Entrepreneurship is an edifice founded on passion, focus, grit, winner’s attitude and financial planning. This desire to take a chance on oneself is the fuel behind the country’s best startups. As part of its series, WoMoneyKiBaat, we spoke to women entrepreneurs who have pushed themselves to take risks, create businesses and leverage their ideas. As part of this, just how did they come out stronger and more aware of their acumen, skills and investment approach.
We spoke to women entrepreneurs about how they laid the first brick of their plan and took their businesses to growth stages. We reached out to four successful women entrepreneurs across Mumbai, Delhi and Gurugram who run their restaurants and catering services. Nayantara Thomas, the co-founder of Pariesserie, Seefah Ketchaiyo chef and owner at Seefah Restaurant, Chitra Sharma, the owner of Chef’s Kitchen in Gurgaon and Shilpi Singh, the co-founder of Unhotel in Gurgaon.
The first advice would be to have a good financial planner. It makes sense to invest money there – Shilpi Singh
What were the doubts, insecurities and uncertainties before starting the business?
The lingering doubts and fear of failure are always there when an entrepreneur starts her journey. But this sense of unpredictability dwindles in front of the greater aim of pursuing the rise of a new idea. Nayantara Thomas has always been passionate about making pastries. She wanted to start her bakery where she could experiment with her passion and do justice to it. “There has always been doubts and insecurities. The common ones are whether I am getting the monthly cheques or am I making any money at all. The doubt whether this would work out or not is always there,” she says about the doubts and financial insecurities in her business.
Chitra Sharma who started her catering service with her husband said, “When I first started the kitchen, there was a maximum of ten orders and some days went without any order. I always feared the loss that I could incur and how would I pay my rents and bills?” Sharma says she had to be on top of all budgeting, plans and returns on investments. Like many startups, she had both financial and operational challenges, to begin with.
Seefah Ketchaiyo moved to India from Bangkok in 2011 and set up her restaurant to offer authentic food from Thailand. As she quit a large hotel chain to opt for her signature restaurant, she made money management an important priority. “You cannot use all the money you have earned in a day. You are required to put it in the bank, pay the bills and only at the end of the month do you get to know the profit. So it is important to manage the money that you earn.”
Shilpi Singh, the co-founder of Unhotel in Gurgaon, also had a similar approach. She bet on planning her finance inflow calendars.“Initially, I had personal fears of not being able to make enough money and profit from the business when I started it with my partner. We always had a defined month until which if the business did not make any profit then maybe it required reconsideration.”
Despite all these fears, They chose to become entrepreneurs. Why?
Nayantara rightly said that entrepreneurship gives the space for experimentation with your passion. When it is your brand you know you want to give it the best. Adding to this Seefah said, “In a Chef’s life, food and its quality is more important than its business. Even if there is less or no business, being able to cook and follow my passion is worth everything.”
Shilpi Singh, recalling her past endeavours in the hope of a defined future of entrepreneurship, said, “We were sure that we wanted to do something in hospitality. We were already experimenting in Mumbai as part of a couch-surfing community and we loved it. And we came back to Gurgaon and thought it was time to take the plunge.”
The importance of investments
Making a profit from the business requires a sensibility and decisiveness to invest it in the right place and grow the money and the venture. So, investments are a significant part of entrepreneurship as it decides its future success. Nayantara said that she finds mutual funds the most logical way of investment. She has been personally investing her money in mutual funds. However, her business is still growing and once it reaches the stage of investments, mutual funds would be her first choice.
Seefah, who wants to grow her brand in future, said that she started from a very small business, saved money in it and used it in a bigger business. She hopes to start her brand following this pattern of savings and investment.
Chitra Sharma said that she always had a plan for investments. A particular amount of money is kept aside for mutual funds while some amount is invested in recurring deposits.
Sharing her experience and learning about investments as an entrepreneur, Shilpi said, “The first advice would be to have a good financial planner. It makes sense to invest money there. Believe me, the investment will give you a much bigger ROI. And then you can invest your money in your business to grow your business at whatever pace you like. “
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Make a start!
The experiences of these women entrepreneurs make it clear that entrepreneurship is empowering, in the sense that it allows the freedom to follow your passion and experiment with it. The sense of being your boss is important as it allows you to deal with the challenges in your way. As far as finance and investment is concerned, it requires planning, management skills and a defined thought process. If there is a passion, make a start, manage time and money, think about investments and become your boss. The determination to follow the passion will unfold ways to deal with the challenges as it did for the four women entrepreneurs.