By | Sandhya | www.jobsforher.com
Welcome to an exclusive interview with the mastermind behind Alt Homes – Aditi Chordia. An entrepreneur with a passion for innovation and a relentless drive for success, Aditi has taken the world of real estate by storm.
We are excited to delve into her journey and discover the secrets behind her remarkable success in turning Alt Homes into a thriving enterprise, as well as discuss everything about entrepreneurship.
What inspired you to start Alt Homes, and how did you get started in your field? Can you share any challenges or lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Alt Homes was born out of a dining table discussion with my father. He was struggling to maintain our vacation home in Uttarakhand and requested my help with it. That’s when my partner and I realised the untapped potential of homestays and the value they could bring to both guests and hosts. My love and penchant for hosting just got channelled into something bigger and better, which is now Alt Homes!
There were various challenges along the way, like building a reliable team of problem solvers, handling crises at our properties remotely, stakeholder management, navigating through the travel trends around our areas of operations, striking the right balance for pricing, and so on.
One of the biggest takeaways from the journey has been the importance of effective communication and the art of adaptability and constant learning. These experiential lessons have been instrumental in shaping Alt Homes into what it is today.
How do you approach identifying and validating a business idea, and what are some key factors to consider when evaluating a new venture? Can you share any tips for conducting market research and testing a new idea?
For me, the biggest indicator of a viable business is whether there is a pressing problem that the business is addressing. For instance, Alt Homes has a two-pronged approach to problem solving: we cater to travellers who require fully serviced boutique homestays with the luxury of privacy, plus we address the maintenance-related pain points of second homeowners while providing them with additional revenue from this erstwhile unutilized asset.
If you ask me, the best way to begin market research is to Identify your potential target group, competition, and industry trends. The most crucial components to test are the viability, scalability, and sustainability of the business, and that can only be done by regularly interacting with all stakeholders, keeping the feedback loop open, and constant innovation.
How important are networking and building relationships in entrepreneurship, and what are some best practices to keep in mind? Can you share any tips for building a professional network?
I sincerely believe that relationships are EVERYTHING in business. Processes, SOPs, contracts, and policies are all important pieces of the puzzle, but the associations one forms with people and the trust that is built as a result constitute the core of any successful venture. That is what can make or break your initiative.
I would definitely recommend engaging in conferences, attending seminars and workshops, taking advantage of networking opportunities, and joining networking forums. It helps you open doors to partnerships, referrals, mentorship opportunities, and access to valuable resources. The idea is to be outgoing, genuine, fearless, accountable, and robustly communicative; then the networking world is your oyster!
How do you approach creating a business plan, and what should be included in a comprehensive plan? Can you share any tools or resources that can help with business planning?
An effective business plan must be robust, exhaustive, foresighted, and realistic. The best way to approach this step in your entrepreneurial journey is to always ask “Why?” and “So what?”.
Once you have solid answers to these questions, you will have the recipe for a comprehensive business plan. A company profile, market analysis, competitor analysis, strategies and goals for marketing, sales, and business development, the structure of your organization, a road map for growth, financial projections, and a solid implementation plan are some of the things one must include in a business plan.
While there are many books and resources available for this, Daily Coffee and Startup Fundraising by Sarthak Ahuja can be a good start. It may also be a good idea to explore new AI tools for this as well.
How important are market positioning and branding in entrepreneurship, and how can organizations differentiate themselves from competitors? Can you share any examples of successful branding strategies?
Alt Homes is a fairly young venture, and we are just getting into the process of mastering the marketing space. However, in this little while where we have taken on marketing and branding aggressively, I have realized that what sets you apart is not just your USP but also how you project that USP to a relevant audience.
Developing a compelling brand story and communicating it consistently through various channels is key. Visual branding and design, unique brand colors, a catchy and aesthetic logo, a well-made website, and client testimonials are some of the ways one can set their business apart, aside from top-quality delivery of services and experiences.
How can entrepreneurs effectively manage their finances and budget for the early stages of a business, including bootstrapping? Can you share any tips for financial planning and management?
Managing finances is a tricky balance in entrepreneurship. If you’re a bootstrapped enterprise like us, it often gets confusing whether one should think long-term and spend freely as an investment or be judicious and have a cost-saving approach.
I think it is good to first start by creating a realistic budget that covers all expenses and accounts for unforeseen circumstances. Monitoring cash flow regularly and keeping track of income and expenses is crucial. What has helped Alt Homes is having access to expert advice from financial professionals and mentors, accountants, business strategy advisors, and so on.
How important is a strong team in entrepreneurship, and how can organizations build a diverse and effective team? Can you share any tips for hiring and managing employees?
People and teams are invaluable to any enterprise, but especially for people like us in the hospitality and service industries, they form the backbone of our operations! The idea is to always look for individuals who complement the existing skills in the organisation and bring diverse and novel perspectives to the table.
Hiring based on shared values, passion, and expertise has worked wonders for Alt Homes. With regard to managing teams, fostering a positive work culture from scratch and encouraging (even rewarding) open communication are important.
While regularly reviewing team performance is a good practice to ensure accountability, a happy team is always one that isn’t micromanaged. Hire experts, delegate responsibilities, trust the process, and let them do their job! As founders or managers of a team, your role must only be that of a listener and problem solver.
How do you approach building a customer base and generating revenue for a new business? Can you share any tips for customer acquisition and retention?
Building a customer base and generating revenue for a new business requires a well-defined marketing strategy. Identify your target audience and constantly tailor your marketing efforts to reach them effectively. Simultaneously, strengthen your sales processes to be able to effectively convert your marketing leads.
Utilizing various channels, including social media, influencer marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email and WhatsApp marketing, and paid advertising, can all be helpful. Specifically for Alt Homes, what we envision working best for customer acquisition and retention is building a community of our own that comprises both guests and homeowners, who would have access to special perks and advantages by virtue of being a part of the Alt Homes community.
Brand loyalists are only built through consistent communication, value addition, and a feeling of belonging to a community.
How can entrepreneurs use digital marketing and social media to support their businesses, and what are some best practices to keep in mind? Can you share any examples of successful digital marketing campaigns?
Social media is a very powerful tool. Ever since we have focused our resources and bandwidth on digital marketing, our growth has been significant. When you provide value to potential customers through engaging content, you’re able to build an aspirational value around the brand, thereby creating avenues for more sales.
Moreover, your experiments with digital marketing give you a reality check time and again in terms of who your actual target audience is instead of the assumed target audience, and that helps you course correct in time.
How can entrepreneurs effectively pitch their businesses to investors, customers, and partners, and what are some common mistakes to avoid? Can you share any tips for effective pitching and public speaking?
Effective pitching is crucial when presenting your business to investors, customers, and partners. The first step is to clearly define your value proposition and understand your audience’s needs and interests.
Then, craft a compelling and concise pitch that highlights the unique aspects of your business and how it addresses the concerns of the person you’re talking to. Try not to be repetitive and vague. Practice your pitch extensively, use visual aids, avoid jargon, and focus on storytelling to be emotionally engaging.
Lastly, talk passionately! Nothing convinces a person more about your conviction to achieve something and the value you are proposing than your own belief in your product or service. Be passionate, especially while pitching.
How can entrepreneurs leverage data and analytics to make better business decisions and measure success? Can you share any tips for data analysis and reporting?
Data and analytics are powerful tools for making informed business decisions and measuring success. Utilize data tracking tools, such as Google Analytics, to collect and analyze relevant data. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business goals and regularly evaluate your performance against these metrics.
Use data to identify trends, understand customer behavior, and make data-driven decisions. Invest in data analysis and reporting resources, such as Excel or business intelligence software, to effectively analyze and visualize data for actionable insights.
How important is a focus on innovation and continuous improvement in entrepreneurship, and how can organizations stay nimble and adapt to changing market conditions? Can you share any examples of successful innovation strategies?
In entrepreneurship, a focus on innovation and continuous improvement is imperative for survival! The pandemic has taught many lessons in innovation. It is essential for staying competitive and adapting to changing market conditions. Stay updated on industry trends and emerging technologies. Implement processes for collecting and evaluating feedback to drive improvements.
Successful companies like Tesla and Apple consistently innovate by challenging traditional norms and delivering groundbreaking solutions to customer needs.
How do you approach risk management and contingency planning as an entrepreneur, and what are some key factors to consider when evaluating potential risks? Can you share any tips for risk assessment and mitigation?
An entrepreneur is as prepared as their worst-case scenario strategy. Risk management and contingency planning are critical aspects of entrepreneurship. Market changes, legal or regulatory updates, industry trends, operational challenges, and other developments are all aspects to keep up with. While assessing a risk, it’s also important to assess the likelihood and potential impact of the risk on your business.
Develop contingency plans that outline strategies for mitigating or responding to risks effectively. Regularly review and update your risk management plan as your business evolves. Seek help from lawyers or insurance experts to ensure a comprehensive risk assessment and adequate protection for your business.
Lastly, acknowledge that one can’t have a plan for every challenge. Learn to take things in stride, act on mitigating risks, and move forward and onward.
How can entrepreneurs stay motivated and resilient during difficult times, such as economic downturns or setbacks in business? Can you share any tips for maintaining mental and emotional health as an entrepreneur?
Like I mentioned in the previous answer, it is impossible to foresee every risk and difficulty. Hence, you may not always be prepared to handle adversity. It is times like this when your grit and perseverance truly get tested. During setbacks like this, it’s important to embrace failures as learning opportunities and make yourself aware of the bigger vision and the larger goal.
Secondly, striking a work-life balance is key! There may be successful tycoons who work 20 hours a day, but if you wish to be a successful and, more importantly, sustainable business person with a wholesome lifestyle, you must focus on physical and emotional health equally.
Lastly, surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors, peers, family, and like-minded individuals who can provide guidance and encouragement when the chips are down. A positive and never-say-die attitude is an essential trait in an entrepreneur, and it can very well be developed over time with practice!
How important are mentorship and coaching in entrepreneurship, and how can organizations find and work with mentors? Can you share any tips for mentorship and coaching relationships?
A mentor is someone who will not only give you wings to fly but also teach you how to get right back up after a fall and try again until the sky is yours! Like in any sport, a coach can help you build the base and core of your journey.
Seek out mentors who have experience in your industry or possess the skills you want to develop. Join entrepreneurial communities or organizations that offer mentorship programs. Look around in your own circle and reach out to family and friends who have built enterprises from scratch to learn from their experiences and mistakes.
Be proactive in seeking feedback and advice from your mentors. However, also remember that the journey is only yours and yours alone! A good mentor will never give the same advice to everyone. So take in and absorb what suits your situation the best, and trust your gut.