As per Statista Research Department, in 2019, the numbers of undergraduate degree awardees across India was 6.47 million. The bifurcation of Males student stood at 3.04 million and 3.43 million female students were awarded their undergraduate degree during the academic year 2019.
India created 4.36 million formal jobs per year between 2011-12 and 2017-18, as per the Economic Survey 2019-
Entrepreneurship is the answer to creating more jobs in India as each year we have a deficit of more than 2 million graduates who remain unemployed every year. Women make more than 35% of those unemployed untapped talent more than 1 million women either do not receive the right to earn their livelihood despite being qualified (Research published by Bain & Company and Google 2019).
As per the research “Powering the economy with her” 2019 Bain & Company and Google, unlocking entrepreneurship amongst women in India is a complex effort, but one which provides an unprecedented opportunity to change the economic and social trajectory of India and its women for generations to come.
The research further elaborates that by 2030, India’s working-age population will surpass an unprecedented 1 billion, and up to 400 million women’s economic potential may be left unaddressed. The World Bank estimates that 75% of working-age women (35% of India’s working-age population) currently do not have paid work. Women’s potential remains as an untapped resource in the country.
The answers to much economic growth and social problems could be answered by Women entrepreneurship as it carves the way for a balanced life by strengthening the income wheel of a family, makes a healthy social fabric of the nation by establishing financial equality amongst women, and earning them an equivalent status in the society Women entrepreneurs either could be Urban entrepreneurs or Rural Agri based either solo or SGH Self-help group entrepreneurship Just like the journey of any entrepreneur, women entrepreneurs need all the ingredients required which starts from their self-belief that they can begin on their own and sustain the arduous journey, they need to be passionate, innovative, creative, ambitious, self-motivated and self-starter to pursue their ideas relentlessly and with a single focus to achieve financial independence and become the creator of jobs for many others.
More women are choosing entrepreneurship as it provides them the flexibility to manoeuvre and to have better control over their lives. Nuclear family women find it more balancing; no family responsibility women find it more creative and lesser restrictive. Besides entrepreneurship I think freelancing is the next best shot to what women want, Many Females workers from corporate services backgrounds can be excellent corporate resources if more WFH options are provided to them e.g., recruitments, backend Operations, Data Analysis, Customer services, Voice support services, HR helpdesk, Travel Desk management, Employee Virtual Training, etc. Hope this pandemic has opened the minds of corporates to give an honest chance and look at “At home moms” as an alternative workforce, who can devote dedicated, limited hours towards work every day and be equally or more efficient than any other full-time corporate team member.
I have personally known many Urban, Post Graduates, well-educated women scholarships holders, who want to work and do not see themselves fitting into corporate jobs. They have extremely useful ideas but don’t have the approach to execute their ideas or do not get a stimulating environment, enough encouragement, or partners to initiate. Despite being knowledgeable and skilled they are not motivated enough to initiate their solo entrepreneurship journey or they don’t have the required business network or mentors to guide them on their ideas execution plan or They don’t have the required financial or economic access to start their business.
But for those who have figured out the finances, the ideas, and inner motivation and are ready to take the plunge in entrepreneurship, I would like to share few points from my journey as solo entrepreneur with all the “marching tigress” before you set your foot on the pedal.
After a successful corporate career in Human resources for 15 years in Indian and Domestic Conglomerates, I started my entrepreneurship journey in 2015 by establishing my organization, Leverage Consulting in HR Consulting and Career Coaching. The objective of starting Leverage consulting was to carve a platform for all the qualified, well-educated, and experienced working moms who want to work from home to enjoy the finest of both the worlds by managing professional work assignments alongside being the caregiver to their children and managing their responsibilities as a homemaker.
My journey has been worthwhile when I look at it from where it started and what we can be in the future. Today Leverage Consulting has a team of young mothers who work from home on recruitment and HR assignments managing corporate clients and equally devoting time to their families and children, balancing both of the worlds being consistent in their daily work deliverables just like a full time professional.
First of all, the most important foundation of this journey is to know and identify what is unique in you, it could be a skill, a service, or a product, an idea which you are mightily in love with and determined to accomplish, come what may. Sort the financial and legal hassles before your plunge to start your first assignments Like your company should be a Legally registered company, must have a company Bank Account, Registered office address and a GST Number is well in place before you start seeking business assignments. Get yourself a visiting card of Founder and let the ball start rolling.
Understand your market and your audience
Researched and test the water by understanding the work through smaller work assignments or by working with one who is in a similar domain or work as a freelancer by associating with other companies. Once you can work
“solo” independently take up smaller assignments and Never say No to a work assignment just because it seems trivial.
My advice… start small and then scale up.
Before even you begin to think about having your venture, you must make your financial reserves. Have a business plan where you have made 3 scenarios – Pessimistic view” No client for first 6 months”, Realistic view “6-12 months 1 or 2 clients”, Optimistic “ in 3 months 3-4 clients”.
Before you even begin thinking of starting your business venture You must have the “seed money” a particular amount that will at least cover your next 1-2 years of business expenses like salaries of your future employees, administrative, IT, and CA expenses, even if your revenue cycle is slow in the beginning. Plan Manpower requirements at various stages of your venture and park your funds for upcoming expenses. Keep Saving along as soon as you start earning. Keep your expenses to a minimum for at least 2 years to save for the rainy days. Nobody thought a Pandemic will hit us that bad! I will suggest not doing the cost and benefit analysis every month. It will just demotivate you. Assess your financial success or loss once a quarter or six months. That will depend on your revenue cycle and business gestation period. All this while keeping a grip on your expenses, if you need to cut down expenses but not stop the investments required for running the business as normal.
I focused on building an earn and survive model which worked as the financially robust model for me. I earned my first employee’s 6-month salary and then actually hired the employee. To date, we don’t just hire when workload increases, the existing team stretches and divide extra work assignments. We hire a new team member only when the team has earned the fresh revenue equivalent to 4-6 months’ salaries of the new hire.
To sustain and retain all your clients, you need to establish your quality benchmarks and be ready to do extra to ensure those commitments. Consistently take feedback from your clients on every assignment and work delivered to understand what they think and how you can improve further and delight them. Mistakes are bound to happen in the beginning, Be humble and kind in your words and accept your mistakes and then keep a double hawk eye to ensure those mistakes are not repeated ever. Learn from mistakes they are the best teachers to learn the nuances of the “delight factor”
Never leave the complete task on your team members. Plan with your team, decide benchmarks and timelines, and allocate work with clearly defined timelines, targets, and expectations with each team member. Plan a regular
assessment of the work deliverables like a “Project Manager”. Do your quality checks every time and take corrective action as soon as any error is noticed before it piles up into irretrievable.
Keep assignment timelines rigorous and follow a disciplined daily assessment yet keep margins for emergencies as they arrive sooner than expected. You need to be ahead of your team members to oversee the workflow and quality aspects. Force yourself and your team to put extra hours to deliver the quality benchmarks set and never compromise at any point. Keep pushing the team to aim higher and achieve more and keep raising the bar slowly.
Put Genuine efforts and keep the positive frame of mind by “never giving up” and relentlessly keep finding the solutions to the challenges faced as Giving up is never an option. There will be many occasions where you will feel like giving up and leaving the floor. ..Just remind yourself of the promise you made to yourself when you began this journey.
Also, note that there is no end to the client’s expectations and how much ever you try you will always find room for improvement. Always keep a strong heart and soft head with the client and your team to enjoy the pace of the business growth. Set clearly defined revenue targets to be achieved in the timelines and build them up slowly with a focus on your core strengths. The more we work the more we earn but to sustain we need to meet the commitments and remain nimble-footed to change tracks when required.
The team need to be your replica
I have always focused on Hiring carefully by looking out for 8 out of 10 my Wishlist match in the team member. And after that always focused on having a trust-based, honest relationship with the core- your team and continuously work upon and building it up further.
We openly discuss ideas within our teams, share our troubles and make our work discussion part of our personal lives that the trust factor is further strengthened. We believe in stretching ourselves for work commitments but I know the breaking point of each one of my team members and don’t push them when they reach the cliff point.
If one of us is tipping off the point, I suggest them to take a break and take the time off and for that period I would take a money hit rather than taking a “hit on the person”. Your team will always remember that and trust you even more. Your team needs to replicate you in quality benchmarks, in communication with clients and within the teams, in the pace of delivery of services, and in understanding the urgencies. For this, we keep training ourselves in new technology and domain knowledge.
We also keep open and commitment-based relationships with clients to sustain a healthy relationship. Not all the time we can deliver to the client’s demands, in such situations, we keep them informed of what is beyond our capabilities and bandwidth which can’t be delivered. This honest exchange has saved our relationship from going sour and we may have lost revenue but we sustain our clients for the long term.
And above all the journey of a solopreneur is a very enriching and erudite experience as each day is a new day offering a different challenge or a delight that will depend on how you look at it.