangible idea so the chances of rejection are equally high.
- What are some hurdles you faced initially when you started out? Your advice to women entrepreneurs on overcoming them.
Money is the key constraint. One has to find people who will believe in you and will be ready to put money on you. It is difficult to find the right partners. When you start, you are your own peon. I blew all my savings.
- Before starting out, can you give us a checklist of all the things that you need to keep in mind i.e apart from the great idea, what do you need to be armed with?
Do enough research on the viability of an idea. Do as much detailing as possible in terms of the financers, supporters and sponsors. To do random things is a waste of time, hence put together a plan to raise the money.
The ‘money mindset’ has to be built because a business mind runs very differently around money. It all boils down to the idea so make sure the business plan is viable.
- Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you are starting out on your own? What value does a mentor bring to the table?
A mentor provides valuable insights into the ‘how’ of things. It is advisable to learn from the experience of others.
- How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?
To build a good team, you need good relationships and that requires patience and serious interest. Now people come on their own asking if they can work for us.
- What are the 3 key things you have learned in your time as an entrepreneur?
Have a great plan in place and make sure it stand out in the market. Do continuous research; the less innovative a plan, the more generic it will be. Brand it well.
Have a good team consisting of people who connect with you individually. After all it is a people’s business.
Keep your domestic life in perfect shape. This is the space where maximum guilt comes from. If the backend is not good, it is not worth it. Make it a big focus of your life.
- Have you been using social media marketing? How has it helped?
Social media helps in creating visibility. I am all over Facebook, Twitter, Ecademy. I believe that these platforms help build networks wherein we can work.
- Can you share some tips for women entrepreneurs to maintain a balance between work and family life?
Learn to say No. A No can be polite and perfectly alright. Know what you want and not want to do. Life is too precious to be wasted on what your neighbours think.
Have a focus on health and achieve a mind and body balance. As an entrepreneur, the strain and uncertainty is much more. Learn time management. Make time for yourself; never ignore ‘you’.