Moving Forward and opening new doors - What motivates women entrepreneurs to stay determined on their path?

Interview with Charushilla Narula, Founder Director & Key Mentor, University Connection.

3 min read

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Fighting stereotypes, pushing boundaries, breaking glass ceilings - whenever we speak of women achievers, it almost always in the context of winning battles, which somewhat makes sense too. For the longest time, women were kept out of the game, as bystanders. It took a great revolution to tell the world that they too can take the bat in their hand, hit a home run, and win at any game they pick.

And while we may have come a long way,  the long nurtured prejudice still manages to creep into conversations pertaining to women, when they take up something  which was traditionally believed to be “men’s job.” And becoming an independent entrepreneur can still invite unsolicited judgment, even today. So how do you keep going when you are always under the constant scrutiny of critics? We decided to find out that from the horse’s mouth - Charushilla Narula - Founder Director & Key Mentor, University Connection.

We had a few questions for her, to which she obliged. Here is the conversation.

How has it been, starting your own venture?

Charushilla: Frankly, most of my family has been supportive, at the same time, there have been detractors. Especially, closer friends and acquaintances who would always mention the difference between working in a 9-5 job vs doing your own thing, then becoming responsible for creating something larger.

And once the scale became bigger, they became more of a detractor. Perhaps some people can’t digest the fact that something that started as a living room venture, by a woman with no business background, can grow into a 2000sqft office in the heart of South Delhi, expanding to Gurgaon and Faridabad. As a woman, although I don’t mean to be biased, I did see some raised eyebrows. And I think somewhere that became a catalyst for me.

According to you, what challenges are unique to women entrepreneurs?

Charushilla: When you are building your own little venture, and are trying to create something that you can monetize, you don’t look at the hours and work crazy shifts for your own self. And often around with family, they often fail to see your vision. So if it’s a Sunday, “it’s supposed to be a holiday.” But we all know entrepreneurs are never on holiday. Your mind is always preoccupied with your work, whether you are on a vacation, or in a mall. And this became a problem for a few people around me. I would often hear things like “today is a holiday,” “just chill, forget about it for one day,” “don’t open your laptop.” Whereas it would not happen so much in the case of fathers and husbands. They are not often told to not to check their emails or messages. But here it did become a concern.

But I took this as an opportunity to sit my family down to tell them my vision and that I will also need their understanding and support, and they did come around.

I do feel bad for a number of women who don’t get this kind of support. My only message to them is that try to find a balance, find someone who will back you up, and don’t let guilt stop you from attaining your worth.

Thankfully, though, India is changing and today people are coming out in support of women entrepreneurs. And as women too, we need to have each others’ backs.

Your message to other/ aspiring women entrepreneurs.

Charushilla: Passion and love is often the one big thing that’s always associated with what you do and how you do it. And more so when it comes to women. But I want to tell women entrepreneurs that beyond love and passion is accountability, scalability, an addressable audience, money is to be generated. Don’t shy away from talking about money. Talk about Return on Investment. Talk about how it is going to generate and become a scalable venture for you. Very often than not, we just start off something; sometimes we are lucky with it. But you need to start talking numbers if you wish to succeed.

About University Connection

University Connection, an unbiased career consultancy, believes that career decisions are life decisions and the dilemma that a student or young professional goes through can be mind-boggling. Whether it is about selecting the right undergrad degree or master’s program or making an evaluated career move, and guides parents and students at every step, providing them the right information.

Himanshu Bhalla