Decision Maker: Give us a bit of background about yourself and your company.
Sonal: I am an Indian businesswoman and a proud mother of two children, who bring me joy and peace. I run an event management company, MEDUSA, through which I have successfully organized more than 20 B2C lifestyle exhibitions, and a global trade venture, MEDUSA EXIM, which aims to bridge the gap between local sellers and international buyers. I am a strong proponent of equal opportunities for women in the business sector. Therefore, I am proud of the fact that I have been able to provide a sales platform as well as economic surety to more than 2000 women-owned SMEs. With MEDUSA EXIM, I have chosen to venture into international space. Since its inception, MEDUSA EXIM has helped 1000+ Indian vendors connect with prominent buyers of more than 20 nations in Europe, Asia and America.
Decision Maker: Where does your interest in entrepreneurship come from – how did you start?
Sonal: The main reason why I became my own boss was the immense freedom of operation that your own business provides you with. As entrepreneurs, we are free to move within this space and I also like the satisfaction and flexibility that comes with being your own boss. Before launching my business, however, I researched the market through traditional means, since those were the days prior to Internet or social media. Once I was sure that this is the field I want to be in, I took advise from my family and other business owners, before taking the final plunge.
Decision Maker: Give us insights into the major offerings of the company. And, how does the company support people with its offerings?
Sonal: Whether it is MEDUSA or MEDUSA EXIM, our companies provide a comprehensive service module to the clients, while ensuring that everything is done in the most ethical way possible.
MEDUSA – We offer multiple bespoke services right from the scratch to its clients. We manage project budgets, develop a theme, review exhibits to be displayed, supervise the museum staff, ensure the exhibition publicity, and liaise with artists and collaborators.
MEDUSA EXIM – Again, our portfolio of service is diverse, all-encompassing, and tailor-made for the clients. We source our products from more than 1,000 suppliers across India and the Indian subcontinent. To enhance the modern day supply chain management, the company offers an end to end solution for all kinds of export and import goods in five categories Apparel, handloom, pharmaceutical, agro, mines and Information & Technology.
Decision Maker: What makes your company stand out in the market?
Sonal: Our company, besides being women-driven, is also crafted to provide Indian vendors the path to a better future while sustaining their livelihood through cultural preservation.
Decision Maker: How do women feel in the male-dominated industry?
Sonal: Women feel under pressure, to start with, while working in a male-dominated industry like fashion and apparel. Women face sexual harassment, gender discrimination and bias on a regular basis. This eventually leads to a toxic work environment and it means women are challenged to continue in their careers.
Decision Maker: What do you think is the toughest problem for businesswomen?
Sonal: Women entrepreneurs face a tough time accessing funding, garnering respect from their co-workers, or building a support system around themselves. Moreover, it isn’t easy to seek support from men around you because they look at you through their own prejudices. In order to make life easier for women, other women entrepreneurs should keep an open-door policy for women employees, colleagues, vendors. That would be the only way to make life better for women looking to work in the business world.
Decision Maker: What’s a day in your life like as an entrepreneur?
Sonal: Well, not all days are same but I try to follow a similar routine on most of the working days so that I am able to cover as much as I can because my time isn’t just my time, it is also that of my family, especially my kids. So, a typical work day goes like this –
- Get up at 5 AM and spend time doing yoga, meditation and exercise, alternately.
- Check my emails, review previous day’s tasks, get my to-do list for the day in order.
- By 8 AM, my family is up, so it is breakfast time with them, and some family discussions to get through the day till we meet again later.
- Reach office by 9.30 AM and start my work day. I prefer to take up all the difficult & important decisions of my business within the first two hours of reaching office, so that by evening, when my energy has sapped, I don’t need to do that.
- Between 11 AM & 2PM, it is meetings, meetings, and more meetings!
- Though the lunch time is not fixed as such, but I try to stick to a fixed time as much as I can. But only when work permits!
- Another round of meetings, supervisory actions, and catching up on the day’s to-do list.
- I try to assess the individual projects handed over to my team, at least once a day. It helps me to stay on top of things at work.
- Check my emails, and update my to-do list for the next day.
- I usually reach home by 7 or 7.30 PM, after which my time is dedicated to my family, unless there is an emergency at work. We love to relax and unwind in the company of each other, catching up with what is happening in our individual lives, before calling it a day at around 10 or 10.30 PM.
Decision Maker: How do you achieve a balance between your personal and professional life?
Sonal: It is easy to do so once you realise that you cannot do it all in one go. Some of the pointers I follow in my life –
- Plan ahead
- Work as your brain does. Follow your own rhythm.
- Set deadlines and comply with those.
- Finish work at a certain time of the day.
- Use technology to get work done faster.
- Go out for lunch or dinner with co-workers once a month. Then you won’t need to catch up with them during office hours. Saves a lot of time, trust me!
- Take regular breaks from work, even if it is for a day. Don’t let work interfere in those breaks.
Decision Maker: What have you learned about entrepreneurship in your journey?
Sonal: It has been a great journey so far and I have learned a lot during these years. The foremost thing that I have learned is that it is alright to follow your passion as an entrepreneur. Failure is expected but as they say, falling down is alright, getting up is mandatory! Build a great team because you CANNOT do everything ALONE! Don’t procrastinate, just do it!
Decision Maker: As a source of inspiration for many, what would your advice be for female entrepreneurs, who are planning to enter in the business world?
Sonal: MEDUSA EXIM is a signatory to the Women Empowerment Principles in support of the UN Women and UN Global Impact agencies. Being an expert on international trade, I feel it is my duty to boost the involvement of women in every sector of business that I deal in. Therefore, female entrepreneurship is a topic closer to my heart than anything else. I would tell the upcoming businesswomen to believe in themselves. Never let your or anybody else’s prejudices block your path to success. Prioritize your goals, don’t be afraid to take risks, and reward yourself when you achieve a milestone. Women entrepreneurship is a difficult game but it is highly rewarding, so stay focussed on your end goal, no matter what the world around you says about it.