I realized that the transition from a development worker to an entrepreneur itself is a long journey and has its own challenges. Being a development person, I have never developed a perspective to run an enterprise. Even costing the product was a learning task for us.
One of the biggest challenges I found was and is keeping balance with development aspects with maintaining professionalism. While working for people, one has to be extremely sensitive about the people’s background, their own inhibitions, limited exposures, psychology, etc. These factors take tremendous time for the community to overcome with. Hence, from a professional perspective, you lose time, money, etc. However, in the end, one has to decide what is more important. I would like to give an example, Ms. Jyoti Hulwale, a smart, young woman coming from Rawade village where our workshop is. We are grooming her as our accountant. In spite of being an everyday learning person, naturally, it takes time for her to understand the technical aspects of accounting. My auditor keeps stating that we must hire a person from Pune who looks after the accounting. He never really believed in the ability of Jyoti. I put my foot down, stating that Anubhuti was born to create opportunity for rural youths. If I bring a person from the city, it defeats the entire vision of the foundation. I had to bear many challenges, but we stuck to our decision. Today Jyoti can operate Tally and keeps all the accounts. My learning is to keep the larger objective in mind all the time and give time to people to grow. At the same time, it is expensive!!!
Being a founder member, the passion is much more obvious than other members of the team. Sometimes it becomes extremely difficult to percolate till the last person. As a result, I used to get very irritated and impatient and use to have sleepless nights. Later I realized that it is my duty to translate till the last person. In order to do so, I have to have continuous dialogues with different members of the team. I started having many meetings, phone calls, etc. These do not only help me to have a stronger relationship with them but also to know about the person personally. This helped us significantly to motivate people.
I also learnt that it is very imperative to talk about your business and yourself. It is not wrong at all. I used to not believe in publicity, but then many of my friends told me that unless you talk, how you will increase your outreach? Unless I increase my outreach, it is not possible to have a good network. I have started becoming active even on social media also got motivated to write about the business and myself. Very importantly started getting connected with unknown people through calls, and other platforms like networks of business, etc. This has helped me to connect with many well-wishers. Hence, one has to reach out to people to tell the stories.
Young people – I admire them a lot. Whenever I get stuck, I have always found an answer from young people. At present, we are starting a campaign where Anubhuti can provide an immunity booster to fight COVID 19 naturally, which costs 700/- per entire year. On the other hand, we have also identified the organizations that are in need of such kits (who are working with HIV and AIDS children, destitute women, etc.). This initiative will help Anubhuti to increase employability in its center and also help others to fight this war. I have discussed this with many. However, nobody could come out with the leaflet which I was envisaging. My friend’s 16 years old daughter designed a wonderful leaflet and said “I will help you for fundraising, “so this is the power of youth. One has to involve them and also use their creativity for business. They are quite well informed and know the modern trend of attracting people. Hence, this treasure has to be explored and utilized in the best way possible.
Planning and forecasting are the two aspects that are very important for the business, but they never work out 100%. Even if it works out 50 %, I consider it a very good success rate. I learned it the hard way. Especially in the CORONA era, this has to be accounted for even while planning. We wanted to reach out to break even last year but could not, we wanted to employ more youths but could not, we wanted to reach out to the whole Maharashtra but could not…. The list is very long. However, on the brighter side, unlike other businesses, we could manage to withstand the two weaves of COVID, we did not lay off anybody, we could narrow down our losses so these are the motivating factors for us. We have decided that by June we will sell 2,00,00 worth of goods per month. I am sure at least we will reach 1,00,000 per month.
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