The Call of the Heart

I once asked my 12-year-old fashion-conscious cousin what she wanted to be when she grew up. Pat came the answer, “A fashion designer, of course!” (this, in addition to her insistence of being already a grown up). As she declared her, most obvious, choice, she had a happy glean in her eyes and the biggest smile on her face.

Her spontaneous reaction had me thinking. How many of us can claim to have had similar clarity about our dream professions at a similar stage of life? Even more, how many of us can claim to have followed that passion and driven it to a profession of our choice?

Maybe like many others, we too drifted into the comforts of our jobs in established firms and feared charting into unknown and uncertain territories, equipped merely with the passion and belief in the idea. How many of us can truly claim to have followed the true “Call of the Heart”.

I have tried to illustrate the series of steps we go through in our search for our ideal profession (including our losing the plot, every so often) through the “Funnel of Entrepreneurial Passion”.

Hearing the Signs versus Listening to the Signs
The sounds of our passion play like the background music of movies, almost all the time. Be it the yearning for cooking or a special interest in travel and exploring new destinations. We all have something that we completely enjoy doing or that is second nature to us. If those are the sounds you are hearing, maybe there is need to “listen” harder and more attentively. The best test in “listening to the sounds of passion” is to ask yourself – what would you love spending the rest of your life doing?

Sumitra Senapaty chose to ‘listen’ to the sounds of her passion. A wanderer at heart, Sumitra is passionate about adventure, wildlife, nature, gourmet foods and wine, and absolutely enjoys travelling and meeting new people. She has been a hotelier and a journalist with the Times of India before becoming a freelance writer, and contributes to various magazines. However, she also realized when she wrote about her travel tales that there were numerous other women who were as passionate about travel but couldn’t pursue their dream, as most had a dearth of good company or an opportunity to travel. She turned her passion into a business opportunity and founded “Women on Wanderlust”, a platform that organizes trips across the globe exclusively for women who want to explore the world.

Taking the plunge
After the “aha” moment, you need all your stock of guts and courage, to convert the idea into a feasible business venture. It could mean facing family resistance, or convincing the people around you to build a support system, or gathering the required resources to start a venture, or spending the first few years just finding a foothold in the industry.

Rashmi Daga, took that plunge, when she founded “Afday” (shortened version of Art for Everyday), a website that presents functional and ornamental art and craft from across India on a common platform. Rashmi is an electrical engineer and an IIMA alumnus, who has worked with corporate firms like IBM, J&J, Tutor Vista for a cumulative of eight years before realizing that her love for art & craft was too strong for keeping it on the backburner for long. It was very important for her to have a collection that would stand out amongst competition and hence she spent six months travelling extensively and building good relations with artisans. With the business being entirely self-funded, she currently works out of her Bangalore apartment. For the initial few years, she will need to painstakingly work on getting the logistics, operations and the product mix right, to scale up her business.

The Skills required
It is an understatement to say that you need to be passionate to become an entrepreneur. You need real high levels of self-belief and single-minded focus to counter numerous ups and downs that come in your way.

This was the first-hand experience of Varsha Bhavnani, who started “Vinegar Exports”, an apparel export house in 2005, after completing her MBA, and a one-year stint in an equity firm. Her journey has taught her how important it is to be able to multitask as an entrepreneur & the skills required for setting up and running a business on your own.

Though her strengths lay in marketing and finance, she couldn’t ignore production, costing, and manufacturing, even though some of these were entirely new to her. She never let her hopes of owning a women’s wear brand diminish. Despite having an MBA degree, she still had to work very hard and research extensively on India’s fashion retail sector, before taking the plunge. She always knew that she had to learn the tricks of the trade well, in order to keep afloat.

The hallmark of a good entrepreneur is tenacity & perseverance. All too often people give up on their dreams when the going gets tough. The ability to multi-task between myriad roles, as most likely it’s going to be a one-person show initially, is also required.

Juggling between manufacturing, marketing, PR, accounting and even managing people is what you will need to master in the early stages of setting up your venture. Keeping an open mind, and quick learning from your past failures and mistakes is very important for continuous growth of your business.

The joy of seeing your dream come alive!
The joy of seeing your product or service with the end user, and seeing the face of a satisfied customer is unparalleled. Doing what you love and following your passion requires immense grit and determination, however it is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding decisions you will ever make.

After all, in life you are either a passenger or a pilot, the choice is yours.

Source(s) : WOW

Posted By: Fatema Jaliwala, Team WEBO
Posted On: October 30, 2012

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