You Can’t Plan to Be an Entrepreneur - Rohit Jha

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1. Tell us more about your company and your journey.

I had an enriching journey of 11+ years in the corporate world, before starting my own venture. I worked in diverse industries such as financial services, management consulting, etc. across the globe including New York, Hong Kong, etc. I am a Maths (Hons.) graduate from Delhi University (Hansraj College) and hold an MBA degree from Hong Kong.

After coming back to India in 2018, I decided to go on my own and started my career advisory firm (Vikings Career Strategists) at the end of 2018. Our core expertise lies in career guidance & study abroad consulting. We counsel students and professionals through our 4-dimensional online + personalized guidance model, to make the right career choices. 

With our experienced mentors and coaches, we offer guidance on MBA/MIM/MS and Bachelor programs across the world. The process involves an end-to-end execution, right from college selection to final admit.

The entrepreneurship journey has been fulfilling so far as there has been a growth in the business so far and we are expecting the same trend in the future as well.

2. How did you come up with this idea and go about executing it?

I come from a middle-class family, where choosing a career meant either engineering or medicine in the early 2000s. At each step in my life, right from school until a few years back, I felt the need for the right guidance. Your success or failure depends a lot on the direction, apart from the hard work. 

I believe hard work in the right direction will improve your chances of success.
So, with this thought and with my own failures and experiences, I started the business. 

It is important to convert your ideas into a scalable business so that you can reach millions of people. So, with this thought in mind, I have designed the business model including the processes to execute the model successfully. 

Firstly, I designed the services which we can offer and the revenue streams for each service, based on our initial market assessment and research. Secondly, we worked on the marketing plan to reach out to people and simultaneously built our operating model including customer service. 

In the last 2 years, we were in the exploration phase and made several changes at different intervals based on our experience related to the execution.

3. What has been your biggest challenge that you faced and how did you overcome that?

The biggest challenge for us was marketing. Since we are a group of expert professionals, so the quality of our services was always the best and this has been proved in the last 2 years from the feedback that we received. 

So, the challenge is to reach out to people and give them our best offerings. Our sales conversion rate is more than 90%, so marketing is our only challenge.
There are 2 major aspects of marketing – “visibility and value”, so we decided to work on these areas. 

To increase our visibility, we had decided to target several social media platforms according to our services. The next step was to give value to the customers. For that, we have curated quality content for each platform, so that our customers should get the desired value if they connect with us. 

We believe the best marketing strategy is “CARE” and that is what we do. So, whether we convert a customer (in terms of sales) or not, we still aspire to provide them with the right guidance.

4. What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

Apart from perseverance and conviction, the most important quality of a successful entrepreneur is his/her ability to adapt and challenge the status quo. We live in the most disruptive times and if you will not adapt quickly to the changes, then somebody else will replace you.

5. What are some of the most important factors for running a successful business?

The most important factor for me is customer satisfaction. You might think you have an outstanding product or service, but if your customer is not on the same page, then it would be difficult to sustain in the long run. All your business functions are related to customer satisfaction. 

So, that is why our focus is always customer satisfaction and all our business functions such as marketing, operations, etc. work accordingly, to provide the best support. All our team members are aligned with this vision.

6. What are your tips for the first time and aspiring entrepreneurs?

The only tip which I would like to give is “you can’t plan to be an entrepreneur”. There are 100’s of problems in this world, but you need to see where you feel connected, because then only you will give your heart and soul to your idea. After that when you are convinced, then be ready to sacrifice a lot of things depending on the age and stage of your life.

7. How can one overcome a hurdle of lack of funds when starting up?

Every entrepreneur has a different mindset when it comes to funding. There are a lot of start-ups doing well without funding as well. First, you will be sure about your intent and initial plan for a couple of years. 

If you want to scale up fast, then definitely funding would be required. For us, we first want to build a strong brand, and then maybe in the future, we might want to go for funding. So, for start-ups with a lack of funds, hiring is the most important element. 

You need to hire less and work more, but all your team members should be aligned with this vision. Additionally, you can offer them remuneration linked to the company’s performance, so that all of them will be aligned to your vision before coming onboard. 

So, whether you are a founder or co-founder, you must set the example and effectively communicate with the team on a regular basis.

Interview by - Mahi

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