Monday, 22 May 2017

Once an Entrepreneur always an Entrepreneur! The story of Supriya Pahwa Batra

I come from a 3 generation family business of handicraft and textile export. I began my career in my family business right after college where I pursued Mathematics honours. My family business did not involve technical knowledge and was not really glamorous. It involved working with artisans and factories in remote corners of the country on one hand and international companies located abroad on the other. My friends who chose to work with MNC's seemed to be enjoying more. But Since I was always told that work for what is yours vs work for someone- I decided to stop comparing. I knew it wasn't apples to apples.
The good part was that my business was creative and ever evolving as trend changed every 6 -8 months. The need to reinvent was challenging yet exciting. I worked for about 5 years in the export business -initially assisting my father and eventually developing and handling all aspects of my own accounts.  I was given independence and space to do things my way for the accounts I worked for. . The learning and personal growth was immense. All through, I felt passionate about my work. Other than on the job experience, in my quest to be able to give more to my work, I pursued a Diploma in Textile export merchandise management and also MBA in Family Business at SP Jain.While I was in SP Jain I got married into a business family working in the space of electronic component manufacturing and e-design.
I decided to start contributing to my husband's business and spent the next 2 years working in a totally different set up. .I am not going to say it was a completely thought through decision nor am I going to say it was easy for me. But I had been oriented into business with my father always telling me someday post marriage, if I got married into a different business family, I should be open to adapting myself to the different business environment. Unfortunately, I had to withdraw 2 years after I joined the business as my role was taking more time than I could give at that time-taking care of the two beautiful girls I brought into the world.
With less time on my hands I thought of teaching for a brief period again thinking ‘maybe a school someday’!

Even though I was an employee, I viewed the set up from the owner point of view. The entrepreneur in me could not stay shackled in a job for long but while I was there, I sensed many other opportunities that could be tapped as an entrepreneur given the huge potential in education space. Today, I am working on a new project, with more time on my hands as my girls have grown up. The project is in the education space supported by my family.
The spirit of entrepreneurship inducted by my father when I was young has accompanied me all through my career. . I know it brought in me passion, determination, confidence to make decisions and make things happen and a sense of ownership and pride to be a part of the family work , adaptability to my constantly changing environment, ability to take risks and accept possibility of failure ,bounce back post any set back and keep going forward , ability to spot opportunities in my environment and most importantly ability to constantly learn and grow.
Today, I can't measure my success with numbers as for me the spirit of contributing to the family business/ portfolio is way more satisfying and meaningful and I know I have contributed significantly to both businesses I have been a part of - as a daughter and as a daughter in law.  The experience I gathered, in turn, gives me the confidence to work on my own business plan. 
In a world of fancy jobs with global corporations seeming to promise the life which looks easier and more glamorous - I still come from the school of thought where I feel what synergy families can bring into work by working together in complementary roles can't be replicated; provided the members are inducted to work in complementary roles and go forward to achieve the family goal over their own personal goals. There needs to be that sense of pride and satisfaction in being part of a whole. Induction and handling of relationships is key.
I would like to urge you to spend your energies to identify your vision for the next 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and so on to formulate goals - short term and long term. Work out action plans and timelines to achieve the same. You will need to keep learning, updating knowledge and skills. You may also need to adapt and change the outline and that’s okay.
Choose wisely and choose well. But choose where you want to go and start! Cuz even if you feel you chose wrong somewhere down the line, you can begin again! Making a decision gives you a 50% higher chance of getting it right than no decision at all. Before I conclude I will just say today, given changes in the global scenario, family businesses don't look easy. But Easy may not always as satisfying and rewarding as challenging.. so consider the challenging path as well before you move toward what looks easy !