Rise of the New Age Women Entrepreneur: KAVITA SUGANDH
Tell us about your journey from a small time job to that entrepreneurship
I was born in Raipur, Chattisgarh, studied from Nagpur and hail from an average middle class family. My father encouraged me to start earning from a very early age. Hence, I have been working since the age of 14. I started by setting up a plant nursery while I was still studying in school.
After my graduation, I joined Hutchison Max (Now Vodafone), then I joined Aditya Birla Insurance and finally Kotak Mahindra Bank. Since I come from a traditional business family I was never comfortable with working for someone else and always knew I wanted to do something on my own. However, I never had enough capital to get started.
Around 2006, I decided to quit my job and started an HR consultancy business, which was my first major stint at entrepreneurship. I was the CEO, administrator, the clerk and the only employee, since I couldn’t afford to hire people. With hard work and determination, eventually I was able to grow this business and establish multiple offices. This experience also taught me that running a business is not easy. I was very hands-on and my company was centred around me and that meant I could not afford to fall sick or go on vacation since a lot of money was at stake. Also, all the profits seemed to only appear on paper and never in the bank!
Two years later, I discovered direct selling through QNet and since then my journey as an entreprenuer has completely transformed.
So how did you come across Direct Selling and why were you attracted to it?
By the year 2008 I had already been working with some of the top brand names in India for 8 years. Then one day, QNet came into our lives through a family friend. My husband Sachin Gupta was the first one to realise the potential of the direct selling business and immediately took it up. I was initially reluctant since I was still focussing on making a success of my HR consultancy business, but decided to give it a shot, though not wholeheartedly.
It took me about a year before I realised the power of the direct selling business to impact sustainable change. I had gone for one of QNet’s international conventions where I had the opportunity to attend their training programs, interact with other distributors from around the world, and explore the various products. I came back home from the convention and closed down my HR business. From that day on, I decided to give QNet my 100 per cent.
I had to work very hard for four long years before experiencing any form of success with QNet. By 2012, my husband and I decided to move to Dubai to expand our business internationally. For the next one year I was constantly traveling between India and Dubai. By 2014 the team in India was becoming self-reliant and I didn’t have to oversee things regularly and was able to properly shift to Dubai and focus on the international business.
How many years did it take before you felt you were achieving some level of success in your QNet business?
I still don’t consider myself successful. There is so much more to achieve! For me, this is a never-ending journey. A journey that I wish would never end, because I am enjoying every minute of the ride.
I have never shied away from hard work, but as an entreprenuer with QNet I have learnt about hard work at a whole new level. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but a get-rich-sure business, provided you are putting our heart and soul into it. For the first 18 months, I did not make any money. I faced a lot of setbacks and rejections. That made me angry but it also fuelled my hunger to do better. When I earned my first commission cheque after 18 months of hard work and effort, the wait was totally worth it!
One of the challenges many of the women in this business face is lack of family support or pressures of family commitments that prevent them from focusing properly on networking. What is your advice for them?
I think families will keep opposing anything that they are not comfortable with simply because they don’t understand it. They need to see your determination and craze and passion to achieve something. They need to test your seriousness about your goals.
In the natural order of things, the world will try to shake anything that can be shaken. But once they know that that any amount of shaking will not uproot you, they stop trying.
Communication with the family is very important. Making them a part of your dreams helps in a big way. Most of the time, the challenge lies in the lack of communication. We talk about our dreams with the whole world, but forget to do so with our own families!
If you are determined and your family member — be it spouse or parents or in-laws– are able to see that determination, they will support you. In many cases I find that lack of family support is simply an excuse for many people and is never the actual reason for them not trying.
What kept you motivated and driven to stay on the path?
MONEY and SUCCESS. I like to have a lot of both! J
I don’t think I need any sort of external motivation to stay on the path. Every time I received a rejection, I was motivated to try again. Every time I was faced with a challenge, I found myself working with double the energy to overcome it. This journey would be very boring without challenges. I love this game, it always keeps me on my toes for victory!
Your husband and you are a team. How much of your success do you attribute to him?
I owe all my success to him. He is the one and only reason for it. He brought me into this business and has been with me through the thick and thin and the ups and downs. In this business, he is my upline and not my husband. In the last 4 years, we have been less of a couple and more of upline and downline. One mistake I see many couples make in this business is confuse this relationship and that’s what prevents them from making it big.
I was willing to keep my ego aside and follow my upline 200 per cent and he has been the best upline ever.
How big is your team now?
The team under me that’s actively involved in the direct selling business is now close to 25,000 distributors. We also have 1.75 lakh customers who regularly purchase products of QNet.
How was your life when you were working a regular job, and how does it compare to now?
I used to earn modest monthly salary in Kotak Mahindra Bank – my last job. I could barely cover my monthly expenses and I couldn’t even think about saving for the future. Now, QNet’s direct selling business has shown us the power of entrepreneurship and the potential to grow a successful business through hard work and dedication. Now, I can live the life of my dreams. I can provide the best that life could offer to my loved ones, and beyond that, I can help others to create better lives too. I can tell you that there is no greater privilege than that.
What is the secret to succeeding as an entrepreneur?
There is no substitute to hard work. My husband and I used to work 18-20 hours a day, all 7 days a week when we started out. In the last 3-4 years, I have been unwell only once and I was in the hospital for a week. Even then, I used to work from the hospital helping and guiding my team members remotely.
Has it been difficult being a woman in this business?
I think men find it far more difficult. Women usually have all the traits needed to be successful in direct selling. In my opinion, us women are the only reason for our own failures. If we want to be successful and walk hand in hand in men, then why do we need a man to make us realise our own potential? We don’t need a special women’s day to talk about everything that’s good about being a woman. Success doesn’t see gender. It comes to those who put their blood and sweat into and are deserving of it.
What were the challenges that you faced as part of your entreprenurial journey? Did you ever want to give up when times were hard?
I believe that when you go all out to achieve your dreams, you will be faced with challenges. You cannot achieve success without failure. I am glad that I faced so many challenges and experienced failures, because that’s what helped me grow as a person.
My biggest challenge was coming out of my shell. I am inherently shy and a loner by nature. This has often been perceived as arrogance. I had to make the effort to change this and take initiative to approach people and talk to them. For this, I will always be grateful to my husband and my mentors because they helped and guided me to becoming who I am today.
I have never thought of quitting or giving up. I AM NOT A QUITTER. I never was. In fact, each challenge has only made me stronger. I think people who quit either have other choices or they are simply ok with not succeeding. I have been clear with myself that success is my only choice.
Your advice to the young generation of women who aspire to be entrepreneurs.
In India, even today in many places young women or girl children are dissuaded from taking up a career or being ambitious. In my opinion we celebrate Woman’s Day because we don’t consider women as equal to men. I tell the women in my team that their success is entirely up to them. They need to believe they can be successful and be willing to put in the work needed for it.
As a society we should never let a women feel that she is not capable or not suitable to do something. We need to create an environment where women should be encouraged to follow their dreams, and make their own choices.
Question: What about settling down and planning a family.
Everyone has to make a choice and I made mine. I have a family of nearly two lakh people consisting of my QNet team members. We are like a family and I take care of my team, train them, and take pride in their success.
What is the one important thing that you have discovered about yourself in all these years with QNET?
I am very, very competitive. I hate being left behind. I keep pushing myself harder every single day to achieve my goals. I am super aggressive when it comes to achieving my targets. I can’t live life without targets. Whether it is a business target or any other target in life. I need to know what I will get when I reach the finish line. QNET has brought out and honed that competitive spirit in me.
What is the one QNET product you cannot live without and why?
Physio Radiance Visage plus all the way! From the day I started using it, I have become a big fan. It makes me glow. I believe it is the most important product for networkers. When you go out and meet people and talk to them about being a part of a million dollar project, u need to look like a million dollars. Every networker must use it and flaunt it.