My career story starts over a dinner table. Mum commented (yet again) on how tough it was to do everything on her own so I offered to take over some of the admin if she gave me part of the company. Years later, I moved away to Ireland and mum moved to Singapore, so the company stopped being what it was. More because I got a corporate job in Dublin that I really, really, really wanted to do.
I had no intention of ever being a business owner, managing my own staff, worrying about people’s salaries or anything like that! Little did I know that life had other plans for me.
For six years in Ireland, I worked in various roles – medium size organisations, non-for profits and a Fortune 500 company (Accenture). I truly enjoyed my time in each company, learnt a lot about project management and many other skills. Eventually in 2008, I decided to return to India, take a break, try something different and spend a year traveling the country, exploring new parts, writing, reading, photographing.
As luck would have it, post MBA in 2010, I decided not to head back into what I was doing but try my hand with smaller companies and start-ups and so began my journey in this world. Being a part of senior management within a company that was growing 300%+ per annum, one ends up having to do a lot themselves and be responsible for everything, just like every other person in senior management! I began to see opportunities in a different way and as the company expanded, I became an entrepreneur and then a business owner, even if it was only in the form of a small shareholder.
And thus, started my real entrepreneurial journey back in 2011 on a holiday in India with The Costume Shop in India. Bar my time in college with my mother’s company, this was my first serious effort. As I got more and more involved in owning a company, I realised a few things:
An entrepreneur and a business owner are two different things!
Anyone can own a company or have a stake in one, but few can have the vision to drive it. The vision needs to be long term and not just work around the lifestyle choices that drove you to start the company – whether that be the need to work part-time, being a carer, being a mother, being a wife or deciding to take time for other aspects of life – there is no harm in being either one
It is not the easy way out
Running your own company is a full time job. If you don’t work and meet results, you suffer the most. It may give you certain freedom and flexibility but that doesn’t come cheap!
It needs to be scalable
A company can only be a real business when it is looking beyond and reaching for the stars. No one builds a multi-dollar company by working part-time. You have to be switched on 24/7 and that’s just the way it is!
The company is not about the I
If the company provides a certain service only the person themselves can deliver, there is little room for growth. That’s not entrepreneurship.
For especially these reasons, women often don’t push themselves enough. And so it is a vicious circle.
With these realisations and lessons over the years, I realised I had only been a business owner and entrepreneur to someone else’s business. Earlier this year, with 2 other co-founders ofArtNouv, I decided to make the shift from being employed in a secure job, providing consulting services to other companies and helping them grow to not earning much but trying to build a company that can hopefully become one of the premier companies in the art world in Ireland.
WORDS BY KRITIKA ASHOK. Kritika Ashok has bought, sold and started different businesses during her career. She also has MBA under her belt and is using the knowledge to grow her latest company-ArtNouv. ArtNouv delivers your art, your way.
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