Hello again, and this week I bring to you a lot of wisdom on birthing a new business idea and how to turn it into a profitable venture from this very experienced #Bosswoman who is equally beautiful inside and out – Rubina Guleria
She has over 19 years of incremental experience in successfully creating profitable businesses from a customer-first base. Her forte being-Entrepreneurship, Client experience, Operations, Cosmetology, Large-scale geographically disperse-project management, Leadership, Healthcare.
A lot of learning coming your way in the wonderful insights shared by her in this tête-à-tête.
Q1: How did the idea for your business come about?
Rubina: I am a wellness junkie! Seriously speaking though I regularly practice wellness, mindfulness, self care and meditation. In Bangalore, given the notorious traffic, traveling to a class or a spa for self-care is anything but relaxing. Post a self-care session one is sitting in traffic for a minimum of an hour to get home. In 2008 I was working in London (for ministry of Defense, UK) and my husband was in the US and my kids were in a hostel in Ooty! Being in the IT that had been our life. So one day I realized that it couldn’t go on for another decade; and I wanted to spend time with the kids before they get to college. So I quit IT and moved to Bangalore with no plans in mind. My return to chaotic Bangalore, love for self-care and the fact I have always wanted to build a business for myself I conceptualized India’s first spa-to-home business. One could take all the top premium spa and salon services in the comfort of their homes. As with all new business ideas it took us a year to get our game right. In the following years my business won two Asia Spa titles, national and internationally, was shortlisted among the top 10 best experiences in Bangalore by India Today, we were featured by Femina twice and Business Standard. We operated wellness hubs in the corporate offices for IT majors as part of our corporate arm for Intel Technologies, HP, Google, Accenture, InMobi etc. I sold the business in 2015 for a profitable exit 🙂
2- My second start up is colorshots- leadership insights: (2012-ongoing) I have interviewed industry greats in Bangalore. These are interviews of VCs, successful founders, and coaches. It’s on sleep mode for various reasons but soon to be revived with interviews of people from Hyderabad!
3- The third start up that I was part of is http://www.getgrowfit.com as a Director for Client Experience (business dev programs). We created fresh food and packaged foods that were keto compliant. The fresh food was offered in Chennai and Bangalore and packaged food was India wide. In one year I grew revenues from zero to 26 lacs monthly. I exited earlier this year as the business pivoted to a cloud-kitchen model that didn’t interest me. https://getgrowfit.com/
4- I am now birthing a One-ingredient beauty product business- launch sometime March 2020! break-a-leg
Q2: What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
Rubina: It’s not just one thing but rather a set of skills that one finds within self. During my IT stints internationally and in India I realized I was very good at understanding business needs of ground up profitability, innate problem solver and that a job was not doing justice to it all. Over and above that the need to build something good is what drives me. However, if i were to pin point it, I would say I thrive in challenges and ambivalence of taking a profitable decision with few data points. Cause, hey in a new and growing business ones’ got to roll with the punches as they come!
Q3. How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
Rubina: This is a great question. One of the biggest challenges that small-medium businesses or start ups face is cash deployment in marketing. There is hardly enough to put in marketing. And marketing has no cookie cutter ROI if any. One of the early decisions I took was to never discount and to not run campaigns willy nilly. We invested greatly in client experience- how was the client being treated, responded to and nurtured. A satisfied customer will drive more customers to you. We invested in creating a tribe that believed in us and drove their friends and family to us. We worked some very smart renewals and references programs with great persistence and results. That is the most bankable tactic. It was broken down to how we hired (did the people we were hiring understand customer pain points and customer care), how we tailored services, and how we interacted with our vendors! Vendor management is among the most neglected arts! In lean times our vendors were more than happy to oblige an extended credit line cause they were so invested in our business.
Q4. What piece of advice would you give to women who would start a business of their own.
Rubina: Here are a few:
1- Act early: Validate the market early, iterate early, kill whats not working in the business early, fire early, respond to customer escalation early.
2- Be very clear on the why, the how will take care of itself. 3- Know your strengths and weaknesses- delegate your weaknesses and play to your strength.
4- Question everything.
5- ASK people for help! Whatever you are doing, someone would have done it before (in part if not all) either better than you or nearly as good. It doesn’t matter. Learning from other people’s experience shortens your learning curve dramatically- saves you time and energy and MONEY.
6- Don’t get hung on ideas- execution is the catalyst. Ideas are cheap.
7- Believe in yourself- more every day. Failures are a mirror to what we are yet to learn. Learn and move on, it’s not personal.
8- Treat your employees with care and kindness and be smart about it.
9- Know your business- right down to the minutiae- it counts.
10- Get yourself a circle of go-to-pick-me-up people. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and there are dark days. It’s priceless to be able to get some insights, love and joy from a set of people who have your back- not necessarily family.
Q 5. What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
Rubina: Here are some I follow regularly:
1- Daily MORNING goal setting and planning.
2- Have a set of advisors / wise friends who will keep you accountable on your goals (you meet once a month and share your monthly goals and do a fact check end of the month) It helps to keep you driven and disciplined as being the boss one can easily slip into pushing things endlessly since one isn’t answerable to anyone!
3- Follow personal discipline of exercise / meditation / reading to sharpen focus.
She is currently working on birthing a business till then you can check out the following link for how other founders created great businesses. Among other interviews there is Vani Kola who created her startup with a new born baby and later sold it for some 200 million in the US. She now owns the Kalaari VC fund. We have Saama, founder RedBus and quite a few more. They share real life advice, ideas, inspiration and vision. Check it here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxIgyW6GO2v5tuPVK4sR8Bg
Thank you so much for so many valuable inputs. We are definitely looking forward to see what you come up with next! Wishing you all the best.