CA Hetal Thakkar Quits Her Awesome Job and Dived into the Pool of Uncertainty of ‘Startups’
When I started my CA journey…I knew nothing of what I wanted to do ‘after’ becoming a Chartered
However, by the end of
my articles, I knew what all I did not want to do…and that was working as a
regular Chartered Accountant!
I clearly remember in
2014-15 (last year of my CA articles), the word “startup” was in
I would read about various
startups – their success and collapse stories and found it so exciting.
And it goes without guessing…I
was fascinated by startups and entrepreneurship!
In 2015, I finally succeed as
a Chartered Accountant and was ready to start my career in a ‘Startup’.
My plan was to surrender my CA identity (which is not easy) and join a startup.
I was ready to take the designation of an intern, work on a stipend and do business development anything.
However, my overqualification and lack of marketing/ operations knowledge always acted as barriers.
Every startup I addressed declined my application.
So what next? After searching for possibilities in various startups for almost 5 months…I finally decided to join a large corporate.
I was selected and proposed a package of 7 lacs per annum at a leading company. And as fortune would have it, just a day after accepting the offer, I heard of an opportunity in Baker Tilly DHC, one of the Biggest 10 CA Firms…in the financial due diligence the department which was a fairly fresh staff.
If not a ‘proper startup’ but at least working in a newly set up department would give me more knowledge. Also, in this role, I would be informed directly to the Partner…exactly what I wanted. I was offered a 5.5 lacs package (a pay cut) …without an idea, it was a yes for me. Quitting my job to starting my own business…finally! I was enjoying my time at Baker Tilly DHC, and had above-average jumps year on year and was doing well…however, after almost 2.5 years of working here, I had become very comfortable and very much in my comfort zone.
“I should work someplace else for some more time before finally jumping on to Entrepreneurship’’.
So, I quit Baker Tilly DHC to join a Big Four Firm. As luck would have it, my initial assignment was an Indian based unicorn. And I couldn’t be luckier to be a part of a full-day meeting in the existence of the founder and the entire top management of this billion-dollar value startup.
On that very same day, something in my gut told me to act on my ideas (I would also note down all my business ideas and brainstorm!) With that very instinct, I called up my elder brother in Canada immediately and said… ‘remember I had told you about the *latest* (I had evaluated many) ideas of a startup that I had, I want to take it up all day.’ He heard me patiently and said go for it. What Next? The toughest part – I had to tell my parents and trust me I was very scared. I was scared not fearing that they would say no…. but I felt I was taking away everything from them. I was going to start a business ‘not allied with Chartered Accountancy’, which for them was one of the biggest pride. Also, at the age when most Indian parents start the marriage talks, I was asking for more time. But to my shock and surprise, without even understanding my business idea much, in a blink of an eye, they said, ‘Do what you feel right, you have our full support’. And that was it. After advising a couple of mentors and friends, I gave my resignation and embarked on my entrepreneurial journey. Dived into the pool of uncertainty of ‘Startups’ Having seen tough days during childhood, savings was an inherent quality. And since my family was not financially reliant on me, I was fully prepared to bootstrap my startup FlexiLife.
I started my journey all alone, I had no mentor who could guide me for the steps …luckily the CA examinations had taught me the biggest quality an entrepreneur must have which is ‘Patience’.
It took me some time to understand the entire process –
From conceptualizing the idea in my head to penning it down on paper and designing it as a proper product, to building processes for operations to understanding how sales and marketing are both different.
From designing a leaflet to making a pitch deck, from creating written content to making animated videos, from social media marketing to on-field sales, I learned it all. I can speak if not many technical coding terms as well.
Frustrating moments in my entrepreneurial journey?
I was used to talking to the CEOs and the CFO’s of companies in my previous job
I was making random sales calls, It was difficult but a humbling experience. The thing that helped me the most were my network of people from different walks of life. I spoke to as many people as possible to have a wider view of the problem that I was solving and not take decisions merely based on personal bias. Should you quit your job and start on your own? Considering my confidence personality, I always thought I’d do it…but I realized it only now how much I had ‘undervalued’ the term, “Entrepreneurship”.
Just being emotional about your idea and taking risks is NOT the way to go about it.
One must evaluate the viability of an idea with clear penned down answers to the relevant question about the product, market, and industry. For people who want to commence something, give equal importance to reading failure stories as much as success stories. During your journey, you’ll encounter highs and lows, feel the emotions of both but don’t let either of the emotion get you carried away to the extremes.
Some of my learnings:
- Entrepreneurship is a long journey, take one day at a time.
- Consistent evaluation and acting on the same.
- Numbers are your best friends as they don’t lie.
Molding yourself into an entrepreneur is a very enduring and transformative journey. And in my opinion, anyone who is passionate about it should take a shot at it. Obey your heart but also prepare to win, Have Patience.