Right from August 2007, when we started SaleRaja, it has been like a baby for me. It was something on which we had great hope. SaleRaja was supposed to be our way out of normal day-to-day jobs. I never thought I would have to work for any other company again at that time, and we even got a promising response in the beginning. But soon, the growth in terms of traffic and registrations began to steady out and it was clear that we would need a lot more funding and resources to scale it up to the next level.
With the recession in 2008-09 and considering our background (having only technical skills and no financial, marketing and sales skills), we struggled to get any funding. There was one remote chance of funding or a tie-up but unfortunately we blew that up. Also, my partners decided to part ways because of impending personal issues like marriage and finances, and there I was, running SaleRaja alone in Dec 2008. I got together with one more guy in the beginning of 2009, then with another girl for sales for 3-4 months, at the same time myself managing my day job at Jivox and coding for SaleRaja in the mornings and evenings.
It was around September 2009 that I was alone again (it didn’t work out as expected with the other two). I was still working day in and day out, doing coding as well as sales calls, but it was beginning to take its strain on me. I was no longer enjoying what I was doing, was getting tired and fatigued easily, and my energy levels started to dip for the first time in many years. The 16 hour work days which used to pass like a breeze started to seem like a self-imposed torture. This continued from September to December 2009. It was during these last few months of 2009 that I started to ponder on questions like –
- Is this really what I want to be doing?
- Why am I not enjoying this work now if I used to love it so much earlier?
- Where am I headed if I continue this way?
- Is there any other view or picture which I am missing here?
I had jumped into SaleRaja at the age of 23. I also had blind faith in the idea that doing business is not possible after marriage, so this was THE time for me. And I had so much faith in mine and my friend’s abilities that failure never looked an option. I think I got so caught up in these predetermined notions that I tried harder, harder and harder but was unwilling to see the big picture, the picture that there might be something missing from our skill sets, the picture that business can even happen later on in life too, and that these last 2.5 years have taught me a lot even if they have not been as expected.
So what I learned from this experience is that sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day existence that we seldom take time to step back from our daily activities to reflect and observe our life as a whole. It is like we are so much busy in reaching the destination that we don’t even have time to stop for fuel. When we are stressed by situations, we start taking our decisions also in that emotional state. It’s strange how one bad incident can take us off track and get us going in the opposite direction instead. Only if we remember to look things in perspective of our whole life.
Taking time to stop every once in a while and gather our senses is also very important. We have to be calm and make sure we don’t panic. No matter how busy we get, we should always keep some time (a few hours or a whole day) to sit quietly and introspect that we are going in the right direction or not. It will allow us to focus on what we already have rather than what we don’t. Then we can go about calmly making new plans and vision for the future. In this quiet time we can ponder on long term questions like –
- What all resources do I have now, and what all do I need?
- What have been the past successes and failures, and lessons from them?
- What skills, qualities, talents I need and how can I get them?
- How can I more effectively use what I have right now to get the best results?
Gaining perspective also allows us to be patient and conserve our energies for future riches rather than wasting it on frustrations. It can also prevent us from making a big and costly mistake. Many times we just have to wait before the tide turns in our favor and we can start running again. Sometimes, perspective also makes us aware that we are not going in the right direction, and we might need to take a step or two back before starting again. Like in my case, I realized I didn’t have the resources and skills to pursue SaleRaja. Also, my egoistic view that business can’t happen later in life was getting in the way of making better decisions. It was then I decided to step back and take a break from entrepreneurship, work on to plugging my skill gaps, and then get back to entrepreneurship later on. It was a tough decision back then considering the work I had put on SaleRaja for the last 2.5 years, but necessary, as Steve Jobs remarked in his famous commencement speech, “It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”
I am glad I took this time to introspect, and today, 20 months after that decision, I can say I am on the right track, plugging my gaps and will soon be ready to jump into the entrepreneur world once again.