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Sulochana Betwala : Must-Have Skills for Entrepreneurs in 2024

Sulochana Betwala, the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of TOTL, is distinguished for her continuous innovation and unwavering commitment to fostering growth within the business. Her exceptional communication skills and unique strength in understanding and adapting to diverse situations and individuals have consistently yielded remarkable results within constraints. Today, she shares her insights on the must-have skills for entrepreneurs in 2024.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into entrepreneurship?

From a young age, I learned the value of hard work while managing household responsibilities and diverse jobs. My work experience speaks for itself - working across different sectors enhanced my knowledge and emphasised the importance of building and maintaining relationships.

It was the pandemic that pushed me into entrepreneurship. Initially focusing on bill uploads, I quickly shifted to addressing pressing issues in payments, which aligned with the evolving needs of businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. My entrepreneurial journey is grounded in a strong work ethic, diverse industry experience, relationship-building skills, and addressing real-world challenges amplified by the pandemic.

What are the top three skills you think are crucial for entrepreneurs today?

The entrepreneurial journey can be challenging, but resilience and compassion can make all the difference. Patience and focus are really important in navigating uncertainties and committing to your long-term goals. Another crucial skill is embracing challenges as opportunities and seeking positive outcomes in every situation. This mindset fuels innovation and helps you become more adaptable in these rapidly evolving times.

And finally, the ability to build and nurture relationships is also essential. Success in entrepreneurship often depends on how well you have networked. A supportive network later helps in forming meaningful collaborations and partnerships.

How do you think the role of technology has impacted these skills in recent years?

In recent years, technology has brought advantages and challenges to crucial entrepreneurial skills. While access to technology can lead to a lack of focus, it also depends on how individuals organise and utilise it for their benefit to enhance efficiency and produce resourceful outcomes.

Technology has positively impacted the market landscape and opened up multiple avenues for fostering connections and forming partnerships. From marketing, communications, and analytics to networking on social media platforms, it facilitates connections and opens possibilities for business exploration. Leveraging these available channels has helped fuel people’s networking skills, helping everyone achieve their goals effectively.

Could you share a story with us about how you used some of these skills to overcome a challenge in your journey?

In my entrepreneurial journey, persistence and adaptability became pivotal skills. While developing a new app feature, we encountered a challenge where initial solutions were needed to meet the expected outcomes. Despite thorough planning, user feedback revealed usability issues. Rather than being deterred, we embraced the challenge.

Innovation can sometimes be better on the first go. Solutions are crafted as we navigate through challenges before achieving the desired outcome. In response, we swiftly pivoted, conducting additional user testing and fostering collaboration across teams to refine the feature. Iterative improvements based on user input addressed concerns effectively and highlighted the importance of user-centric design and iterative development.

This experience taught us that opportunities for improvement can arise at any stage of the business journey. By persistently seeking feedback, adapting to evolving circumstances, and nurturing collaborative relationships, we overcame challenges and strengthened our commitment to delivering a more successful and user-friendly app feature.

In your opinion, how important is it for entrepreneurs to adapt to changing trends and what do you see as the biggest trend in 2024?

Adapting to changing trends is integral to entrepreneurial success. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for swift adaptation, prompting a significant shift in the payment landscape. I, along with the team, experienced this by pivoting from a bill upload model to digital payments to meet evolving market demands. Sometimes, it is also about being the change by merging with today’s requirements.

Looking ahead to 2024, the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and sustainable technology is already rising as a significant trend. The emphasis on sustainability reflects a broader societal shift towards an eco-friendly society. Entrepreneurs need to harness the power of AI and sustainable technology, navigating vast databases to deliver efficient, convenient, and eco-friendly solutions.

Today’s technology demands speed and convenience but has unbeatable benefits and a sustainability advantage. The pandemic has taught us that having technology is not enough; it's about the value it adds and the level of sustainability it brings. Entrepreneurs must be mindful of changing trends, proactively integrate technologies with current requirements, and ensure their ventures contribute to a sustainable and resilient future.

What's one common mistake you often see new entrepreneurs make, and how can they avoid it?

A common mistake I frequently observe among new entrepreneurs is the desire for quick and immediate results. While profitability is undoubtedly crucial, there are no shortcuts to sustained success and achieving long-term goals. Entrepreneurs need to shift their mindset from seeking rapid outcomes to thinking through strategies that ensure lasting impact, not just for years but for generations.

Another significant pitfall is the need for more personal and work-life balance. Entrepreneurs often find themselves immersed in the demands of their ventures, neglecting their well-being and personal lives. Recognising that individual development, including taking time off for self-improvement, is vital to building a healthy company culture. Entrepreneurs need to view personal and professional growth as intertwined, with personal well-being directly impacting the success and sustainability of the business.

How do you keep learning and growing as an entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur, my approach to continuous learning and growth is rooted in embracing failures as opportunities. Each setback becomes a valuable lesson, a chance to refine strategies and correct mistakes. The ability to view challenges positively and summon the courage to stand up and learn from errors enhances personal and professional growth.

Learning has no end date; it's an ongoing process that evolves with the dynamic business landscape. Being adaptable and committed to staying informed are essential pillars of keeping up with the newer generation and changing trends. Entrepreneurship is a continuous learning curve where resilience, positivity, and a thirst for knowledge help you grow.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey in 2024?

My advice to someone starting their entrepreneurial journey in 2024 is to believe in yourself and remain steadfast in the face of challenges. Entrepreneurship is a demanding road, and your perseverance will be tested. Appreciate the patience and support of your loved ones throughout the journey.

Ensure that you stay consistent and focused on your main goal. It is important to remember why you embarked on this journey and let it be the fuel of your efforts. Stay updated with the latest trends and technological advancements to remain relevant and efficient. Be open to pivoting your business model based on market demand and prioritise creating the best possible user experience. It's a journey of resilience, innovation, and continuous learning—embrace it with determination and passion.


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