“Personal clarity – who are you and what drives you is important before anything else. Your own response to situations and things that drive you are a foundation you build your business on. In every business the entrepreneur is the biggest asset and the biggest liability. ”
Sairee Chahal, Co-founder – Fleximoms
Sairee shares her views about entrepreneurship and lots more with The Hatch.
The Hatch: A bit about yourself and a bit about your current venture
Sairee : I grew up mostly in small town India, in and around steel plants and industrial townships. So it was a regular middle class childhood – as one would have in 80’s – days of a solitary TV channel, no internet, lots of reading, book fairs and Russian books, days of pop music and crappy movies, time spent with family, doing things, exploring, just day-dreaming. College was JNU and studied Russian language and International Relations. Got an M.Phil from JNU and decided to get an executive MBA from IMT Ghaziabad just to undo the effect
Started work very early in my career and have dabbled among various things in research, translation, PR, setting up of embassies, writing etc. My first job was at a magazine called A&M and since than have worked in leadership consulting, set up world’s first paper for shippies – Newslink have worked with CII among others.
In 2006, we set up SAITA Consulting to work with SMBs and businesses reinventing themselves. Fleximoms came into picture in 2009 and in 2011 Fleximoms was incorporated as Workflex Solution Pvt Ltd and that occupies a large portion of my time now.
Fleximoms (www.fleximoms.in) is a Workflex readiness specialist – which in simple words means being able to use alternate formats to stay connected to work and workforce – for women professionals and corporates. Fleximoms works with women making work-life choices and helps them connect to opportunities – using community, information, network, coaching among other elements. Fleximoms sanitizes the Workflex pipeline for corporates by connecting it to their business case.
The large part of Fleximoms caters to women professionals – offering them services like the Career Advisory service, Fleximoms 2nd Chance – Back-to-Work-Program for Women, Skill building programs like Seal the Deal, Business Refresher, Growth programs like Money and You, among others. The Corporate team works with companies to build the business case for WorkFlex. It design policies, systems and processes to enable WorkFlex, including flexibility consulting, Flex Work Programs, customized corporate programs, inductions for line and HR teams, diversity audits etc thereby driving the overall adoption of Workflex. The Fleximoms FlexConnect team finds and matches great opportunities and options for women professionals with business interests. These include franchise businesses, associate programs, partner programs etc.
Planning your business – a skill building program organised by Fleximoms.
Fleximoms Community is strung together using online and offline reach. The offline community chapters meet once a month and the online community is growing every day. We also actively partner with the enabling ecosystem for Workflex by working with a network of partners and service providers – like care giving industry, daycare industry, remote-work enabling technology companies etc. All of this is supported by the core team, facilitators, Fleximoms Professional Associates, moderators and evangelists.
The Hatch: What motivated you to be an entrepreneur?
Sairee : I always knew I had be one, not because there is something intrinsically sharp about it but when you can’t stick in a job long enough, have too many questions and have trouble following rules without reason – that is where you head. I dabbled a lot – media, consulting, start-ups and writing – and the process of seeing a business grow and creating one was the one that stuck. So I couldn’t have gone elsewhere.
The Hatch: Describe the challenges and joys of your entrepreneurial journey
Sairee : It is too early to really start reminiscing about it but if one has lasted without realizing how time has flown it can only be good. There is a lot of first-degree experience and learning as one goes about doing things. It is also the best way to find out who your real friends are!
Personally, the most joyous part of the having done what I have is being able look at perspectives beyond me, connect with ideas, people, experiment – I call it ‘joy of creation’. When one is attempting something beyond themselves, failure is bound to show up often – and no one likes that. One just has to learn from it and move to the next thing.
The Hatch: If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Sairee : I would start even earlier. And say NO more often!
The Hatch: What are the three things you would ask aspiring entrepreneurs and startups to focus on?
- Personal clarity – who are you and what drives you is important before anything else. Your own response to situations and things that drive you are a foundation you build your business on. In every business the entrepreneur is the biggest asset and the biggest liability.
- Open and organized at the same time – Being responsive is important but also you can only chase one goal at a time. Figure out which one.
- Find people – There are people out there who do pretty much everything better than you – find them, align them. Stop being your own bottleneck.
The Hatch: What are the common mistakes entrepreneurs make?
Sairee : There is a whole sub text of macho success and chest beating that accompanies entrepreneurial activity these days, almost implying everything is right. Is it? Most entrepreneurs ignore issues of personal growth, organizational skills and corporate governance. Almost all start-ups I know have issues of shareholding, financing, negotiation, fairness and almost all entrepreneurs don’t come with these skills, they are building product and business – but these issues need timely attention. Asking for help – paid or voluntary is a good sign.
The Hatch: What’s your mantra or a one-line thought about entrepreneurship or for entrepreneurs?
Sairee : Don’t park yourself – for success, failure or perfection – go on!
This interview was published in The Hatch