“The spirit of entrepreneurship is unique. You will discover it by yourself and then it just takes over you and claims you completely.”
You could say that words kept her been spell-bound. And zeroing in on Justwords seems perfect for Payel Mukherjee, Chief Executive, when she set up the content-focused marketing agency to dwell on content experiences.
What exactly makes content engaging? Fostering engagement goes beyond the mingling of words and yes, the “engagement factor” depends on the entire content experience. So, what does it take to create an engaging content experience? Get the right picture as Shree Lahiri talks to Payel about her journey.
Q1. Tell us a little about your venture – Justwords. How did you start up, and was your motivation then and, what do you aim to achieve?
Justwords is a content-focussed marketing agency. Our aim is to create growth-focused content experiences and build transformative digital journeys for businesses. Throughout this journey, we help brands tell the right stories, find connected audience, traffic and achieve online growth.
I started Justwords in 2010 with the idea of creating a brand that could be trusted for developing really good copy. I was working then for a specialist media company where we were trying to source good content for some projects. I realised then that good content was hard to find, as were agencies who could provide good content at required deadlines and affordable prices. Online content was going to become the next big thing and I felt this was the right time to start up – something which I had always longed to do. Also, I had a 3-year-old at home, so this was the perfect way I could also spend more time with her as well as pursue my dream of starting my own business.
From a one-woman army, Justwords has emerged as a full-fledged content marketing agency, which even picked up prestigious awards from Google for two consecutive years. We have been growing at an incredible rate the last 4 years and I feel so grateful for that. In the next few years, I want to make brand Justwords synonymous with content experiences in India and the world over. It’s ambitious but I feel we can do through true-blue content marketing. We are also planning to building content marketing courses, especially for small businesses run by for women entrepreneurs, so that they can market their products better.
Q2. Where did the inspiration for starting out on your own, come from?
Though I worked for first 9 years of my career, I knew I would do something on my own. I get bored easily so I wanted to do something that would excite me and allow me to explore new things everyday.
The spirit of entrepreneurship is unique. You will discover it by yourself and then it just takes over you and claims you completely. You suddenly know when it’s the right time, you find the inspiration and the courage to follow your dream and then you just take a leap of faith.
Q3. How has your experience been so far, with setting up an entrepreneurship business in Gurgaon?
It’s been an amazing journey so far. Justwords started as a one-woman army and now has become a full-service agency. In a way, Gurgaon provided the perfect setting. There were lots of brands looking for good content and wanting to understand how to explore the online content formats better. We got our first big order from Nokia because we were there at the right time at the right place. A friend of mine had given my reference and I had to go and meet them in order to close the deal. That would not have happened if I was not in Gurgaon. That got us started and provided the revenue to move further. Over the years, this city has given Justwords a lot of opportunities.
Q4. How did your life change as you turned into a woman entrepreneur? What were the challenges you faced, while trying to scale up your business?
Building a business is almost like raising a baby, infact, sometimes even more demanding than a kid. If you are a woman running a business and you have kids at home, you are constantly running out of time since you looking out for all babies. It’s almost funny how 24 hours is always too short for getting things done.
The biggest challenge while scaling up was finding the right resources. When you are a startup, it’s very difficult to find the right people. They are either not that talented, or don’t share your passion for the work, or are far too expensive. So, the time-frame becomes longer and you end up loading yourself with a lot more work than you can handle.
Q5. Do you think being a woman entrepreneur worked to your advantage or ushered in challenges?
I would just say that being an entrepreneur is a liberating experience. It helped me discover the real me, it gave me the confidence to do what I love to do, to do it my way, to make money on my own terms and live the way I want to. Entrepreneurship has its own set of challenges but, I feel, everything is worth this experience.
Q6. What was the role your family and friends played in your becoming a successful entrepreneur? How do you balance your professional and personal life?
Building a business takes a lot of hard work, patience and time. That is impossible to achieve without your family supporting you all the way, especially for women entrepreneurs. I am blessed to have family and friends, who have always rallied to my support whenever I have needed them. My partner has stood rock-solid throughout this journey, helping me overcome the darkest phases of business and find the strength to recover and bounce back. My family, especially my mom and mom-in-law, and close friends have always been there to cheer me up, look after my kids, and make me feel proud of what I have achieved.
It’s difficult to balance between home and work but I am getting better at it. I try to get to office early and come back early, but that does not always work. Also, I try not to take calls post 8pm. My elder daughter used to complain earlier that I am working too much at home, so I am consciously trying to stop that.
Q7. Do you think women entrepreneurs support other women across the value chain of business? How have you impacted/ supported/ mentored the careers of other women?
I was part of Goldman Sachs’10,000 Women Programme – a global initiative to provide women entrepreneurs around the world management education, mentoring and networking. Though I didn’t complete the full term, I did see a lot of women entrepreneurs helping each other post that journey. I think women instinctively reach out to help each other but we need more such communities for women entrepreneurs.
I cannot say I have impacted lives yet but I always try to help startup founders (especially women) with whatever knowledge I have. But yes that’s definitely a huge goal for me – helping women entreprenuers, especially those in smaller towns and cities,better market their business and also create an international community of women entreprenuers where everbody helps each other and supports each other.
Q8. What would be your top 3 secret mantras, for any woman looking to start her own business?
I would say –
- Be patient and build resilience. Building a business is full of ups and downs. There are good times and bad times and you need to accept both to move ahead. You need to believe that you will survive this phase. Try and meditate everyday for at least 15 minutes. This provides a whole lot of mental strength.
- Make sure what you are delivering – whether product or service is good. If your service/product is good, people will always come back. There should be no compromise on quality. Make sure you are involved yourself in improving service. Do leave it to your sales team only for the first 2 or 3 years.
- Be your own kind of entrepreneur. Business is always measured with success. Don’t let that pressure you. Always do business in the way you feel most comfortable. Don’t let others’ notions of entrepreneurship dictate how you should do business. Work slow and steady and be your own kind of entrepreneur.