Lessons learned from my year old startup: Sonia Vohra of Venus Comunicare

Sonia Vohra
Sonia Vohra

I am the founder of Venus Comunicare – my public relations agency completed one year.
Taking this leap and starting on my own was a life changing decision.  A change from secure and settled life of an employee to getting into a very unpredictable world of entrepreneurship.  Breaking this glass box took me longer than expected. Trust me, the idea to join some PR firm crossed my mind many times during this period. Each such instance only reinforced my entrepreneur self.
The things I learnt in the last year are no different than the thoughts we come across in biographies and in motivational messages. What makes it different is the experience we gain; and then we start believing in them.
It is not about the business, it is all about the person
Anybody can lead their business to success, provided you remain “Undiluted You”. Remain original with your own concept and ideas you will eventually come across other paths. People will show you different ways, understand those ideas, take some time alone and decide it for yourself. Do not fear them; for each venture either brings success or lessons. In India, professions like hairdressers, tea sellers and tailors were looked down upon and now we have brand chains of these professionals.
Social media is a facilitator, it cannot take over the human contact
Go out and get going, meet people, create your network. Let them know who you are as a real person.  Every meeting is a learning opportunity to interact and understand different thought processes. Meeting people will not necessarily culminate into business opportunity, it will add up to a support system we all should nurture. People may know you by your posts and pictures on social media, they would like to interact with the real you over a cup of coffee to understand the person and possibilities.
Keep an open mind
There is so much to learn and unlearn that a lifetime is not enough. We are a result of the mental and physical conditioning provided by our upbringing.  As we meet people from different backgrounds- be it culture, geography or trade, new avenues open up. Our thinking goes through metamorphosis and it explodes into multi-dimensional zones. Meet people with an open mind and you will bring back gems of wisdom.
It is about what can I do for you, rather than what I will achieve in this
We Care – is a concept that needs to be told and retold in all the possible ways. Client is an individual who needs to be told and assured.  It is all about them, their priorities and expectations. Forget about your business when you are talking to the client about their requirements and their expectations.  People open up only when they trust you, recognize clients as people and not a business opportunity.
It is the zeal and passion to walk that extra mile, to make that extra effort that gives you the edge
Clients want the best at the lowest price and we being a startup are competing with the best brands in the industry.   I actually went to each media house and invited them for an event.  Yes on a shoe string budget without much luxuries- in the process got few blisters and shoe bites.  The end result, we got more than we asked for. Maximum coverage in the newspapers, TV channels and even Radio. The client was satisfied and gave us a second project. Keep your standards high, do your best and let your work speak itself.
Wade through waste
We as startups try to grab every project/ assignment that comes our way. We want to prove our worth and add up to our portfolio. Beware of these acts of desperation, understand the requirements of the project and check if it aligns with your goals.  In last one year, we refused more projects than the number of projects executed by our team.  Time is of essence, these projects are like time killers that we cannot afford.  It is very important to stay focused in the first couple of years, as that is the time in which you take baby steps that set the pace and direction. Choose projects carefully and exceed the clients’ expectations.  Accept only those projects where you can make a measurable difference.  Keep a note of all the opportunities you turn down.
Find your niche and just stick to it
Choose the projects that you are 100% sure to exceed client’s expectations.  Keep a note of all the projects you refuse and work on understanding the nuances of its implementation.  We are a startup on a growth path, keeping in mind that first couple of years are most crucial for the team to get confidence and a name in the market.  It is just like birth of a child, balancing its neck is most critical part of growing only then will come sitting, crawling, walking and running.
Rome was not built in a day, have patience
The most beautiful thing yet frustrating at times is to move at a slow pace while working on the foundation of business. We want to make it big, achieve everything as soon as we start. This passion and enthusiasm is the best part of a start-up, the fun and cheer in achieving milestones gives immense satisfaction. At the same time it boosts morale of the team to do more, to quickly achieve more. As an entrepreneur I decided to slow down, to take fewer projects, all to ensure that we have the processes in place.  Organizations should be process oriented and not person dependent- a mantra stuck with me from the corporate world.
Be calm and enjoy
Whenever you think you cannot do it, tell yourself – giving up is not an option. It’s like adopting a pet.  Whatever happens, overcome all odds, learn the ropes, persist and things will start happening. All the while, make sure you have fun. You didn’t quit the rat- race just so you re-enter it. You made a choice of entrepreneurial life to take charge of your life, it is your dream- build it. Every accomplishment will remind you that the choice was correct.
Stepping into the 2nd year with all the lessons learnt and open for learning and unlearning life. Lets achieve more together..!

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