To begin with an end: Journey & Meaning beyond the 9-to-5
Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Life is full of choices and we are constantly deciding. Some of these decisions are simple and have simple consequences that can easily be easily understood. Others are rather complex and can have consequences that can never be fully understood in advance. The simple decisions are easy, but the complex ones are what challenge you to work towards the best. What eventually matters is chasing your dreams and ensuring happiness for everyone around you.
Growing up, starting a business always excited me. I had big dreams and while a few laughed and nodded their heads indulgently; I smiled, knowing that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. My first rudimentary attempt was at the age of 15 when I started renting out speakers. Even though it was as simple as it sounds, it made me realize if there is a problem, there is a solution. My next attempt was with entrepreneurship was when we decided to form a nonprofit organization, Inara, back in the university which was possibly the greatest learning curve I have ever had. Following that, I worked on a tech-based startup, Taufir, for reducing water usage across households. This solution was eventually seed funded by Abu Dhabi University and Khalifa Fund. All this was truly exciting and I could not wait to get my hands dirty again, but before that having some sort of real-life work experience was essential to me. After seeking advice from several professionals, I began my career in tech consulting; if I wanted to own a successful business, it was essential to learn how to work at a corporate job for a few years.
Fast forward a couple of years to today, I am leaving my full-time job to join my dad to build Laumière Gourmet Fruits, a luxury food brand which was launched only August last year. Over the last 11 months, I have been helping him out as much as I could but with the scalability we are trying to achieve, now would be a great time for me to help build the brand further. This decision also made me realize that even though my dad founded the company, I could still be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship has several definitions. To me, an entrepreneur is someone who sees an opportunity where other people might not. An entrepreneur is someone who embraces challenges and is fueled by solving problems. So, while I may not be finding opportunities to start businesses, I am finding opportunities to grow one. Working at a gourmet food company is not the product that fuels my excitement; it’s the challenge of inventing new ways to grow, propagating good health, creating new processes, and staying ahead of the competition.
A family business can be both a great opportunity for you to live out your passions and ambitions, but it can also be a place that is bound in traditions that it can feel completely stifling for a young mind. I believe this opportunity is going to be great and will give me the opportunity to learn from the smartest man I know– my dad, Vivek Sharma. A lot of times younger generations feel compelled to join the family business, maybe because of the fear of letting down the family business or having an alternative plan. For me, it’s an opportunity to be truly excited about. The reason being, Laumière is a brand that connects luxury and nature to combine gourmet excellence with a healthy lifestyle. The model is primarily e-commerce based and over the last 12 months and we have successfully generated nearly 95% of the revenue online; we have successfully grown from a new online store to a brand that resonates with people across the USA and Canada. It's only right to spend my next few years building on the connection and expanding the brand globally. We are trying to bring a change to the world by introducing healthy & innovative fruit-based products to health-conscious people. The idea of working on a brand that is trying to bring a positive impact to the lifestyle truly mesmerizes me.
A lot of startups are founded each year, most die out or are bought well before they reach the high growth stage. Because of this, many people have experience starting a company, but very few have experience scaling one. Just as there are common patterns that early-stage companies follow, high-growth companies also face similar issues again and again. Every high-growth company eventually needs to tackle a similar set of challenges around organizational structure, seed-funding, culture building, hiring employees for roles, partnerships with other companies, and more. The next stage of my life at Laumière feels chaotic, scary, but I am not worried. With my dad’s experience of FMCG, luxury products, supply chain, and scalability and my experience of digital platforms, e-commerce, technology, and marketing, I am sure we can only continue on this journey stronger than ever before. My greatest fear in leaving the easy path I so carefully planned is the possibility of regretting my decision. A few years later I want to happily say this was the best decision I ever made and I will work towards it. Sometimes it’s more important to listen to yourself than others. Seeking advice can be helpful, but ultimately you need to know what excites you and listen to your heart.