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The Road to Success for Women Entrepreneurs In recent times, the number of women stepping into the entrepreneurial domain has increased tremendously

By Saroja Yeramilli

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Women are evolving in every part of the world—and this evolution is gradually lifting the so-called bias that society has held for centuries. Women have always been thrust into situations where they need to take on a variety of roles as a daughter, wife or mother. So it's no surprise that today, many uphold the title of "entrepreneur' with aplomb. It can easily be said that if a woman tries, she can surely succeed in building something of an empire for herself. In recent times, the number of women stepping into the entrepreneurial domain has increased tremendously. In the US, more than 24% of all businesses are either female-led or have more than 50% ownership by women. India is not far behind. With the country being home to the maximum number of start-ups, second only to China, it is not surprising to see that 11% of all these enterprises are headed by women. Even though this means there are only 550 women-led start-ups in the country out of a total of more than 5,000, the number is certainly encouraging.

Beyond policy changes

Times have changed for women who climb the corporate ladder. The government, known for its pro-entrepreneurial vision, has once again exhibited its confidence and support for the start-up community by offering them a bouquet of promises in the 2019 budget. This year's Union budget has introduced many new provisions for the MSME sector and brought a fresh lease of life for the start-up ecosystem. Experts are happy with the new interest subvention scheme and the provisions of the Mudra loan aimed particularly at women entrepreneurs. However, contemporary women business owners and visionaries want not just policy changes but also a change in the mindset of people. While they have been limited by rigidity and stereotypes in the past, women are now rewriting the rules by not only breaking the glass ceiling but also traditional notions of what is expected of them.

Many leaders are of the belief that in order to unleash the true potential of women in business, common prejudices that still exist across homes and workplaces must leave. It is time to take a leap of faith and fight our apprehensions of having an equal number of women in the board room. An important point here is that we must stop judging women for everything from whether having children will affect the investment in her business to the level of competency she will bring to work. We must draw inspiration from the many successful women entrepreneurs who have proven their mettle. It is now up to families to drop their pungent attitude towards their career-oriented daughters and other women.

Why women-led businesses are more successful

Women entrepreneurs often find it difficult to raise funds for their business and each one has a different story to tell. While it is disheartening to note that many have faced repeated rejections despite having commendable financial expertise and business acumen, there is hope as many women-focused investors are rising up to the financial needs of these entrepreneurs, and there is enough data to support this fact. Reports suggest that the financial performance of companies that had more female representation in the top management was comparatively better with higher total return to shareholders (34%) and higher return on equity (35%). One of the factors for this is that women tend to be better at building lasting and meaningful relationships even in business. They are also more insightful and aware about consumer needs, especially the female users. It can also be said that women board members give spending decisions a more careful thought and indulge in fewer acquisitions compared with men.

Business: a passionate affair

As for true leaders, they don't care if people think that they are not the final one in charge. They do not fall prey to societal pressures and are not intimidated by small things that come in the way of running their business. In order to succeed, women entrepreneurs not only have to be exceptionally good at what they do but also exceed expectations and break free from whatever is holding them back. There is no stopping a woman who wears her strengths and weaknesses on her sleeve. Globally, women-led businesses are taking the competitive edge by intrinsically building around cause marketing. The latter is all about linking your brand to a cause, be it social, medical or environmental. Perhaps it is easier for women to align their business' core vision with their own values, and to focus marketing on boosting customer awareness with an aim to give something in return to the community. Successful women entrepreneurs would agree that they are more likely to grow their personal passion into a business and leave a powerful positive impact on the world at large.

India really needs more women entrepreneurs in its process of nation building and changing lives. Experts believe that women have a certain edge over men when it comes to running a business. They bring more to the table given their exceptional abilities to multitask, design and control the spending mechanism of an entire household unit, attention to detail and acute sense of relationship and sensitivity. It is important to bring to light the success stories of women entrepreneurs so as to inspire many more to step out of their domestic territories. It is time to make India more amenable to women entrepreneurs and take our society to a place where they will be called just "entrepreneurs'.

Saroja Yeramilli

CEO and founder, Melorra

Saroja Yeramilli is the CEO and founder at Melorra, one of the fastest-growing, fashion-inspired jewellery brand. Founded in 2016, the brand aims to create fashion-forward fine jewellery to meet the changing wardrobe needs of a modern woman. Melorra was born with her passion for innovation and her extensive collaboration with industry bodies like the World Gold Council, Diamond Trading Corporation (DeBeers), and Platinum Gold International.

She is a seasoned professional with 20 years of diverse experience in building successful brands in India and the USA. Saroja is responsible for transforming the brand Tanishq into an aspirational jewellery brand in the country. Her professional milestones include launching Tanishq stores in the USA and launching work-wear jewellery for the first time in the Indian jewellery segment.

An entrepreneur with immense experience in retail and expertise in setting up multicenter retail chain, she has leveraged her knowledge to redefine the contemporary fashion jewellery space in the country. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Management, she started her career in Ogilvy and Mather as an account executive. With the passion for gaining knowledge, she had joined Mudra communications to develop her sense of the market. She joined Titan in 1994 as the advertising head and internally moved to head sales for Tanishq. During her tenure at Tanishq, she proved her expertise in generating consumer demand and received high profitability. She later moved to head operations at the Marico-Kaya skin clinic. With vast proficiency in various fields from sales to advertising, Saroja was still on the lookout to acquire new knowledge in the field of marketing. She shifted to Dell Pvt ltd. to understand the retail space better. 

After two decades of profound experience, she founded Melorra - India’s leading technologically advanced fine jewellery creators who deliver ground-breaking designs that are original, contemporary and fashion-forward. 

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