Having your own business/ company is a tricky job.
Sure there are several benefits. You can decide your own work timings, you are your own boss and the boss of a few (or several) other people in the office, you can take a leave whenever you want etc etc. But the biggest point of worry is that every rupee you wrongly spend or any of your employees inappropriately spends is a direct hit on your take home money. The ‘company’ is actually you. And management is also you. The buck stops here and you are never away from that responsibility.
Especially being a Chartered Accountant and the Chief Financial Officer of our company, there are several days when I am just writing cheques – one after the other. It makes me so nervous. Where is all this money going? Courier bills, telephone, electricity, travel bills of 30 odd employees, hotel bills of foreign visitors, salaries, incentives, bank charges, bank guarantees, earnest money deposits, repair work for the office, stationary, it is an unending list.
When I was doing my internship or later working in a bank, these things never crossed my mind. We as auditors always got all expenses reimbursed. Once while auditing in Kerela, we went to the Pizza Hut and placed an order by looking at the right side of the menu. We ate the 4 costliest pizzas available there that night. I feel ashamed about it now, but I at that point it felt like a perfect revenge. Against the client who was a difficult auditee and against the boss of the CA firm who made us work long hours.
Now when I see bills under “guest entertainment” I know exactly what happened at those lunches. And it is not very pleasing, let me tell you.
Apart from being the CFO, I am also a one woman HR army. It is really nothing considering it’s just 30 employees , but every morning I check my cellphone to see messages saying ‘I won’t come today as my daughter is sick’ or ‘I will come late as trains are running late’ or a simple ‘grant me leave today for personal reason’. I immediately approve (what other choice do I have) but I start getting worried about the tender which is due today. If Ms. X is absent, who will do that job and so on.
But honestly the real pressure of the business, the actual sales and marketing side is my husband’s and father-in-law’s area. I don’t have to to deal with tough negotiations with customers or even that “sponsored trip” to Mumbai to visit our office. I am glad for that coz I would have sucked at it. I am rather curt and in my head “a rule is a rule”. But I am learning. By looking at my husband and noting how he deals with the customers. Or studying the emails my father in law, the MD of the company sends out, how he easily sugar costs the hardest of truths.
When we meet fellow business owners or entrepreneurs of startups etc, we are often interested in how they spend their actual workday. Because a lot of time each day we are primarily doing fire-fighting activities at work. The E-tender website of some tender is not working, one day the internet connection fails, nationalised bank was on strike, the courier which was supposed to reach yesterday is lost in transit and oh I can go on an on.
Before marriage everyone I knew had a salaried job. And that was my aim too. In fact, I had met one guy for an arranged marriage proposal and I rejected it because they had their own factory etc and wanted me to work there. Whenever anyone suggested I should start my CA practice, I ran away from there. I thought I am just not meant to be in that place. The responsibility felt too much.
But now its been four years since I am working in our own company and it feels that I have found my place. The joy of working towards a common goal of expanding our own business along with my husband is immeasurable. Of course several times we keep on discussing work at dinner table, or we can never switch off our phones even on a holiday, but thats what keeps us together.
And I think a lot of that credit goes to my father and mother in law who started the company 33 years back but have very comfortably handed it over to us, with their expert guidance always available. They have given us space without alienating from us or the company.
It is now our moral and social responsibility to take it to the next level. We owe it to ourselves and our next generations.