The Savings Series: How to build a profitable start-up
Ruby’s Organics founder Rubeina Karachiwalla opens up her bag of tricks
While watching The Jetsons as a waist-high seven-year-old, I’d dream of a flying object dropping off my favourite butter garlic prawns on my window sill. A few months ago, a headline took me back to this fantasy. “Zomato Successfully Tests Its First Meal Delivery Drone,” it read. We live in the age of the start-up — a term defined by the government as an entity headquartered in India, which opened less than 10 years ago with an annual turnover less than Rs. 100 crore. It’s easier than ever to turn an idea into a business and Indian entrepreneurs have never been more innovative.
In 2018 alone, 1,200 new companies were introduced to the Indian market, raising the existing number to 7,200, according to NASSCOM. But the secret behind turning a start-up into a money spinner is managing the resources you have.
Rubeina Karachiwalla’s struggle with finding makeup that didn’t make her sensitive skin break out gave birth to Ruby’s Organics – India’s first ethical makeup start-up that focuses on organic alternatives for chemical makeup. The range is paraben-free, vegetarian and against animal testing. Forbes reported Ruby’s Organics growing at an impressive rate of 10 to 15 percent per month. Drawing on her experience, Karachiwalla offers budding entrepreneurs a way to navigate the financial challenges that come their way.
You need experience of at least two years working for someone else before you venture in as an entrepreneur. “That will help you understand the challenges you’re likely to encounter and the expenses that might crop up in a way that no website, textbook or mentor can,” says Karachiwalla. It’s ideal to start as soon as possible; but don’t go all in. The initial phase is a trial run for your business model, so take smaller risks.
Spend time understanding every aspect of your start-up business so that you aren’t undone by jargon – “I learnt how to design a website even though I didn’t need to. It helps you ask the right questions and state your needs clearly.”
Set in motion
Karachiwalla suggests you set smaller goals that gradually help you achieve your desired outcome. Another effective strategy is to exaggerate expenses when planning your budget – multiply estimated expenses by two. “This ensures that you’re well within your means even in case of emergencies and don’t run short of funds.”
Seeking professional guidance helps minimise errors. “After I knew that I wanted to enter the beauty industry, I hired a research and development company to fine-tune products for me. They helped me improve the shelf life of my products and understand consumer needs.”.
Amidst all the budgeting, planning, and scheduling, if you manage to find some time to curl up with a cuppa, thumb through some recommendations from Karachiwalla’s reading list for budding entrepreneurs – The Art of the Start by Guy Kawaski, Think Like a Freak by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
Strike a balance between saving and reinvesting in your business so your start-up can continue functioning smoothly. “In the beginning, you’ll be re-investing every single rupee you make,” says Karachiwalla. Still, treat yourself like a paid employee. “Give yourself a salary from the very beginning even if it is as little as Rs 5,000. This will give you a clear indication of how much money your company is actually making,” she adds.
Investments aren’t just monetary, human connections are equally important. “Building relationships in the industry help you understand the business better but also helps you barter services, which brings down cost. Though, refrain from cutting corners by compromising on quality.”