Successful Entrepreneur

Manju Mastakar Inspiring Story of a Successful Entrepreneur from Rags to Riches!


How did you come to be an successful entrepreneur? 

My journey began back in 2007. I was at designation of Investment Advisor in a Wealth Management firm, and the US Subprime crisis resulted in the slashed indexes globally. It was a tough phase. My company started with retrenchment, and I ended up losing my job. Some clients believed in me, and I started with advisory services. Initially, I began with a few tie-ups through big names who helped me complete the transaction. That’s when my journey of working from home begin with basics like a phone, laptop and Internet connection. 

Please throw some light on your business and its offerings. 

Armstong Capital & Financial Services is an immensely reputed Financial Planning and wealth management entity. We initiate every client’s association with the Financial plan after diving through their requirements, financial commitments, sources and plans for the future. We must help our esteemed clients navigate their finances in the right direction to meet desired goals. We provide them with complete details on their financial positioning and retirement plans in the coming 10 years. 

How challenging is it for a woman to start/ or associate with any company? /Have you faced any unusual situations doing business in India as a female entrepreneur? 

Besides being a woman, my bigger challenge was to start without any cofounder by my side. Most startups include at least 2-3 Cofounders eagerly playing their part in the company operations and management. As I had no one around me with similar interests, taking up this journey alone was quite intimidating. Initially, I was skeptical about the whole thing, but my earlier experience and knowledge of the role helped nurture my brainchild, Armstrong, all alone!

How is Entrepreneurship different from a job? Do you think women in both these areas face similar challenges? 

Well, they are poles apart! I invested time working at a corporate profile before starting my entrepreneurship journey. When you are at your job, your role ends with following instructions, executing them and winding up for a while. But, as a founder, you have to strategize, plan, take responsibility, handle peer pressures, and inspire your team. When you sign up for a ‘Resignation’ letter, you can quit a job. Perhaps, business is a tricky ticket as you have an option but to sustain, fight and emerge back with a better version of yourself. 

How do you achieve work-life balance? 

It is imperative to divide your time and retain an equilibrium at both spots. When you own a venture, you are the boss, and I believe it allows more flexibility in achieving a work-life balance. Though jobs are rigid, there’s no overcommitment, contrary to business, where you can leverage time but have to complete commitments at any cost. My journey as a mother and an entrepreneur began simultaneously, and I completely segregated my home and work hours to ensure that even my toddler got enough time. I remember times when Fund Houses rang up for late evening events that I denied to ensure I did not miss out on feeding my toddler at dinner. With my son growing up, things got back to track, and I was able to better manage both roles eventually. Women must seek help from home maids, daycare or caretakers to ensure their kid’s growth and schedule are not compromised at any cost. 

Did you have a mentor to guide you through your professional journey? 

No, there was no specific mentor to guide me in the journey, but I learned from experiences! There are people I observe, books, YouTube and Audibles to help me with anything I want to learn. I was not privileged with any formal higher education, and a major contributor to my growth and success was my self-learning skills. I am thankful to everyone who ever recommended me or helped me in any way to take a step up in my career. Learning from others and getting motivated by their biographies is a skill. I also refer to people who failed in their careers and try to evaluate what loopholes they left. It helps attain success for the business in tough times. 

How are entrepreneurship and working women important for India? 

India is advancing with more progressive policies for women’s education so that they can take up jobs and prove their capabilities. In the recent scenario, when inflation has peaked, and women in urban areas are taking up charge with equal responsibilities on the financial front, empowerment is important. Women are creating a balance between their careers and taking up household responsibilities equally. Working women of India are opening the mindset of people and inculcating seeds of modern democratic views in the upcoming generation. 

Define a perfect business leader. What are the qualities you think a great leader possesses? 

A good and capable business leader must know the person’s pulse and should be able to assess the outcomes in advance. Such women must be well-versed in potential challenges that they can face in an organization and what are the ways to get a solution to them. The Crux of a good leader is to read people’s minds and evaluate words separately to fetch the gap between what they speak and what they mean. It is the core skill, I believe. 

What advice would you give to other businesswomen who want to thrive in a male-dominated industry?

I highly advise all women to refrain from self-doubt and work to their full potential. When I started my career in stock Markets, women were not a part of the dealing room, but a reputed broking firm counted on me. Then, the ratio was 1:100, which was prevalent when I visited Bangalore for the Mutual Fund Distributor Summit. Gender and age discrimination were big bars, but the fact is skills and excellence do not come from any of these. Let yourself be tagged as bossy, aggressive, and difficult and be known for your work excellence. You can’t be friends with all your colleagues. 

If you had one piece of advice for rising women entrepreneurs just starting, what would it be? 

The most important thing is to tell your family about the importance of your career in life. Apart from the monetary aspect, explain them your dreams, preferences and commitments on a clear node. Keep updating yourself through various mediums and develop skills to become a successful entrepreneur. Hitting the pulse is imperative for business handling. 

How do you help other women climb up the ladder? 

We have a women-driven organization, and I show complete empathy toward working mothers. Many women are inclined towards raising this child, but they also hold high working potential, skills and talent. It is the need of the hour to accommodate their needs and give them the required flexibility in working hours. We believe in empowerment by hiring them! 

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