Article

Lessons in Entrepreneurship - The Journey Continues

Lessons in Entrepreneurship - The Journey Continues

Lessons in Entrepreneurship - The Journey Continues

Note

This article is based on the experiences of NK Chaudhary, who redefined the carpet industry, with a clear insurgent mission of helping the rural community and improving the livelihoods of the artisans.

Entrepreneurship is a lifelong journey filled with a lot of experiments and learnings. When I started my journey in 1948, I realized that the people who made the most wonderful carpets were denied basic human rights. This became evident when my family members rejected me while I decided to work with the lower-caste communities that were called untouchables.

I learned my first lesson on that day. ‘If you have determination no one can stop you from achieving your goal.’  It also eventually helped me to become more empathetic and compassionate. These values have permanently found a place in my life.

While the weavers found a companion in me, I found acceptance in their hearts. And together our love prevailed and filling our lives with joy.

So, I believe that transformation happens from within. The more we push ourselves outside our comfort zones the better we learn. It is not about the number of times we succeed, but the evolution of our perspectives over a period of time.   

Below are a few of the lessons that guided me in my self-transformation and my entrepreneurship journey.

Be Curious

Curiosity is a sign of innocence and authenticity. It is the path to evolve into your true potential. As a kid, I was curious about everything. I kept reading and asking questions whenever I got a chance.  From my life, I learned that if you are not curious then all the doors to learning are closed.

Don’t Make Excuses, Find the Solution

It is a human tendency to, find an excuse for why it didn’t work. But will finding that excuse help in solving that problem? No. It won’t. Therefore, rather than making excuses, focus on finding a solution to the problem.

In 1990, I decided to make Gujarat my big production base. But working in far-flung villages also brought practical problems. Without a phone, fax, or Internet, how do you keep track of production? The solution came in the form of a wireless set that I spotted at an exhibition in Ahmedabad.

We installed one repeater (tower) on top of a hill called Sapatura and 15 wireless and fixed stations were set up. Another problem I faced was to carry quality inspectors over rocky terrain, I had to invest in 2 jeeps and 20 motorcycles. This way I could find a way to move ahead.

Problems will of course take time to get fixed, but as long as you are making amendments, you’ll finally get there.

Perseverance is the Key

If you have decided to become an entrepreneur then be ready to feel overwhelmed, excited, and exhausted. During my years in business, I’ve lost money, made mistakes, took risks, and invested innumerable hours in my business. So, my suggestion would be to keep pursuing, until you find a way.

Encourage Disagreements

We are happy when people agree and appreciate us. Although that is important, it shouldn’t become a barrier to our growth. Yes, often people don’t openly share their opinions and this hinders in learning something new. So, encourage disagreements that will lead to a healthy exchange of ideas and new learnings.

Be Courageous to Unlearn

In my initial days, I was agile, learning daily and listening to people.  But when I started to taste success, I became rigid and hard like ice. I didn’t want to change. My life took a U-turn after 21 years of success. Finance, marketing, and designing became a headache for me. I lost most of what I had earned in my life and the organization was near to a shutdown. I wondered what went wrong.

Eventually, I realized that to change my business, I need to change my thinking. After deep introspection, I came to an understanding that I needed to become free-flowing and flexible like water, for my business to flourish. I wanted to unlearn and leave my burden of success and be open to learning to do business. For this, I needed to melt the ice of the ego and see the good in others. I started to listen to people more and empower them to make decisions.

So, if you have decided to experiment and explore then every day is an adventure.  With each new experiment comes a better understanding and with new lessons comes new challenges. Always be ready to unlearn what is not required and learn what is necessary. Life is a continuous journey of learning, unlearning, and relearning.

Don’t Pause

No matter how many challenges you face and how difficult the situation gets don’t give up. Keep moving. Take one small step at a time. It is all part of the process. I think it is patience and consistency that helped me to keep going. The journey might get exhausting, but don’t pause instead reflect at every step, and at some point, this will convert into wisdom.

We Grow Stronger Together

Always remember, entrepreneurship isn’t only about you. You can’t fulfil your dreams without helping others with theirs. While following my dreams, I made it a point to guide those around me. It’s similar to watering the plants even after you pluck their fruits.

My journey with the artisans continues. Every day is wonderful with them as they surprise and inspire me with their creativity and imagination.

About the Author

Radhika Menon is a communications professional with a niche in business writing and storytelling. Among other areas, she focuses on human centric stories and thought leadership.