Seriously, Intelligence is Over-Rated.

I used to wonder where the point of getting good to great would happen.

I mean, how do you know when you’re getting really really good at what you’re doing?

Simple. You’ll find people, a steadily growing number of them actually, will want to meet you. Not because you’re known or something, and yeah, that happens to happen anyway, but because what you do is getting the results people want.

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So, we are seeing a lot of tense hesitation with women when they transition between where they are, to where they need to be. The Real versus the Ideal states.

We find that all this is to a very large extent, a state of mind.

Through our interviews, discussions, coaching and events, more and more we are realizing women do not take the step into the unknown, simply because it’s the unknown.

Sure, you’re probably thinking how is this different from the way men think, correct?

Correct. To look at it from the surface it is human nature to resist change and resist it we will. Excuses, delays, avoidance and denial flood our minds and stop us dead in our tracks, sometimes self-indulgence in opting to be mentally paralyzed too.

But, studies have shown that when it comes t0 us women, these challenges tend to take on a slightly if not grossly skewed shape. We have a gender based lens that enables us to perceive events that lead us to go into self- deprecation. We bring ourselves down, and filter situations from this world view.

In due course this takes us into a loop which stops us from progressing to getting to that ‘ really really good space’ aka, becoming experts at what we do.

Some of of the basics that can incrementally lead to disengaging this thought process are:

  1. Developing a clear Leadership Vision
  2. Self- Confidence Building
  3. Understanding what Success Means to us
  4. Networking
  5. Influencing and negotiating
  6. Others

We invite yoou to take notice of the fact that core skills around what you do have consciously not been mentioned here, as we consider that a given for success.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we at #VibhaWomen plan on addressing these facets via our workshops that will work in tandem with more sharing of thoughts and experiences that you can read here as well.

 

Join us either at our workshops or read more about this here shortly.

We also invite you to share your own thoughts around this.

More to follow, see ya soon.

 

The author is an Educationist, Social Entrepreneur and Coach

Twitter: #CarolineVibha

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #carolinecaresfernandes

Caroline Cares Fernandes

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Remind Yourself & Keep Going!

Do you remember Why you became an entrepreneur?

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This thought and reason should be crystal clear in your head.
Keep reminding yourself and encourage yourself to venture deeper into this concept-
You could have been doing something else, been somewhere else

WHY did I become an entrepreneur?
HOW can I make a difference to the people I have sought to offer my time and effort to?

At the start,it’s ok because there will be a lot of rumble and noise in your head. You may have to win over the fears and doubts you have been building skillfully within you.

But when you can effortlessly narrow this idea down to a single sentence your actions become an extension of your thoughts

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Keep Going!

 

The author is a Social Entrepreneur & Learner.

Get in touch to know more about Vibha Women

twitter: Caroline Vibha

Caroline Cares Fernandes

A business must either solve a problem or satisfy a need. Pustaka does both!

A great business idea is nothing but finding a solution to a problem that you as an individual face and know that there is a market for this solution. Your idea gets validated when others facing the same problem are excited about your solution and are willing to pay for it. 

In our Share Your Story series that aims to showcase women entrepreneurs, we are excited to share the story of Pustaka!

Nivetha Padmanaban is founder of Pustaka, a one-stop ebook shop focused on vernacular Indian languages.

Thanks to Nivetha for volunteering to share the story.

nivetha

My native is Madurai, Tamil Nadu. I graduated MCA from Madurai Kamaraj University in 1998. I worked at various IT companies for 15 years and worked for 9 years with ThoughtWorks, Bangalore. My stay with ThoughtWorks gave me good exposure in all verticals and few of my ex-TWer friends quit and started their own startup. That is how I got to know about startup world and the challenges in that world. The challenges involved in making the startup always attracted me. Being a TWer means it involves lots of travel and I saw this problem of non-availability of regional language books for Indians living in other countries. We are solving so many complex problems for the client and I thought why not solve our problem using same skills and technology. So I decided to start this venture to experience the startup world and provide a technology solution for book lovers.

The gap

I love to read books in my native language (Tamil) more than any other language. Since the age of 10, as soon as I pick up a book, I forget the world around me. I terribly missed them whenever I travel to other countries. Friends living in other countries also shared the same pain. That’s how I decided to start my own venture on ebooks focused on Indian languages.

After the first article about us, I received many mails from different countries appreciating the effort and idea. I always knew there is a gap, but I realized the need is much more than I thought.

About Pustaka

pustaka logo for web

Pustaka aims to be a one-stop shop for readers of any language of India. We hope to digitize some of the rare literary works so that these priceless collections can be preserved for the future generations. But underlying all these ambitions is our burning desire to enable readers to have ready access to books that they want to read no matter where they are.  An E-book shop for vernacular Indian languages. These e-books are available for purchase as well as lending.

Pustaka boasts of books in Tamil, Kannada,Telugu and Malayalam languages by well known authors such as Subha, Pattukottai Prabhakar, Kalki, Vimala Ramani, Yandamoori Veerendranath, E Santhosh Kumar, Sivasankari, Kommuri Venugopal Rao, Shyamala Madhav and many more!

Overcoming Challenges

My business involves lots of manual typing work, where one has to manually type the complete printed book into Word to create the ebook. I am dealing with 4 different languages and thousands of books. I tried so many options including outsourcing, part-time employees, full-time employees etc. Finally, I addressed this by delegating to college girls from poor family backgrounds. This income helps their family and fund their studies and they are very committed. I am happy that this small income helps them to continue their studies.

Traction

Pustaka is still new and I am trying various marketing strategies to reach book readers. To be honest, I still have not found the strategy which works for me. But, I understand this is something which I have to keep trying till I find something that works for me.

My Role Model

My friend Savita Rao who is no more. I learned how to be self-confident, the importance of self-respect, to make bold decisions, to sometimes ignore people and move-on, the importance of keeping your dreams alive and many many more aspects of life.

Dear Women Entrepreneurs

Women form half of the population, which means that much potential is untapped.

According to me, women are natural leaders, they have great focus, very passionate at what they do and good at handling multiple tasks at the same time. Women can achieve much much more if they understand their potential.

My only advice is, there is no good or bad time to start your own. Start NOW, then you will find ways to solve the problems as and when it comes. In this internet era, mompreneurs has various opportunities which provides the flexibility they want.

“Fail Fast” is the mantra which I follow all the time.

 


Spread the word about the story by liking/commenting/sharing!

We encourage our readers to check out Pustaka’s website and social profiles for more details!

Website: http://www.pustaka.co.in/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PustakaDigitalMedia

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pustakabook

9 NIFTY WAYS TO BOOTSTRAP YOUR BUSINESS

Bootstrap

One often hears people complain that they do not have enough capital to start a business. Sure you need money to get your idea off the ground but do you really need venture funding or bank loans when you barely have any customers? Remember, it’s not easy to attract investors if you haven’t gained traction first.  

Do not be discouraged. It’s better to start with less capital than to invest a large amount when you are starting out.

Enter bootstrapping.

Here’s a little background about the term. As per WikipediaTall boots may have a tab, loop or handle at the top known as a bootstrap, allowing one to use fingers or a boot hook tool to help pulling the boots on. The saying “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps” was already in use during the 19th century as an example of an impossible task.”

Bootstrapping

image source :sxsw.com

Bootstrapping in business parlance, means starting and growing your business with little or no capital. The entrepreneur attempts to build the company from personal funds or from the revenue generated by the new company.
Needless to say bootstrapping is also HARD WORK.

We rounded up a few bootstrapping tips you may want to seriously consider

Validate

All ideas are amazing! However what matters is if people are willing to pay in return for your product or service. Research the market, check if someone else is offering something similar or find out the pain points that are not addressed. It’s easier to monetize when you are offering a solution that is currently not available. Ask people if they would be willing to pay for solution. If yes, get them to pay.

Find a partner

Doing it all by yourself can be intimidating and stressful. Find someone (friend or family) who shares your passion for the idea and is willing to join as a partner. There are many who are keen on joining a startup as a partner but not everyone will have the necessary skill or resilience. Pick wisely. Look for complementing skills. Be transparent about what’s in store.

Crowdfunding

A great way to test your idea and get funded to build a prototype, is crowdfunding. There are various platforms such as Indiegogo and Wishberry that help you promote your idea to a larger audience for a commission. Watch and learn from some of the successful campaigns before you launch your own.

Home office Vs Store front

Time to convert that dining area (in case you don’t have a garage) into your office. Irrespective of whether your offering is a product or service, setting up an office or store front is a big no unless your business necessitates it. You don’t want to burn your pockets paying rent, electricity and other maintenance charges when you are bootstrapping. If you do need a office, try affordable co-working spaces. It may turn out to be an advantage networking with similar like-minded people.

Marketing

Oh damn! Where do I get the money from for advertising and PR? Fear not. There are other inexpensive ways to promote your business. First and foremost being your customers. If your offering is remarkable your customers will be your brand ambassadors.

Digital marketing is another low-cost marketing channel. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Blogs, SEO, Email marketing etc can be used effectively to grow your business. Remember that you don’t need to be on all the platforms. Find out where your target audience is and then put a strategy together to attract and convert them. Digital Marketing involves nurturing and providing something of value before you expect a sale. Reward your customers for introducing more users/customers to your business. It’s a proven customer retention method.

Cold-calling and speaking engagements are other tactics to promote your business without having to spend a huge amount of money.

Don’t hire. Outsource. Or better Do-It-Yourself!

Unless absolutely necessary, do not hire. Outsource design/development work. It also wouldn’t hurt to learn to code if you have to build a prototype. You don’t need to be afraid to learn something new.

Do your own accounting and business development.

Track expenses closely. Be thrifty.

That MacBook Air/iPhone 6 can wait. So can the posh office.

Avail free online services to manage communication/storage/tracking. Gmail, Google Drive/Docs, Dropbox etc have sufficient free stuff to get you through your initial stages.

Cut personal expenses where possible. Remember the quote

Entrepreneurship is about living a few years of your life like others won’t so that you can live the rest of your life like others can’t

Track all the expenses like a hawk. Don’t use your personal account. Open a business account. You must know at all times what your pending receivables are. Closely track what is diminishing your cash. Use expensing tracking tools or better, use MS-Excel.

Network. Network. Network

People help people.

Attend networking/entrepreneurship events. Talk about your business and tell people how it solves a problem. But don’t forget to listen. You never know, you might end-up collaborating with another business or might get someone interested in funding your business. But don’t network only with the intention of raising funds. Be willing to help someone. Answer questions people may have about your industry. Join groups on Meetup, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not just groups relevant to entrepreneurship but also interest groups. Follow industry influencers on Twitter.

Persevere

Winston Churchill said “If you are going through hell, keep going”.

Perseverance is about not giving up rather than about talent or knowledge. You can’t learn perseverance but learn from the mistakes you make early on and make changes. Never lose sight of your goal. It’s better to take risks than regret.

If at first customers don’t turn up, analyze what went wrong. Tweak your offering or maybe your conversion methodology needs to be reworked. Re-negotiate that deal with your vendor/supplier. Ask for help. Do whatever it takes. But don’t ever give up.

Like we said at the beginning, bootstrapping is hard work. Entrepreneurship is a journey. If you are remarkable at what you do, it won’t be long before your dreams are realized.

We recommend you read books such as The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Rework by Jason Fried for bootstrapping and lean startup methodologies.

Let us know the 10th tip for bootstrapping. Better, share your bootstrapping experience.

20 inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs by the ones who never gave up

Have you ever asked yourself if entrepreneurship is worth all the stress that comes along with it? You sometimes wish that you hadn’t taken the proverbial “road less traveled”.

But what we all actually need is a little push. Some inspiration. Something that sets your heart racing and gets you back on the saddle.

A handful of inspiring quotes from the ones who never gave up to the ones that won’t either!

Let us know what keeps you motivated. What are your favorite quotes? We’ll be glad to hear from you!

Mridula Arora, Founder of MyBabyCart has built a business that is empowering mompreneurs and helping them regain self-esteem, confidence and most importantly financial independence.


We are thrilled to bring you another inspiring story this week of Mridula Arora, Founder of MyBabyCart.

Mridula is one of our esteemed panelists in Vibha’s launch event on 14th February 2015.

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Mridula Arora did her engineering from NIT Kurukshetra and worked in the IT industry for 12 years in companies such as Infosys and payment startup mChek before starting MyBabyCart.

MyBabyCart is an online platform for mompreneurs and women to showcase and sell their exclusive products for babies, kids and women.

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MyBabyCart didn’t start out this way. The story of how it evolved is inspiring. We’ll let Mridula share her incredible entrepreneurial journey and how MyBabyCart is empowering and transforming the lives of many mompreneurs! 

What was your AHA moment? What made you start your own business?

After I had a baby, I thought of starting my own business as it gave me flexibility of time and helped me maintain my own identity. During this endeavor I realized I must help many more moms who are educated and quite talented but have left their job to take care of their kids.

I strongly believe that women in India are enterprising by nature, so entrepreneurship comes naturally to them.

I grew up in joint family and women in our house used to do lot of crochet, knitting and embroidery work. I was really inspired by that and wanted to do something for such talented women who make amazing stuff at home but have no avenue to sell them.

Tell us about MyBabyCart.

MyBabyCart (MBC for short) is an online platform for women entrepreneurs who are Moms as well whom I love to call ‘Mompreneurs’.

MBC is a platform to help them re-gain their self-esteem, confidence and financial freedom.

We aim to help moms build business out of their passion –  they make products of their choice and capability and then we help them to reach out to far-flung customers online. 

MBC is a strong community of 150+ Mompreneurs, growing every day.

MBC provides complete infrastructure to sell products online. We help moms do the cataloging of products, provide complete logistics, customer service & marketing support. Once an order is placed, all the Mompreneur needs to do is pack the product and keep it ready for pickup from her place.

MBC leverages the power of the Internet through its distributed organization model. Our ‘customer moms‘ solve all our customer queries from their home. Our ‘product moms‘ describe products beautifully in words by looking at sample of products sent to their home. Our ‘mother bloggers‘ have immense knowledge and many ideas to share with our readers via their blogs. 

Tell us about the challenges you faced when you started and how you overcame them?

My Baby Cart started in 2012 with 4 founders with initial funding from family & friends. We managed to launch a website and began work. It started out as a platform for selling children products but by January 2013 we were at the verge of shutting shop due to lack of investment. But I decided to take over the domain and started working on different ideas from scratch. Firstly I started working with offline retailers but it was little difficult to convince them and meet the T&Cs. During this time I was very clear about the need to provide unique merchandise to customers via MBC platform. Finally by December 2013, I started working with moms & realized they are the ones that I can help and have amazingly unique merchandise. Its been an amazing journey since then and I’ve met many talented Mompreneurs and learned a lot! 

For me this journey has been about failing fast, trying new things, doing what I believed in and finally being successful.

Here are a couple of pics from mompreneurs’ meet that I’m part of.

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Bangalore Mompreneurs’ Meet

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Mumbai Mompreneurs’ Meet

What marketing strategies did you use when you first started?

Our strategy was simple. Grow with the community of Moms. Help to build the community of mompreneurs and reach out to moms through various networks and groups. As an online platform we try to take all the pain of selling and try to ease the journey of mompreneurs as much as we can.

Do you have any role models/books that have inspired you?

I am very inspired by Derek Sivers of CDBaby who created a website for independent musicians & gave them a platform to sell their CDs online.

Inspirational books like Magic of Thinking Big make you realize that your biggest resource is your mind. So think big and then try to exceed them!

What is your advice for women entrepreneurs, mompreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t fear falling and have the courage to walk again!  


Don’t forget to check out  MBC’s website www.mybabycart.com for some great products for kids and newborns.

If you are interested in registering yourself as a Mompreneur and selling then please visit

http://mybabycart.com/content/22-sell-on-mybabycart

You can also follow MyBabyCart’s social profiles. They have some interesting articles/blogs for parents!

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mybabycartstore

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mybabycart


Vibha thanks Mridula for sharing her story! Please leave your comments below if you’ve found the article interesting. Yeah…and share away!