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  • Gulab Jaipur

Starting a business in Covid-19

While I am being told that a blog is a great place to share details on your products, business, and whatever else you think your shoppers might like to hear from you but I think I'd like to write my first blog about how I came to start my business right in the face of the pandemic, which is still prevailing! 

Starting a business is never easy and starting it in a time where the country is bouncing from one lockdown to another, flights being a handful and logistic partners being terrified of taking you on board, well that's another level of experience. You are your own boss that's correct, but you're your salesperson, photographer, graphic designer, and sometimes your own coolie. While many of my friends are professionals with their Monday to Friday job, weekends off, a great on-time pay-check, I wanted something else. I want to become someone who empowers other people and while many people near me, we're concerned that starting a new venture in this situation might not be your best idea to date, but I couldn't resist.


Having a successful precious gemstone and jewelry manufacturing business, "Gulab Jewels", it was during an exhibit in Mumbai in February 2020, that it dawned upon me that I need to expand my brand "Gulab". While I am a freelance jewelry maker without a retail store, most of my work is B2B and for people who come to know me through word of mouth. I was convinced that I need something additional in my portfolio that is sustainable and fuels me round the year. 

Handblock print was a no-brainer. Being born and brought up in Jaipur, Rajasthan, I have been around handmade products my entire life. My mother, my aunts have all been connoisseurs of hand block print and it is something I immensely admire. One of my principles in life is that one must work for something that inspires them to be there best self and they must have admiration for the work they do. Only then, can one find passion and enthusiasm in what they do?


I began my research in March and started building my theme. I started reading about this space, interacting with people in this space, planned out my finances and laid down a plan. It was during one of my interactions that I came across artisans who had been tirelessly working in this space, all their lives but were laid off due to Covid-19. I explained to them what I wanted in mind and gave attention to their advice and suggestions. I realized this was it, and that there was no turning back. I found my dream team, as I fondly call them. Being a startup, I knew my bandwidth is limited, the funds are limited but my ideas weren't. Their unfading support is the backbone of my brand. We are a tiny family, all about discussions, debates, Bollywood musical mornings, and tea evenings.

Moving on to some marketing talks, my experience as a Shark Tank fan, helped me so much in finding out my passion. As an entrepreneur, the first advice I'd want to pass on to anybody would be finding something that you love. Blackberry had a tag line, 'Love what you do, do what you love', that's what I am talking about. Choosing one particular niche, developing and expanding it is a smart way of doing things, rather than juggling into 10 different domains and later on pulling your hair and being a mess (I tried that, so trust me on being a mess part). Another thing besides my research that I did was, brushing up on a lot of marketing concepts. No, I didn't pick up Kotler's books, instead, I starting registering up for webinars for startups, digital marketing, social media management, etc. They were an incredible help to me while planning my journey. Kraftshala webinars were quite good, especially where Sambit Dash, VP marketing for Mama Earth, who has worked for brands like Nestle India and Taco Bell gave live examples of unique marketing campaigns created to grab the attention of their target market. I still register on webinars of Mad over marketing. Though they are paid they give such wonderful insights which frankly I had ignored because I didn't know little things mattered, but they do. Handblock print was a no-brainer. Being born and brought up in Jaipur, Rajasthan, I have been around handmade products my entire life. My mother, my aunts have all been connoisseurs of hand block print and it is something I immensely admire. One of my principles in life is that one must work for something that inspires them to be there best self and they must have admiration for the work they do. Only then, can one find passion and enthusiasm in what they do?
I began my research in March and started building my theme. I started reading about this space, interacted with people in this space, planned out my finances and laid down a plan. It was during one of my interactions that I came across artisans who had been tirelessly working in this space, all their lives but were laid off due to Covid-19. I explained them what I wanted in mind and gave attention to their advices and suggestions. I realised this was it, and that there was no turning back. I found my dream team,as I fondly call them. Being a startup, I knew my bandwidth is limited, the funds are limited but my ideas weren't. Their unfading support is the backbone of my brand. We are a tiny family, all about discussions, debates, Bollywood musical mornings and tea evenings.

As an entrepreneur, the first advice I'd want to pass on to anybody would be finding something that you love. Blackberry had a tag line, 'Love what you do, do what you love', that's what I am talking about. Choosing one particular niche, developing and expanding it is a smart way of doing things, rather than juggling into 10 different domains and later on pulling your hair and being a mess (I tried that, so trust me on being a mess part). Another thing besides my research that I did was, brushing up on a lot of marketing concepts. I starting registering up for webinars for startups, digital marketing, social media management, etc. They were an incredible help to me while planning my journey. Kraftshala webinars were quite good, especially where Sambit Dash, VP marketing for Mama Earth, who has worked for brands like Nestle India and Taco Bell gave live examples of unique marketing campaigns created to grab the attention of their target market. I still register on webinars of Mad over marketing. Though they are paid they give such wonderful insights which frankly I had ignored because I didn't know little things mattered, but they do.
So here's my 2 cents on starting a business with or without a pandemic:
1. There's never a right time to start a business. If you believe in your idea and you're willing to do whatever it takes, any time is a good time. It won't be a smooth journey, you'll come across lows and super lows but you need to bounce back. That's what I believe is entrepreneurship.
2. The first step is to define your idea, do market research, and develop a concept around it. When I mentioned above, that you need to focus on a particular aspect, it can be started with one product line and then gradually move towards diversification. All big entrepreneurs started out with one product/ service and then moved on to expanding it. Don't panic over 10 things, just panic over 1!
3. Define your TM or Target Market. Your target audience is your interpretation of who will buy your product or service. You need to be clear on what is your demographic- answer these questions
- What is their age group
- What is their gender 
- What is their occupation
- How much will they be willing to spend 
- What is their income 
- What are there tastes and preferences
- Which city they live in 
The list can be quite long and it is really important to nail this point. 
4. Once you have an idea about your product and your target audience, the next step is building your product or service. Make sure you have your budget defined and keep 10% of your budget aside because that's your rainy-day money. Today is all about smart work, rather than hard work. Whether you're making your own product or service or trading it through somebody, you need to ensure all quality checks because ultimately it's only retaining consumers who make a business successful. 
5. The most important thing in today's business world as my father always says, "he/she who can sell, is the one who rules". I abide by this, 100%. In today's times, manufacturing, processing, supply chain everything can be done without hassle, the real deal, however, is selling your product or service. 
Selling is an art and you need to master it. In order to do that, you need to draw a plan as to how will you acquire customers. In a country with 135 crore people, there is nothing that you're doing, which someone else isn't doing. So how do you get your customer?
The answer is marketing. Whether it is B2B or B2C, marketing will fuel your selling process. It can be done in various forms and digital is one of the fastest-growing leg of marketing. You must research the methods you can adopt for your business, whether it is Linkedin marketing, social media marketing, google ads, etc. Attend webinars showing real case scenarios of marketing tactics, they are such a blessing. Try subscribing to any blogs pertinent to marketing. My all-time favorite is Mad over marketing. Subscribe to their articles or you can just follow them on Instagram and Facebook. I absolutely love these guys!
Lastly, it takes courage to build something of your own.

Each day will have new problems, new solutions but you need to have perseverance. That's the key!
Good luck


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