Life is like a roller coaster ride, it has its ups and downs, but it is your choice to scream or enjoy the ride
I recall the days and years gone past where I fondly remember all the good things, my achievements and sadly my failures. I enjoyed the schooling & college years (at Narsee Monjee) post graduation with specializations in finance and Insurance, memorable holidays with my family, friends getting married and coping with all the responsibilities of managing a household, cooking etc. brought in some maturity. Yes, being blessed with a son brought me immense joy & to the entire family.
My professional career in the corporate world of finance, training (Sales, Products, processes) gained me many accolades and professional achievements, milestones such as: being selected for the only job position out of 285 candidates for a US based company, Winning the national level quiz at a corporate having qualified through local, regional & zonal rounds, Achieving targets, getting selected for specialized trainings, getting good ratings, promotions etc
I truly believe in the power of Self-assessment, conviction, opportunities, financial independence, unconditional love, efforts, planning and commitment. We can overcome all the obstacles, achieve our personal, work-related goals & fulfil our aspirations if we submit ourselves unconditionally to God, perform all our tasks, duties with full vigour, conviction, honesty; unconditionally surrender to the organization’s ethos and learn to respect others besides helping them when in need.
This strong belief is a result of incidents in my life that I have encountered and overcome with all the above-mentioned strengths.
I joined Dheya in January 2017, prior to which I was comfortably sailing through in the professional space with freelancing assignments of training (delivery and content), coaching students (school & college) participated in exhibition cum sales where I sold handcrafted Christmas themed items which I personally made over a period of 45 days.
Was I happy & content with my life and existing scenario? Was Dheya an option I should consider or discard?
Well, I was happy with the existing situation but I did give Dheya a serious thought after undertaking the Dheya Personality test (High on D and P) and on Self Assessment, I realized that I had achieved Professional excellence in organizations where I had worked in process-oriented environments, where jobs had to be executed that were well designed and delegated to me in a structured way rather than where it was not so structured and also at tasks where I had to solicit business on my own.
Further, having self-assessed my career with the report and duly convinced with the same, I thought Dheya’s orientation would help me in the process of facilitating my son in identifying his career path and goals. Moreover, I have been closely associated with school and college students over all these years due to teaching, coaching and training assignments are undertaken taken by me from my college days, initially with small tuitions graduating to group tuitions, coaching, specialized training subsequently.
Incidents do often shape our paths or encourage us to pursue passions which were not considered earlier. Well, an incident too convinced me to think again and encouraged me to take a decision. This incident occurred when I attended the Mid Career training session with Dheya in August 2017 facilitated by Anand Desai.
I attended the Level 2 and 3 training that included mid-career Assessment. During this training session, we were asked to fill up the Dheya workbook for ourselves w.r.t Work-related goals, skills, learning style, Expectation Analysis, personal and family preferences narrowing to Top values, preferences, achievements; finally defining success for ourselves and personal vision after going through the visualization process. It was highlighted that at the mid-career stage of life it is essential to have multiple streams of income and in order to overcome a mid-career crisis, it is high time we assess our passion areas and start our journey without any delay.
I undertook these exercises truthfully while bifurcating between my passion, skills, knowledge areas and related careers for me. A lot of Marketing strategies for startups were discussed at the training session.
By the end of the 2 days marathon training session it was revealed that the passion area which I had ignored and never thought of considering a business opportunity was “cooking”. Besides my current work that I was engaged in, food business was one of the areas that I could get into.
While on my way home, I decided that I am not going to be a prisoner of my past but become the architect of my future. I will not limit myself to thoughts of – I am too lazy to start my own business or I don’t have enough money to do this or how will I solicit business, reach out to people etc.
Cooking has been my passion, something that de-stresses me, makes my heart and soul feel perky. It also brings fond memories of my mother, cooking various delicious dishes which I have learned to replicate over the years. I love to tweak and combine recipes, being very comfortable with Maharashtrian, Goan & Mangalorean food and also other related different styles like Malwani, Chinese & north Indian type of cuisine and love preparing snacks, starters, soups, main courses, chocolates etc.
I was so excited to start a small venture on something that I love but the rigmarole of soliciting business was something I disliked and was not comfortable to take it up. At this moment my husband, with his hardcore marketing and sales expertise in Retail Sales, Franchising business in varied sectors, one who knows my temperament, skills, abilities, who is my greatest critic and most importantly a diehard fan of my cooking, came to my rescue.
We discussed in length over this proposition and he opined that initially I had to operate from home as operating from a rented outlet would mean fixed expenses, which could always be done at a later stage. According to him, the best way to reach out to people in the initial phase was through tiffin service which will enable to showcase my cooking, variety of cuisine that I can offer, flavour, presentation, quality, consistency etc., along with small catering orders. Considering the type of business, locality, customers in terms of taste, eating habits we chalked out a business marketing and sales plan for my food venture.
To understand the nuances of this food business, it was necessary to know what was the existing practices being followed by other vendors w.r.t. content, price, quantity, quality, packaging, delivery etc (Market survey). Further, I got hold of menu cards of those supplying food on order in different categories like main course, starters, snacks, salads etc which gave me a fairly good idea of the existing situation and the path I should adopt to make my offering noticed and appreciated which would lead to me being the preferred vendor after considering the parameters of taste, quality, quantity, hygiene, packaging and promptness in delivery.
I decided to provide sample tiffins over 2 days in August’17 immediately after conducting the survey. For the purpose of sampling, a What’s App message was sent by a close friend who is a community helper stating that I will start the Tiffin services from mid-September and those interested in getting a taste of the food should avail of the sample tiffin. There were quite a few who opted for the sample tiffins and I also gave few sample tiffins to a couple of respectable and popular well known senior ladies in the vicinity who I believed would give me a honest feedback on the tiffins considering they are well-known cooks themselves.
The objective of this exercise was to spread the word around about my new business venture, have a reality check as to the taste of my food from the food critics whose response will be a great assurance and give me the confidence to enter into this food business.
It just began then….. Started the tiffin service with few tiffins in September 2017, which grew over the period,
Started getting home orders for lunches, dinners, snacks, and small catering orders (also catered for Dheya for one of the training session of CDF batch at Andheri Seed InfoTech).
There are a lot of important elements that need to adhere to like managing time, delegating work, timely dispatch of tiffins, maintaining the quality, consistency of taste, menu variety, procurement of material, procurement costs, averaging the cost, maintaining records etc. Currently employed a team of 2 girls and 1 boy who have been assigned specific tasks, who together complement each other to effectively get the scheduled dishes prepared with the timeline to ensure that the tiffins are packed, delivered to the customers at their respective homes for them to enjoy a hot and sumptuous meal.
It is truly a very satisfying and humbling experience when you receive compliments and feedback from your customers about the taste and preparation which they thoroughly enjoyed. Such feedback encourages me to try other dishes and experiment with ingredients to enhance the taste of certain dishes. I do also take feedback and suggestions very positively and this has helped me to grow in relationships, gain confidence and respect from others
The beauty of this endeavour is that I have earned good clientele without any advertising; it was only through what’s App message and word of mouth. Overall the results have been decently satisfying as the margins are above 50%. The level of margin is achieved when there is no high investment and minimal operating costs.
I will admit that there is a nagging voice in my head urging me to ramp up the business by taking a place on lease and setting up a mini-restaurant as a first step towards opening a full-fledged restaurant.
So yes, I have my hands full with work and most importantly at my own pace, from the comfort of my home!!
So friends, if I have to sum up my life experience till now ….
Let me take the cake as a metaphor for what we want in life. It is about our work-related goals, our expectations, our purpose, plans, personal relationships with families, friends on the whole. Each of us has our own idea of the cake and we pursue it because we believe it makes us happy and we want it.
You all might feel that all is well and I am going great guns’ much so what I have been told to write this inspirational story. I too have many challenges in life and it is like a titanic sailing through troubled waters. It has been hit by icebergs on a couple of occasions such as death, sickness, despair etc. Will the Titanic sink? My answer is a definite NO! I am going with the flow, there are angels around to help, to guide me; my belief, unconditional love, faith in prayers and efforts will definitely calm the storm, plug the leakage saving the Titanic from sinking.
Coming back to our priceless cake, we must smell it time and again. If there is any odour of insecurity, procrastination, laziness, doubt, greed, a bitterness of our past, we must discard it and bake a fresh one. Let’s make our own recipe for our own cake with special ingredients chosen by us such as passion, conviction, goal, vision, unconditional love and surrender to our work philosophy, efforts and prayers.
Come let’s gather around the table and cut the newly baked priceless cake.
Thanks to the Dheya team for asking me to write my story. Special thanks to Anand, Naveen, Arvind, Ashwini, Sanket, Parag and of course Smita who has been with me from the day I started with Dheya.
Last but not the least, friends, let’s shut our eyes and picture a scene taking place many years in future. If over a dinner at an elegant dining room among our loved ones, we were to speak about ourselves as a person, our achievements our contributions to those we love and our society, would we really want to hear that we have lived in an uninspired fashion without PASSION and without concrete accomplishment? How would we feel on hearing that we were unable to work on our passion area? … Because we were busy trying to perform our daily chores and so very tired at the end of our day! So “Wakeup Call” friends to powerfully change what we would like to hear at the dinner!!!
Wow, I just realized I really loved writing my story. So maybe, do I also contemplate pursuing writing too?
A good Opportunity is seldom presented and is easily lost.
Dheya Career Development Facilitator- Swati D’Silva