My role as co-founder of Eazelly, The Collective for all things Hand-made, Heart-made and Thoughtfully Sourced, involves me talking to young budding entrepreneurs in India on a daily basis. Most of these businesses are start-ups initiated by women, primarily working from home. This has got me thinking about their stories – what has worked for some them, what hasn’t and in general, what skills are needed to build a successful heart-made Home Business in India.
So, for what it’s worth, here’s my two-pence on what any home-grown aspiring start-ups in India should keep in mind.
Don’t stray too far from your passions
The most successful businesses are the ones who have stayed true to what they set out to do, especially if the concept behind the business was to create hand-made & heart-made products. If the goal is just make tonnes of money then there was no need to quit that high-paying plush consulting job. Find out what it is you love to do and build a successful business around your passions and interests. Heart-made entrepreneurs are the kinds who are in it for the long haul.
My pick for the passionate hand-made product is – Hedonista, a brand that sells hand-made bath & beauty products.
Don’t look to re-invent the wheel all the time
Yes, we all look at Zomato and want to be that ‘unique’ Indian start-up that went global. But let’s face it, one of the biggest advantages of being an emerging economy is that we can take ideas that have worked across the Atlantic and bring them home. Of course, we can add our own zing, personality and desiness to the idea!
Look at Snapdeal (inspired by Amazon), Samosapedia (inspired by Urban Dictionary) and Careem (inspired by Uber) and many more. Sometimes all it takes is identifying that gap in the market.
My pick for the hand-made brand that took a regular product and added lots of heart to it is – Aditi Bhatt Accessories.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people
One of the most surprising behaviour I noticed in Indian small business owners was the hesitation in talking to people about new ideas, because they are afraid their designs will be copied! Come on guys, Silicon Valley wasn’t built on paranoia. Talk to your family and friends! Find mentors! If you don’t have a conducive environment around you, then join an incubator or an accelerator.
While there are many incubators in India, the one I had an excellent experience with was with Kyron in Bangalore.
Don’t quit your day job too soon
I absolutely believe that you have to give your business your 100%, but giving up your only source of income even before you have decided exactly what you want to do is not the best decision from my experience. This is especially true if you want to start your own business from home. There are too many 20-somethings in the country trying new ideas on a monthly basis!
So instead, save money and explore a few ideas by discussing them with your friends and mentors, before you actually take the plunge and quit your day job to follow your dreams. Work on your ideas after work hours or come up with pre-launch strategies. And remember, the road is long and weary and every penny will count when the winter comes.
Go Hard or Stay Home
This brings me to my last, but not-so-Eazy, tip – work bloody hard.
Remember most home start-ups have a long gestation period, and even though VC funds in India are at an all-time high you will still need to bring the business up to a certain point before you get that funding. And while capital outlay required in home businesses is much lesser; you will still need to put in all-nighters to build your brand, sacrifice your social life and replace beers with servers. You have to be absolutely certain you want to do this and dedicate your life to it.
So work hard or stick to the 9 to 5!