Finance is one of the several industries where Women have found it hard to rise to the top. Though Fintech may have shaken things up, in terms of diversity much remains to be done. Introducing one such leading female business leader in Finance Sharda Deepakraj Lala, IRDA and AMFI Certified Financial Advisor and founder of Siddhantha Wealth Managers. She founded Siddhantha Wealth Managers in the year 2006 with the goal of providing solutions for Wealth Creation and Wealth Preservation which paves the path of financial prosperity amongst the people. Besides being a successful businesswoman, Sharda Deepakraj Lala is also a proud mother of a 5-year-old son.
Sharda Deepakraj Lala shares her experience and journey as an entrepreneur.
- Can you tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur? What inspired you to start your own business?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – My entrepreneurial journey started after my marriage. I got a wonderful life partner from my husband – Deepakraj Lala. He is a practising Chartered Accountant. He wanted me to be aware of managing finances and also educate others to manage their finances. With this objective in mind, he encouraged me to become IRDA and AMFI Certified Financial Advisor. This led to the foundation of our business – Siddhantha Wealth Managers in the year 2006.
- What problem or need does your product/service address? How did you identify this gap in the market?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – We provide solutions for Wealth Creation and Wealth Preservation. This we do through drafting customized financial planning to suit the best interests of our customers.
There are various steps to financial planning starting with having an emergency fund, health insurance, life insurance, financial goals planning like for children’s education, children’s marriage, retirement planning, and then for aspirations. People earn income and then spend on their needs & impulsive cravings. Then they are not left with anything to save. With our financial planning, they earn and then save, and whatever balance remains after saving they spend.
- What sets your business apart from competitors in the industry? How do you differentiate yourself?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – We can provide you best Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Car/bike Insurance and other insurance with any Insurance Company of your choice. You can invest in best schemes of Any Mutual Funds available in the market as we are associated with all of them. We also deal in Sovereign Gold Bonds, Fixed Deposits, AIF, PMS, Peer Lending, and many other innovative products. Transactions can be done through a completely Online process in a paperless manner or in the offline method as per the convenience of the customer. We Put Client’s interest before our interest. We provide Expert support for: Wills, Income Tax and other compliances.
Our USP is
1 Imparting Financial Education.
2 Solutions for Financial Needs.
3 Creating Wealth for Community.
- How do you envision your business evolving in the next 5 years? What are your long-term goals and aspirations?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – In the next 5 years with the ever-emerging economy and India poised to become a 7 trillion economy in the next 5 years, I see a lot of potential for growth in our business. Our long-term goals and aspirations are totally aligned with the financial prosperity of our clients. Their financial prosperity will help us achieve our goals. We intend to become one of the most respected, recommended, and recognized wealth managers in India as well as internationally.
- What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when starting your business, and how did you overcome them?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – The biggest challenge for our business is getting customers. Everyone complains of being short on money. They say we are living on day to day basis. How can we afford to be insured or make investments? Nowadays, everyone is having loans to be repaid on EMIs, which causes another dent in their savings. This is an ongoing problem even today. We constantly educate them about the necessity of financial planning and create solutions for their financial prosperity. We help them achieve their financial goals, aspirations, and desires. This moots them to do business with us.
- How do you approach risk-taking as an entrepreneur? What is your philosophy when it comes to taking calculated risks?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – Entrepreneurship and Risk—taking goes hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin. We need to take a calculated risk so that we don’t go overboard with its worst outcome. The current trending filmy dialog – “Risk hai to Ishq hai” is a morale-booster.
- How do you manage and prioritize your time effectively as a busy entrepreneur? Do you have any specific strategies or techniques?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – As a woman, my first priority is my family. Nothing can come between my family. With the undaunted support of my family, I am able to manage my time effectively. Nowadays due to online meetings and work-from-home culture, things have eased out to some extent. Though it is difficult to manage time, we need to effectively manage the tasks by categorizing them into priority, important, and not so-important. Priority ones need to be handled first and so on. This helps me manage my time effectively.
- How important is networking and building relationships in your industry? How do you go about establishing and nurturing those connections?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – It is said networking is Networth. Networking is very important in our industry. It helps in building new relationships. I am part of the Service Organization – International Inner Wheel which has helped me in creating a very good network that has become like an extended family for me. Besides this, I am attending a lot of business networking meets to create and build new connections.
- What role does innovation play in your business? How do you foster a culture of creativity and continuous improvement?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – Innovation is very important in business. There is a sea change in the way business was being done earlier and the way it is being done now. Due to the internet and 24-hour news channels, the general public is well-informed about current news and developments. We also need to keep pace with the kind of information that they have gathered. Digital platforms have emerged for doing online transactions and they keep on updating and innovating their software and user interface to make it better day by day. We use social media increasingly nowadays to capture and retain the attention of potential customers. There is a lot of creativity and continuous improvement happening in the way we make use of social media to reach out to our clients.
- How do you handle failure and setbacks? Can you share an example of a setback you faced and how you bounced back from it?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – Failure and setbacks are very intimidating initially. But once you deep dive into it and bounce back, they are very good teachers. One needs to keep a positive mindset, full of hope, faith, and trust in this adversity. One should double up the efforts and actions to come out of it.
Lockdown during Covid in March 2020 was one of the recent setbacks. We were having a difficult time in convincing our clients to hold on and continue with their investments. There were covid related illnesses amongst our clients. Many of them succumbed to death. But this challenging time also created awareness about health insurance, life insurance and necessity of proper investment amongst their families and in turn they started taking interest in financial planning. Also, since physical movements were restricted during lockdown and social distancing was implemented, people were becoming keen to do the transactions online digitally. This again became a blessing in disguise during pandemic.
- How do you stay motivated and maintain a positive mindset during challenging times in your entrepreneurial journey?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – I do meditation and self-healing through reiki. I read a lot of self-help books. “Whatever happens, happens for Good” is the ultimate guidance statement for me.
- What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – Entrepreneurship is a wonderful journey for leading your own life to its fullest potential. You contribute your own self, soul, and heart with full passion to reach the pinnacle of your business. The sky is also not a limit for your endeavor to reach to greatest of heights in business.
- How do you approach decision-making in your business? Do you rely more on data and analytics, or do you follow your intuition?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – While making decisions, I first do internal thinking, then take inputs and suggestions from my inner circle of trusted people which includes my husband, my parents, and my close friends. After considering all these inputs, I take a decision with total responsibility on myself. I don’t blame anyone other than me if the decision turns out to be bad. Intuition is also a good guiding factor but it needs to be accepted by the head and heart.
- How do you build and lead a successful team? What qualities do you look for when hiring new employees?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – Building a successful team is a very challenging task. Recruitment and Retention of employees is becoming difficult nowadays because of the personal ambition of each staff person. The most important quality I see while hiring people is their dedication and commitment to the job.
- How do you stay updated on industry trends and changes? What strategies do you use to ensure your business stays ahead of the curve?
Sharda Deepakraj Lala – Since I deal with Wealth Management, it is very important to stay updated on industry trends and changes on a daily basis. I read Financial News about Indian Economy as well as International Development on a regular basis. I attend business conferences, meetings, and seminars to get knowledge and awareness about industry trends. Interacting with peers in the industry is also very helpful to keep me updated about the current developments in my sector.
Connect – http://www.linkedin.com/in/sharda-lala