Whenever I hit a wall and don’t want to face Monday, I either sulk the whole week, or look to the internet for some encouragement. As the startup culture only gets bigger, we’ve all read an exhausting number of stories about IITians and IIM(ians?) being excited by something, roping in investors and promising to change the world.
Sure, it’s all very pretty – but I think it would be more inspiring to know what business owners dread and how they overcome inevitable, industry-specific hurdles. What keeps them up at night? What are they most afraid of? I caught up with 6 incredible entrepreneurs – a game designer, a baker, a wedding planner, a photographer, a singer, and a fashion designer for some insight.
They told me about their business mistakes and fears. In what I consider very encouraging, I didn’t have to look beyond my Facebook to find these super inspiring ladies.
What Keeps Them Up At Night?
Many of us find our better selves after sundown, sans all the negativity, noise and information overload. Neha Murthy, game designer and owner of Pachisi says she does her best work at night. “There’s something about next-day deadlines; it keeps me up. I think a lot about how to expand my business, if I have enough money, what ideas are good and which ones need to be trashed. I also stay up reading about other artists’ amazing work around the world.”
Cindana Manickavel, baker and owner at Sugar Monkeys says she loves burning the midnight oil. “I enjoy working at night as it’s more peaceful and calm”. Since she’s a baker, next day orders keep her up and icing!
Nadisha Thomas, a musician and classical singer has an interesting take. She has been singing since she was a little girl. “I often lose sleep over what I should be doing next. There comes a point in your life when you feel you may be getting too comfortable or just stagnant – with no challenge whatsoever. It’s also troubling when older people ask you what you do for a living and you feel very judged and misunderstood after you’ve explained the whole thing to them. Most people are horrified that I don’t have a fixed income. Sometimes, this stresses me out and keeps me up at night.”
What Is Their Biggest Business Fear?
Anaka Narayanan launched Brass Tacks Madras 8 years ago. Since then, she has let go of many of her business fears. “But I do fear spending precious time solving the small issues at work – either at the store or in the offices. I also fear burnout!”
Swathy Sekaran, a freelance photographer says her only fear is “not getting to do good art. I am more in touch with my artistic side than my business side. I fear getting too caught up in it and losing out on creativity.”
While Neha says she dreads “running out of ideas,” Cindana says “not maintaining consistency in taste because I may have to use a different brand of ingredient due to unavailability” makes her anxious.
Interestingly, I found consistencies in the answers I got here. Many of these ladies say their mistakes include revealing business secrets.
Shruti Prasanna, wedding planner and owner at Adhvik Solutions says she learned a lesson for life – “When I started, I didn’t really know where to stop. I offered too much information for free, and then clients did not choose to work with me.”
Cindana regrets sharing her signature recipes with others. “But I guess on some level people tend to copy good work anyway, so I’ve learnt to cope with that.” Anaka firmly believes that imitation is indeed the best form of flattery – “it doesn’t bother me anymore. If they are copying my styles, then I am doing something right.”
Nadisha says she’s learned to give the audience what they want. “At a gig at a local pub, I played a set list of songs that I enjoyed, but the audience didn’t connect with them. I didn’t think it through I guess, but I got some negative feedback, even though my band and I enjoyed it thoroughly – as did my friends.”
Neha wishes there was a book taking young entrepreneurs through the process of setting up a business in India. She learned the hard way that she didn’t really need to register a company and that “you can spare yourself all the accounting and tax trauma, until you hit a certain income. There are other things to worry about until then.”
What Has Been Their Biggest Challenge