What comes to your mind when you hear “Business Power Coach”? I bet, your mind instantly sketches a picture of serious looking man with a stern face and intriguing eyes, who, more often than not, would discuss about the ever boring subjects like finances and business strategies in equally boring tone. But when you meet Sareta Chauhan, all your beliefs about a business coach gets blown to smithereens. She talks to you in the most soothing tone and tries to fathom your ideas about business in such a subtle manner that you feel as if you are talking to an old friend. During this informal looking chat, she will present to you a whole new perspective of your business which is enough to make you walk on the path of success.
She is a Business Coach with a difference, with values and principles that she doesn’t compromise to get profits, she is more of humane, a quality that is not easily seen in businesses and she tries to pass this value to her trainees too.
Meet Sareta Chauhan, the Business Power Coach who is also the Co-Founder Director of Redefine Skills and Learning Pvt Ltd and the Founder Director of EVOKE Inspiring Lives. She had begun her career as Faculty for Economic Environment at Amity International Business School and then worked at responsible positions in such renowned organizations as CII, FICCI, SREI Infrastructure Finance, NIESBUD, Kovida -the skill training and entrepreneurship development division of NYCS, and Indian Chambers of Knowledge Enabled Services (ICKES) before founding her two companies, Redefine Skills and EVOKE. Let’s listen to the inspiring story of this Business Woman who now creates Business persons in her avatar as Business Power Coach.
Q. Please tell something about your childhood.
Ans. As a child, I was very quiet, and used to stay in my own world. I did not have many friends as I was very selective in making friends and also because I was in a joint family with more than a dozen cousins. My father had been an Army Officer and thus I have grown up with lots of discipline. Sleeping, waking up, playing, studies, all had fixed time and we had to maintain that strictly without any excuses. Despite all the discipline, my father was very loving and caring. I have learnt a lot from him, one of which is giving back to people. He used to say that even animals can live for themselves, it’s only human beings who can do something for others. So, it is my core value that I grew up with. As an Army officer, he was all for his country, and I picked my patriotism from him. ‘My India’ was and is always there at the top of whatever I do.
I lost my 18 years old elder sister when I was only 9 years old. It came as a jolt to my family. But this also made me strong, maturated and resilient of the losses. I became fearless as I had seen the ultimate loss of life, the death of someone so close. I also got the lesson that you should value life. As long as you are alive, you can build anything. You never know what will happen tomorrow so why not live today?
Q. Were you a good or an average student and what did you study?
Ans. Although I wanted to study science in school but the thought of dissecting a living being, a frog or insect, prevented me from opting for science. So, I studied Commerce with Maths. I was not brilliant , never among toppers. I was average in studies but was good in co-curricular activities like debate, drama, and dance. I was always appreciated by teachers for my qualities other than academics such as sincerity and discipline. I liked learning new things.
Then I studied business economics in Delhi University. There also, I wanted to study human psychology as I wanted to do counselling and help people who had lost dear ones in life. I could identify with such kids who just don’t understand what had happened in life when they lose a family member at such a tender age. But back then, psychology was not a popular subject and my father was totally against this because there is a myth in our society that psychologists who counsel people become psychologically disturbed themselves. It is something interesting that there was a deal between me and my father who said, If I cleared the competitive exam for business economics honours, I would study it but in case I am not able to clear it, he would not object to my studying psychology. There were about a lakh of students appearing for this exam. I tried my best to fail and did my worst in the exam but it was as if the universe wanted me to study business economics, I stood 27th where only 30 students were meant to be selected for the course. I was totally shattered but for me promise had to be honoured. So, I studied business economics. Then I did Masters in Business Economics from Guru Nanak Dev University; Apeejay Institute of Management was doing this course. However the psychology bug did never leave me, so I did Certification course in Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People from University of Edinburgh. I work on mindset also apart from tools and strategies for business that satisfied my urge.
Q. Did you always want to work and make a career of your own?
Ans. I always wanted to work and that too for NGOs. While doing graduation too, I was working part time in NGO as event coordinator as and research coordinator. While doing masters, I did not get much time so I used to give tuition to students in my neighbourhood. My parents did not know about my part time jobs in NGO or tuition. When my father came to know, he was not that happy, he asked me, “is it about money?” I said, “No, it is about earning my own money.” It was important for me to understand how one makes money and also to earn my own money. I never liked asking for money from my parents though they never denied giving money to us siblings. After masters, since I was 21 years old, I had been working full time.
Q. When you wanted to work for NGO, how is it that you became an entrepreneur, a Business Coach?
Ans. During my masters, I did all my projects for stock market but I always wanted to work for NGOs. I did not even try for campus placements as I did not want to work for MNCs. I was so obsessed with my love for India that I only wanted to work for Indian organizations. Once it happened that one of my teachers, Prof S.C.Gupta, a renowned author of many books on organization behaviour, asked me, what I wanted to do and I said, I wanted to work in an NGO. He then told me that I should become a teacher as I had this capability of creating good people. I somehow got touched with his words. I told my father that I wanted to teach students of MBA. He was happy too. I started my career with Amity International School where I was a Research associate and also taught Economic Environment to MBA students. While teaching there, I realized most of the students there did not come to gain knowledge or skills but to have good placements and even to kill time. It was disheartening for me. Also, the working conditions there and some of the ways to get business were against my principles. It might be that the organization was growing at that time or whatever be the reasons for this, I did not like the work environment and within 8 months, I left that job.
I then worked in CII, FICCI, and SREI Infrastructure Finance. For 9 years, I worked in all Indian organizations and no MNCs (laughter). I got lot of exposure too. During this time, I also realized where do Indian companies suffer. I think, work culture, job profile, timeline, etc. are really important for job satisfaction. Indian companies are really insensitive to these facts. They don’t consider whether their employees are really satisfied or are happy doing what they are doing. When a company starts seeing people as resource and humans and not just workers then only such work satisfaction can come and then the potential of all the employees can be realized to the maximum. From among all the companies I had worked for, SREI is the one company that I really appreciate for having sensitivity towards their employees.
Q. In your life, at any point, did you feel like not doing a job or staying back at home?
Ans. No, I never wanted to just stay back at home but yes, I had to compromise a lot with my work profile. When I got married, within a year, my daughter was born. With this, came a lot of responsibilities at home front too; 8 to 8 job, family, child- there was a lot to do. I enjoy working but at that time, I used to think, “Am I becoming a machine?” My health also started deteriorating. Then I took a call and that’s when I started looking for options where I could learn more and also have more time for myself and my family. I applied to a National institution, a government organization, NIESBUD, working for MSME and entrepreneurship across India. Fortunately I was quite qualified and they were looking for someone to handle their International projects. So, I joined there though after compromising on my salary etc.
Q. So, that’s how you started training entrepreneurs?
Ans. NIESBUD gave me a platform to use my potential fully, they allowed me to take initiatives apart from my set jobs. So, I started a Start-up cell there. I felt, as a National Institute, NIESBUD should not only impart training but also provide ‘Next-to-Training’ by giving them a platform to interact with investors, mentors, and consultants. So, I also started giving consultancy to people who were up for start-ups, MSMEs who wanted to scale up. It worked really well. For next three years, I did a lot of work and also got recognized for this. Then came a time when I started feeling that I had given all that I could give to NEISBUD and now I should start something of my own. So, I started my own companies. Before that, I also worked as a partner entrepreneur with some of my friends but that somehow did not work. It’s difficult to purely chase your own vision and mission when you have partners with you.
Q. What companies did you create?
Ans. Initially, along with two partners, I launched ‘Redefine Skills and Learning Pvt. Ltd.’ in the year 2015-16. It is into corporate training, entrepreneurship training for schools and colleges and the like.
I had been training and consulting people for entrepreneurship for more than 7 years previous to this so I also launched myself as a Business Coach. I am a Business Power Coach now.
My other company ‘Evoke Inspiring Lives’ is a social enterprise through which I help girls and women in urban slums to earn their own bread and butter. It basically imparts entrepreneurship skills to these women but in form of a collaborative model.
Q. You are doing so many things at the same time. What is that which you like the most?
Ans. From among all the three things that I am doing now, what I am most passionate about is coaching people. I am a full time business coach. The other two companies, Redefine Skills and Evoke are on auto-pilot mode. I feel satisfied in being Entrepreneur and Business Power Coach.
Q. Whom do you provide coaching as a Business Power Coach?
Ans. I provide coaching to companies and individuals who want to scale up business.
Q. Why do you think, business coaching is essential for entrepreneurs, especially the first timers?
Ans. As a business coach what I discovered was that people run businesses without any direction. They want to maximize their profits but they lack the basic knowledge about how to start a business, how to make strategy, plans and other basic things for successful business operations. What clarity do you have in each cycle or each step of your business is very important and that’s what I help people with. What are the marketing modules, how to do market research, how to become a market leader, how to create such powerful vision and mission that you always go ahead in your business, that’s what I coach people for. I help people develop that clarity which helps them go ahead in their business without any fear of failure.
Q. What is the USP of your model of business coaching?
Ans. As a start-up, even I faced a lot of challenges despite the fact that I started my company with a lot of zeal and a strong foundation of knowledge regarding every aspect of entrepreneurship. There was a time when I was totally clueless about what went wrong. At that point I started interacting with various entrepreneurs, especially the very successful ones who almost started with nothing. Then I realized what was going wrong with my own business. So, during next few months, I developed a system which is foolproof. I applied that to my own business and started seeing the results very soon. We touched the break-even early and got into a profit mode in our business. I got confident about this model and that’s when I started giving coaching to people who want to learn it. I share the same business model with my clients on which I run my own business.
Q. What types of coaching programmes are available with you as a Business Power Coach?
Ans. I do one year program programme which is a group coaching programme. The participants get training on regular intervals, have interactions with me on fixed days every month, they get assignments and follow up call from me. It is the system that I developed for my own business and I train them how things work in favour of their business.
Second is personal coaching, it is one-to-one coaching for people who want full time concentration. I sit with the trainee and we both work out the things.
Apart from this I have specific short term solutions based programs.
Q. How can people contact you if they want to enrol for any of your coaching programmes?
Ans. My website is www.saretachauhan.com and my mail ID is firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also call up at the phone number +91 7289097614.
Q. Can you please tell about Evoke Inspiring Lives, your social enterprise and what all it does?
Ans. It was always at the back of my mind that one day, I will have an NGO. While I worked for Redefine Skills, I came across many people who were not that privileged. Sometimes, I hired some of these people in my team as well as for my events. I realized, these girls were very sharp but lacked the right kind of support, financial as well as family support. But once you start doing something on your own, you develop confidence. The moment you earn money, no one can stop you then. In slums, I found these girls who were not very good in skills but were keen to do something. So, I thought of empowering them and that’s how, Evoke was born. I started with a small group of girls who did events like birthday parties at home and at very economical rates. They do everything from decoration, cooking, serving to cleaning. They also help in seminars etc. They call themselves, ‘Divas’. Then there is another group of girls, “Designer Divas” and they make customized dresses. They follow the latest fashion trends and make clothing as per your requirements. People give them their own designs or tell them what kind of dress they want. These girls go to their place and take measurements and other specifications, do the stuff and then deliver at home. Anyone wanting to avail their services can contact at my e-mail ID, email@example.com. Please mention EVOKE in the subject line. Initially, I funded all their business requirements but now they are self sustained. I am even thinking of collaborating with some outreach partners and do the same model in other slums.
Q. What advice would you give to women who want to do something in life, business, job or anything else?
A. One thing I want to tell to women is that many times in life you feel that there is nothing beyond this, you feel you need to compromise. In such times, hold on to your own courage, your own self and have that confidence that ‘you can do’. If you have this confidence, no one can come and tell you that you can’t do it. Stand tall, put your foot down and say, ‘Yes, I can do it, I will do it’.
People will, sooner or later, agree. Although, for a woman, it is never simple but when you work, you give value to yourself. It may not be a big corporate job or a big business, even doing something small is sufficient. Write a blog, do cooking and supply Tiffin, do whatever you can. See what is feasible in your environment and do that.
Q. How can women manage so many roles that they have to play at home and while working?
Ans. Talking about myself, I started a system in my family where from cooking to any other work has been delegated and I am not required to do all the things. So, you have to develop a system, you have to stand your ground, you have to say, you can manage it. Usually, women give up because somewhere they feel they can’t. And then there are pressures. So, they make you feel you can’t. Just say, ‘I can’. If nothing but only if you can tell yourself everyday that ‘I can’, it’s a very powerful thing. It matters how do you speak to yourself, it’s not at all important what world says to you but what you say to yourself. If needed, hire people for household work but do what you like to do. If you don’t delegate your work, you can never grow. This is one of the key mantras of growth. This is also one of the reasons why small businesses do not grow because they become person specific. You have to create a trustworthy system where you can be assured that there is someone else who can take care of such and such work and then you can focus on your prime work. That clarity is very much required in personal life as well. It should never be dependent on you.
Q. There are many women who are not lucky enough to get support from family members. What suggestions do you give to such women?
Ans. I won’t say that I got this support from day one. There were apprehensions and especially when a child is small and domestic help leaves any day, the elderly family members get worried about the situation. Again it has to do with you saying that, “I will do it”. Sooner or later, when they see things going well, they agree. Managing your time well and developing a strong support system can take you anywhere you want to go. It’s about doing something and showing results, people will then agree with whatever you create. It never comes from day one.
Also, taking ownership helps. Most of the time, we feel, we are dependant. Take ownership as mother, as a woman, as someone who has value. It’s about self worth. I take ownership, so when I feel my child is not taken care of well, I don’t complain, I find out solutions. Once you start finding solutions, you get solutions. It is unfortunate that most of the times, women are made to feel low about their lives. You don’t have to take this. Don’t listen to any one who says, don’t do this or you can’t do this. Do what you feel you should do. Eventually, if your intentions and feelings are right, people will love you for whatever you create. If you live in a victim mode, your child will also develop this tendency, especially if it is a daughter.
Know that you can be ambitious woman and an ambitious mother as well. Mother’s individuality and self respect is very important to bring positive change in kids. I have promised myself that I am going to raise an extraordinary daughter and if that’s what I want, I myself have to be extraordinary. And it’s very simple, it’s about what you talk to yourself. Never give up and try your best until you get the result you want
Q. Did you feel any particular challenge due to being a woman yourself?
Ans. Initially I felt women were not taken as someone who can contribute something worthy, especially when it comes to finance and money, despite the fact that they mange home finance so well without any formal training or education. But things are changing for good. I won’t say I have faced a lot of issues due to being a woman but being a business person, I had to face quite many challenges, especially due to the system that we work in. You are supposed to compromise a lot on your values. At a very young age, I have seen the dark side of Indian bureaucracy and corporates and it’s very painful. But as I am, I change my model of working but never give up on my values. I never ever thought of earning more money or getting projects by compromising on my values. Nothing can deter you from your values if you are firm and determined.
Q. When have you been most satisfied in your life?
Ans. Lot of clients whom I provide coaching, when they come to me and tell their success stories, in those moments I feel very satisfied. I also feel satisfied when I see my daughter of 6 years independent and happy.
Q. As a Business Power Coach, what do you suggest for women who want to do it big by staying at home?
Ans. There are lot of opportunities, in fact, if not now, when? It is just the right time. There are businesses like cooking and supplying Tiffin, making baked foods, even having pre-schools, opening a tuition franchisee. There are various small things that can be manufactured at home. Big businesses and even smaller ones need many small parts, make them. Create arts and crafts. There are services like social media, marketing, market research that you can do from a laptop at home. I even guide such women who do not want to go much out of home and do businesses from right where they are.
Q. What is the next thing you are excited about?
Ans. I am currently writing a book on business, “Kickstart your Success Story” which is about to publish.
Q. What is that one habit of yours that has helped you become such a successful woman?
Ans. Never giving up on your values, in situations or with people.
Q. What’s that one sentence/ quote that describes you the best?
Ans. If you want more, do more.
Q. Anything specific that you want readers to know that I haven’t asked you?
Ans. One thing I want to share is when you work, sometimes you start compromising on relationships. Loving people and loving yourself too is very important in life. It is always easy to go alone and do things but for me it is more important to take people with me. If I get successful today, alone, there’s no one to cherish my success. But if I have people in my life, they will also cherish my success. So, maintain your individuality, love people and love yourself too. That’s love in totality. If you love yourself, you’ll love people too. Most of the women do not love themselves because they see themselves in the light of what people say about them. Something inside in you is more important than anything else. Love yourself, eat well, exercise, give yourself importance then only people will give importance to you. When you give worth to yourself, your kids will also grow up with a strong image of themselves. They don’t learn what you teach them, they learn by seeing you. Being happy is very important. You are happy when you are ‘yourself’.
Sareta says, if all women in India start working, the Indian economy will go through roof. A lot of economic empowerment is lying dormant. If India can utilize this workforce, we can do wonders. And to women, she says, it is not always about money, it is more about having the clarity in which direction you want to go. Money comes later, your own determination that you want to grow comes first. If you feel you can’t grow, you have to first question yourself, why I don’t want to grow? Growth is the natural extension. If you are not growing, in a way, you are dying. So happens in business, whatever doesn’t grow, eventually dies. So, live your life, grow and leave something behind that will make people remember you.