Ritu Grover always knew she was going to be her own boss. And if that meant pouring her savings into a business she believed in, she was ready to do it. Her brainchild was The Global Help Desk, a Company that provides programs and lifestyle management solutions to corporate houses. Today, 18 years later after she started, her Company successfully provides services to more than 300 top MNC’s & companies across India. In this chat with Ria Das Ritu talks about her journey as an entrepreneur and her complete belief in her business.
The start-up idea struck like lightening
When I finished my college as a trained interior designer in 1988, I found myself working in the field, dirtying my hands. Month and a half later I realized that I was not cut out to do work for anybody except me. So, destiny led me to my own interior designing organization. We started as a regular interior designing firm and 5 years down the line shifted to corporate interiors.
In 1996, I was expecting my baby; suddenly everything around me became too tight and I was finding it difficult to make both ends meet. The Corporate industry is very mindful of deadlines and there are penalties if you don’t finish work on time. I found myself in a fix where I wanted to diversify, but was also in a situation where balancing work life was becoming very difficult. One day while returning from office very late, I observed closely the lights in the offices and employees still working desperately at their desks and going through graveyard shifts. And that’s when lightning struck me. I felt the urgency of developing efficient services which could make lives simpler and get a work–life balance for the corporate employees.
The beginning of The Global Help Desk was a bit hard for me, in terms of connecting to bigger business houses and convincing them about a concept like concierge services. Initially I offered them free services and it took me 2 years to get my first client for consultancy services. Then I started a pioneer project. Amused by our services clients extended the project. Now it is a PAN INDIA facility management solutions Company.
The biggest quality of an entrepreneur is transparency. And the first skill s/he should have is ability to take risk.
The Global Help Desk story was a learning experience every day
When I took the risk, I ventured into a domain which practically had no manuals, no written documents not even a role model from whom I would get inspiration. From day one everything was a big learning for me and initially I didn’t even know if I could go last with the team and convince corporates to take on the idea.
Starting with 5 members, the first verticals I offered them were loyalty, lifestyle services and concierge services. As we started working with corporates, we were told to assist them in events, mail room management and rewards and recognition. All the initial relentless hard work paid off, because today we are a strong work force of 300+ people with full-fledged verticals working for the corporates. Our services include integrated facility management, Concierge Services, Automated Mailroom Management, Expat Management, NRI management, Rewards & Recognition Programs, Relocations and we are renowned for delivering customized programs that reinforce company business goals while responding personally and flexibly to individual customers’ needs. We promise to leverage technology while optimizing costs and productivity for our clients and exceeding their expectations.
The challenges on the road to success
As I already mentioned before, first one is starting up a company with no manuals, no books written about it. In any other businesses, there would be some seniors to learn from. Having no one around in this business, we learnt from our own mistakes.
The second big challenge was untrained manpower because there were no courses regarding the issues in our field. Next was training them, making them understand the concept and values. We hired very basic level graduates, so explaining to them about the concept of customer sensitivity was difficult. We virtually run a school for training purposes.
The last challenge was balancing my family and work. I got immense support from my loved ones and that’s the reason I could concentrate on my other family, my venture. Basically the whole journey has been challenging but there was no challenge that we could not overcome. This is entirely been our own funding.
Risk taking ability is a must to be an entrepreneur
The biggest quality of an entrepreneur is transparency. And the first skill s/he should have is ability to take risk. The initiation you’ve taken can be transformed into a funeral, so always be prepared for the future. The next thing to take care of is that one should be careful of training sessions. It’s very easy to hire someone but difficult to make them passionate about the company. Once you have trained peers, the effort goes in retaining them. Make sure the employees you have trained know the sensitivity of growing with goodwill. And, of course, hardwork, honesty, good attitude and team work are some basic traits of an entrepreneur.
Motivating a team in tough times
The greatest way to motivate and inspire your team is to lead from the front. If you are not being active at work, your team won’t respect you. But if they observe you through failures, and watch you starting off again with the same spirit, they actually get the fired with enthusiasm. Also, while training them, share some inspiring stories. What we do very often within our company is organizing rewards & recognition programs, so they get a sense of victory and belongingness to the company. The company is 18 years old now, and the oldest member has worked here for 14 years. So, this is huge in terms of having an ethical team around me always.
There will be lots of ups and downs but always look for the ups. Everyday is a new day, new learning day for entrepreneurs.
The strengths of Women Entrepreneurs
The biggest strengths women bring are:
–Multi-tasking skills. All the time we are ready to make everything perfect around us with our multi-tasking skills.
–After work we go home with same amount of patience and make family members happy everyday.
–Keenness to perfection and detailing.
–Sensitivity towards the team.
Advice for young entrepreneurs
My advice would be what my mother advised me long ago- never look back. There will be lots of ups and downs but always look for the ups. Everyday is a new day, new learning day for entrepreneurs. So, focus on achieving.