From Corporate America to Self-Employed

Raksha JoshiWelcome, everyone. This is Hello Hump Day, and today we have Raksha Joshi with us. I am excited to learn how she has gone from being a corporate America diva to self-employed. I’m going to go ahead and read her bio for the people that don’t know her.

Raksha has over 30 years of experience in corporate America, serving as project manager and efficiency strategist, where she maximized departmental productivity to increase profitability. Everybody wants to increase profitability, right? She has also owned and operated multiple businesses during this time. She is the CEO and founder of Raksha Joshi Consulting LLC, which serves entrepreneurs with the guidance and structure to create and sustain (we love to support) successful lives and businesses. She is often referred to as a life and business architect, as she knows firsthand the importance of creating balance and harmony in all areas of life. Her favorite quote is, “It’s not where you start. It’s where you end.” by Zig Ziglar. That is a powerful quote, Raksha. Welcome.

Raksha: Thank you. I’m so glad to be here, Dotty.

Dotty: We are super excited to have you here. So can you tell us? Did you start with corporate America? How did you begin your career?

Raksha: I was a homemaker for the longest time – the kids went back to school, and it was time for me to do something productive. I’d always volunteered in the PTA and local activities with kids’ activities. I realized early on that I’m very good at getting things organized and getting things done.

Dotty: That is an incredible superpower.

Raksha: Right? Who else would have it but a mom? I started working with a major airline. I started as a customer service representative, and then the journey took me to become a trainer and a manager of a department. I began developing packages worldwide, and I noticed that I had a gift to work well under pressure.

Dotty: That is a gift. A lot of people don’t have that.

Raksha: Yeah. I had an excellent mentor there who developed those skills with me, and I could take them into other areas of my life. Then I transitioned to work in the hospitality industry, but more like a hotel base, and grew with them. I noticed a lot of efficiency issues right from the beginning. I was coming from a well-structured company to one that was hospitality – a lot of your day-to-day impacted the results. I started looking at what we could improve. What can we provide our customers to make their journey easier?

Dotty: So you started looking at it from the end-users perspective?

Raksha: Exactly, and that’s where I went into customer service. If sales are the bloodline, customer service is the lifeline.

Because you need sales, you need people to serve, right? So how can these two talk? If one speaks English, the other one speaks French, how do you get them to communicate? I went to my manager at that time, and I said, “Hey, I have an idea. What if we have a dedicated team that focused just on doing this? Just on creating communication between and getting to the core of what concerns our customers have, and how can we fulfill them, and positively impact our bottom line?” I was blessed that she listened to me, and she said, “You know what? Go pick yourself a group of three, and let’s put it together.” She gave me a month to put it together, and I had it together in a week because I already knew who I wanted to work with.

That’s really how it started. After that, it’s all history. My department became the hub of all company information. We had resorts and hotels in over 28 states, so we now had a centralized place. You have to laugh at this because when I joined them and have 30 years of experience, you might be able to relate to this: The company still had a filing room where physical files are kept.

We were able to create that into a digital thing. We brought them into the 21st century.

Dotty: Some people go kicking and screaming.

Raksha: I had some of that, but it was a no-brainer when they saw the bottom line. How it impacted and how it affected customer satisfaction. Then before I knew it, it dominoed because now they wanted to duplicate it in other areas.

Dotty: If I hear you, right, you are like the queen of taking a business and making it efficient. People who use company jargon, words shared in the industry that we consumers don’t even know what they’re talking about and putting it together with the consumer, the lifeblood of a business. Because without a consumer, you don’t have a business. You managed to marry those two together. So that the company benefits.

Raksha: Absolutely. And the consumer benefits.

Dotty: So you did this for a large hotel firm?

Raksha: Yes.

Dotty: In your bio, you said that you had some businesses going on the side. How did you carry that over to you to your businesses?

Raksha: Seeing what was happening in the big picture, I could now bring it home and see how I could change something here. What is missing is that I, as a small business owner, can provide so that I’m not competing with the larger companies.

Dotty: Hmm, that’s an exciting thought.

Raksha: It’s like you can see the big corporate hotel chains. You are meeting your Air B n B kind of thing.

Because there are certain things a big corporation, even if it wants to, can’t provide. Just because they don’t have the workforce or financially, it’s not feasible or doesn’t work.

Dotty: It’s not in their business model.

Raksha: For a small business, it does work because that is all they want to focus on.

So I’m always looking, even in my own business right now. One of the things I’m always listening for, and looking for, and asking people to identify for me – because I live in the business; I don’t always remember a need, but asking for feedback. What can be improved? What can be done? For me, it’s providing the resources. The systems are available from big corporations to small businesses in bite-sized pieces.

Dotty: So that’s what Raksha Joshi Consulting does, it provides resources or a system?

Raksha: My consulting is really to take a bird’s eye view of your business, and see areas that might be missing, and not come to you in one go and say, “Hey, you need a complete renovation.” Still, to come to you and say, “If you added this here, or that there or removed this, you will see the difference it will make.”

Dotty: Small little bites.

Raksha: Tiny little bites, that’s all. I also realized small businesses and entrepreneurs don’t have the budget of big corporations.

So it has to be affordable, and it has to be simple because we all don’t have an MBA in business. There are all three types of people that start a business. You’ve got the busy bee, who knows the work, who knows the bottom line – all they’re happy doing is the work. Then you’ve got the manager who just wants to keep everything neatly in its little compartments and make sure that things don’t get backed up. Then you have the visionary who just sees this glorified business that they want. They see the horizon, but they have no idea how they’re going to get there.

Dotty: Everybody comes in with one of those pieces.

Raksha: Yeah. So that’s where I come in. I’ll step in and work with you one-on-one or in a group setting – whatever you prefer, whatever environment that works for you. My goal is really to take off the blinders. Not to make you wrong, not to say you don’t know how to do this or that because God, I don’t know everything, but just to say, “Be open to it. Be open to looking at it from another angle.” Because you never went into a business, Dotty, to say, “I want to make less than what I made ay my nine-to-five job.

Dotty: Well, I would hope not.

Raksha: You hope not, but unfortunately, some people do that. Over 1800 people open a new business daily. 60% fail in the first year. So my thing was okay, why are 60% failing? Research showed that they do not have the training, resources, or other education needed to run a business.

Dotty: Right? They come in with a skill set of whatever it is that they’re good at.

Raksha: Exactly. And they think, “I can do it.” It’s not until they start their own business that they realize that the work they just quit did all of the hidden things for them. Someone else was there to pick up when they did not know something.

You are everything that you need. You’re the janitor; you’re the training and development department. You’re the research department; you’re the sales team, the marketing team, you’re it.

Dotty: And the bookkeeper.

Raksha: Let’s not even go there. That’s the heart of the business.

Dotty: Yes, it is.

Raksha: I understand the finances. That’s what I do. That’s what I focus on. I take you through that entire journey of building a business, right from conception. I go over all the different types of entities out there. DBA’s,  LLC’s, S-corps. I will explain to you the advantages and the disadvantages of them, so you get to choose which one is the right one for you. I don’t give you an accountant’s degree, but I give you a basic understanding of managing your cash flow and how not to have to pray when it’s time to pay your taxes.

Dotty: I remember those days.

Raksha: Trust me, I do too. I also help you write your business plan. So that you know exactly what action steps you need to take to get to the next level, and what some of the people that have worked with me have said, Dotty, is I have shaved off anywhere between six to 12 months of their business journey, because I gave them the tools to manage it and set it up the right way.

Dotty: Did you provide a shortcut?

Raksha: I provided an efficiency that if they use it and apply it, it will save time on their journey to success.

Dotty: Perfect. So how long? How long have you been self-employed?

Raksha: In total? Do you want me to count the parallel between my corporate life and business life?

Dotty: Yeah.

Raksha: I would say 20 years.

Dotty: Perfect. So you’ve got experience in everything that self-employed people go through. This kind of leads me to the following question: What do you find the biggest challenge to being self-employed?

Raksha: Being able to harmonize everything that needs to happen. By that, I mean, not just in your business – because you have to understand, you’ve got to be the salesperson initially; you’re the marketer; you’re everything – balancing that with your home life. Because you still have kids, you still have a spouse or a significant other, and you might be a caregiver for your family in different ways.

Dotty: Yeah.

Raksha: How do you merge that? When you become a business owner, it’s no longer you go to work nine-to-five, you come home, and now you can focus on your family. Or you have three weeks of vacation time coming up that you can take. As the business owner, in the beginning, there is no vacation.

Dotty: Well, there’s undoubtedly no paid vacation, even 20 years down the road.

Raksha: But if you set yourself up, right, it can be.

Dotty: Yeah.

Raksha: That was a huge piece that was missing. When I started doing that – you have to keep in mind that I was still married – I had a spouse who took some of that responsibility off me. Being single now and doing everything myself, it’s a different game. I have to manage to take care of everything. What I’m realizing is, finding that harmony is like orchestrating. You must know which instrument to call in, when, and when to let go. The biggest thing that has helped me, I would say, is embracing change.

Dotty: Really? Can you expand on that a little bit? People hate change.

Raksha: People do hate change. But the thing is, we change the moment we wake up. We’re changing beings, right? We’re evolving all the time. So we don’t realize that change that happens to us physically daily, but we see the difference outwardly, you know, like there’s a system upgrade. There’s a new process, a new product on the market replacing your product. How do you pivot? It’s constantly two steps ahead of what’s coming down the road. It’s not always easy. I’m not saying it’s easy.

Dotty: Right, because you have to know what is coming down the road.

Raksha: it might not be what you want. I mean, just think about the pandemic, right? Overnight, you were told to work from home. Many corporations were unhappy with it because they wanted people coming in. But now they realize that was the best thing that ever happened.

Dotty: Hmm. I hear, and I don’t know if it’s true, and I don’t know if there’s any way to quantify it. Still, I hear that more giant corporations, even like city and government agencies, are more efficient by having people work from home than coming into the office.

Raksha: Absolutely. There are reasons that people don’t call out as often.

Dotty: They’re not standing by the watercooler talking either.

Raksha: There are no missed workdays; there’s no downtime because they’re not taking the breaks that they would typically take. They’re not popping into somebody else’s office to catch up on what happened over the weekend, and before they know it, it’s lunchtime again.

Also, the big corporations don’t have that same insurance liability, managing equipment – all of that. We have benefited because we don’t have to dress up every morning to go to work, you know – an hour there – an hour back – rush our kids off somewhere else.

Dotty: So for somebody thinking about becoming self-employed, maybe because of the pandemic, perhaps because they’ve been laid off, or maybe they just want to change. They’ve got some excellent skills, and they want to go ahead and be self-employed. Is there a piece of advice you would give them?

Raksha: Talk it out with somebody who is not a friend or a relative.

Dotty: That is good advice.

Raksha: Go to some networking events. Listen to what other people are doing. There are some fantastic podcasts out there that you can listen to. Listen to your gut. Find out what it’s going to take to run a business. Are you cut out for it?

It’s easy to get frustrated over something and say, “You know what, I’m going to do this for myself, forget about it, I quit.” It’s a different ballgame when you go out there. This is what I meant when I earlier mentioned about people failing because they don’t have the education or the resources or even somebody to guide them on how to run a business. There is much more involved than just putting it out there because you will have to get people to come back. I know people say if you build it, people will come. I haven’t seen that.

Dotty: I haven’t seen it either. I’ve helped a lot of startups with their websites. They do; they have that impression, “I’m going to get a website. And that’s the end of the journey.” It’s just the beginning.

Raksha: Yeah. I am one of those people.

Dotty: Oh, are you?

Raksha: Yeah, I thought I knew what I needed on the website. I thought I knew exactly how to manage it – and this is going a few years back. I soon realized I didn’t. I walked over to the corporate department. In my corporation, we had the IT department. I walked out there, and I had a good relationship with the director. I just sat down. I said, “I have made a blunder. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Luckily, she listened to me. But honestly, it can be fun; it can be good. It is a roller coaster. You want people who will cheer you on, but you also wish those will be honest with you. Who will tell you this isn’t the right time or show you, “If you do this, you can get here quicker.”

The reason I said don’t talk to a family member or a friend is, they already know you; they already have listened to you, and that’s where they’re going to come from; but if you talk to somebody who doesn’t – who knows you, but who isn’t invested in you – you will get a much more honest answer.

Dotty: Yes, sometimes family members hesitate to be honest when needed.

Raksha: Yes.

Dotty: We have about five minutes left. Is there anything else that you would like to leave our audience with?

Raksha: I would say, even if you’re in a business, and you’ve been there for a while. You haven’t made progress you thought you wanted to, or you thought you would have made by now, reach out to a professional: somebody who coaches businesses, somebody who consults companies.  When you speak to them, be honest.

Don’t pretend to be further along than you because they can’t help you.

Dotty: When someone first approaches you, what’s your first step with them?

Raksha: I want to listen to them. I want them to tell me why they approached me because something made them come to me. In that, usually, I can help them because that’s what I’m there for. I’m here to help my clients get where they need to get.

Dotty: Well, we just have a few minutes left. I just want to thank you so much. You have given us so much great advice. One last question from Andrea. She says, “Raksha, who was your ideal client? And what situation would lead you to them?:.”

Raksha: Who is my ideal client? Somebody who’s been in business for five years or less is not seeing the traction they want to see.

What situation would lead me to them? That’s an excellent question. I don’t see problems – I see opportunities. So even if they just need somebody to speak to, I would be there for them if they reached out to me. I would say the situation that I’m in right now is communicating with you in your group, exposing me to other people, letting them know what I do. Honestly, that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to empower entrepreneurs to get to the next level. In their success lies my success.

Dotty: Awesome. Well, you have been an excellent guest to interview. I thank you so much. Stay tuned for next week, we will be interviewing Miss Trish Carr from WPN (Women’s Prosperity Network), and we’re going to find out what her journey was like while she became self-employed. So stay tuned for next week, and thank you so much, Raksha.