Sustainability leads to success in the entrepreneurial journey!

Zelam Chaubal is an Executive Director of Kesari Tours & Travels. As a business owner, she is known for expansion of her family business, job creation and supporting young people in their entrepreneurial journey. Zelam Chaubal spoke to Neha Ghatpande, Senior Program Officer at CEED about several challenges one may face in their entrepreneurial journey.

In your experience, what does it take to become an entrepreneur?

Currently, I feel the environment in India is very conducive to entrepreneurship. Young people’s mindset is changing and they are looking to innovate and experiment. I see that the number of centers promoting entrepreneurship in colleges and universities are rising. Yet, at the same time, it is getting saturated. Innovation is necessary and more so, if it solves a particular social problem. In this scenario, it can become a profitable venture. Also, these centers should be able to spread awareness among the young people regarding government grants and affordable loans/seed money to start their businesses. So, I would say the right mindset and approach towards sustainability would help in becoming an entrepreneur. 

Speaking of sustainability, how did you face the challenge of pandemic?

Well, I have learned one thing that success is a continuous process. Yesterday’s success doesn’t guarantee success in the future. Every business owner at any juncture of his professional journey has to live and practice words like sustainability, innovation, rebranding and recreating. So, I understood that what we were left with was some really good people and a brand name. We decided to work with that after the pandemic was over. Also, we can forget the fact that several other home based businesses or pharma businesses got amazing opportunities during the pandemic. So,failure is part of the journey and rising up again is also every entrepreneur’s story.  

What according to you is an ideal way to start a business? Is it to seek a loan or depend on your own money?

It may be an ideal situation to start a business with your own money. But there is a risk of evaporating the capital money and not reaching anywhere. More focus should be on the nature of business. In the travel business, we may not need huge loans because it’s a service based work and I get payments in advance for bookings but for those manufacturing a product, it would be different. It is important to be realistic with your product, its customer base and the possibilities that it offers. 

What do you think about job creation? How do you approach that challenge?

Yes, job creation is a challenge. I believe that a lot of effort must be put into creating businesses in order to create more jobs. In the pre-pandemic situation, we were able to employ 1000 people but there was a setback with the pandemic. Another issue is that the pay scale the travel or similar industries offer are relatively lower than other industries. While training young people, especially in the travel industry,I have realized that  it is important for them to find their niche and create self employment/business out of it. Traditional approach is hard to sustain as most of the older and bigger travel companies like us still work traditionally.  

What do you think is your growth story? And what are the challenges that you face today?

One of the major challenges is to scale up. As a company we have reached a certain level but if I want to expand and scale up then I have to radically change my mindset. Also, I think owning a family business poses different challenges. Have to consider a lot of factors related to the family while running the business. Also, in any successful family business, you would see a solid foundation laid by the earlier generation. In our case, it was our father, who did that for us and all we had to do was to take it forward.

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