Priya Florence Shah is the Founder and CEO of Blog Brandz, a Digital Marketing Agency in Pune. She is also a former journalist and publisher of Naaree.com, an online portal that aims to help the new Indian woman break free of limitations.
Q. Tell us about yourself, your background, entrepreneurial journey and what were some of the struggles you had to face in the initial months/years?
I’m a former journalist who first started publishing content online in 2001 after my baby was born. I created an award-winning environmental website called Making India Green and went on to develop expertise in SEO, blogging, and social media.
In 2006, I partnered with an SEO expert to start a company called SEO & More. However, that business did not work out, as we both had different visions of how we wanted to grow. I went on to focus on creating content for my website, blogs and publishing online magazines, like Naaree.com.
In 2014, after moving to Pune, I started Blog Brandz and began to offer content marketing, blogging, and social media services to clients. My clients include Fortune 500 companies, local businesses (such as resorts and restaurants), SMEs, and individuals who want to expand their visibility and personal brand online.
Q. What was the inspiration behind Naaree.com?
In 2005, my husband passed away suddenly after 12 years of our marriage. Although I had my online business, I was still very dependent on him for everything, from emotional support to managing our finances.
Naaree.com was born out of the realization that there are a lot of women like me who need advice and support to move on from difficult circumstances and learn to become independent.
Q. In your journey so far, has there ever been a time where you have felt like giving up? And if you could recount the instance for our readers.
There was a time in my life when I had serious health issues and wasn’t sure if I would survive long. That was the closest I came to possibly quitting.
But I’m not a quitter. I survived, recovered my health and realized that a lot of my health issues had to do with my emotional well-being.
I went on to write and self-publish a couple of books on how to become emotionally stronger and more resilient, using the lessons I learned during those difficult years.
Q. An incident that has become a lesson and can inspire our readers, majority of whom are young aspirants.
I have learned many lessons over the years, all from different situations in my life.
Here are some of them:
- Never get into a relationship – either a business relationship or a romantic one – when you are grieving. My biggest life lessons came from making this mistake.
- As a woman and mother, learn to put your own well-being first. If you cannot take care of yourself, physically and emotionally, you can’t take care of anyone else either.
- Don’t be dependent on others financially. You need to have your own source of income, even if you come from a rich family.
- If you have an education and some initiative, work from home or start a business (like I did). If you’re independent, you will not feel the need to tolerate abuse or disrespect from anyone.
Q. In your difficult phases, what keeps you motivated/what makes you hold on?
My child. Being a mother is the biggest sense of purpose I can ever have. The meaning it brings to my life is beyond measure.
Q. As a young leader what makes you passionate about entrepreneurship?
I’m not young, but I’m passionate about entrepreneurship for women of all ages. Mostly because it creates financial independence, self-respect, self-confidence, and a sense of purpose.
It also allows us to give something back to the world. Whether you’re 16 or 60, you can start a business from the comfort of your home and become an entrepreneur.
Q. How did you manage to keep up with the stress of business as well as juggle parenthood?
- I’m luckier than most women I know because I made a conscious choice to work from home. I don’t have any fixed hours. I prefer working at night when it’s quiet and deal with the tasks of daily living during the day.
My child is grown up, so I’m needed in more of a supervisory capacity now. If I do find myself getting anxious about something, I remember what one of my teachers says – it’s not the stressor, but how we respond to it that really matters.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My Dad. Despite having a difficult life, he still managed to be a loving, caring and a nurturing parent.
Q. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Since my profession – blogger and social media marketer – did not even exist till a few years ago, that question is moot.
But since you asked, it got me thinking. Had I known what I know now, I would have done a double graduation taking English Literature (for the sheer love of language) as my major and Science as well.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
- Take a part-time job in a coffee shop to learn customer service.
- Volunteer with a charity and get some real-world experience.
- Get online and create a presence for yourself on LinkedIn and Twitter.