I can feel overwhelmed and empty in the same breath. I feel neurotic, and I am a recovering awkward person like many others. The difference is that unlike them, I have taken all this in my stride and I talk about it shamelessly. My name is Shreya Dhingra, I am an Executive Image Coach, Body Language Trainer and a Corporate Behaviour Researcher at Your Image and I, my own Image Management Consultancy.
If the life of an entrepreneur is hard, then a solopreneur’s life is brutally hard. Add to that, a new city, new culture and new rules of the game, it can be truly cruel. But then, as they say, in the end, all’s worth it if you love what you do.
As a rebellious employee, I stuck with no company for more than a year after getting my management degree. My bosses must have deplored me no end. I was so restless doing jobs I didn’t relate to, that I crashed into a business opportunity in 2011. With absolutely no sense of running a business, no background or a definite urge of being a consultant, and with an admittedly lost state of mind, I got myself into Coaching & Training. I started this in Delhi in 2011 as I was born and brought up there, but eventually moved to Bangalore after getting married.
Today, it has been more than four years that I have been an Executive Image Coach, and I can easily say that there is no single institute, academy, organisation or a formal body that can teach you how to be a coach or a trainer. It has to come from within, for it’s all about the right balance of empathy and emotional intelligence.
So, my first challenge as a solopreneur was to dingle dangle my way towards stability. Stability of all sorts – right from understanding my own strengths, my preferred client profiles, to identifying my areas of expertise.
My second challenge was and is my subject itself. When I started learning about Body Language and Image Management, I was shocked out of my gut that a subject so crucial to our daily lives, is in fact never formally taught to us during childhood. Not in school, largely not by parents and certainly not in college. The only little mention of it happens when we are looking out for jobs and need to prepare for interviews. By then, it is terribly late. Image Management like any other core subject has to be taught in a structured manner. A base has to be formed before anything else.
Unfortunately, grooming schools and personality development institutes attempt to teach behaviour, etiquette, body language and grooming, without laying any concrete foundation for participants. The trainers themselves linger on with partial knowledge and complete lack of applicative abilities.
The participants who complete these courses, lose all the value of what they have learnt in no time. They are clueless how to apply the acquired skills in their daily lives. They feel more lost and flustered than they were before doing the course. I can state this confidently because I myself have undertaken few personality development classes in the past.
My third ‘supposed’ challenge of being a solopreneur in my new city Bangalore, didn’t actually seem so difficult. I have a huge advantage of being a gifted Image Coach. I don’t judge my clients on the basis of their culture, language and education. The only time I judge them is when they trouble clearing my payment. But those, fortunately, are rare cases.
Choosing to be an Executive Image Coach is the biggest gift I could have ever given myself. I coach people older than me all the time. At times my clients are literally double my age. But fortunately, that is not even a remote challenge for me because the ability to transform, convince and polish others, does not, in fact, have much to do with age, as opposed to popular belief.
On the whole, being on my own is a great feeling. But freedom seldom comes easy. It is a lot easier to be disciplined in a structured environment where the bosses are watching you all the time. The real character comes out when no one is around to shadow you. I mean what’s worse having someone to scream at you when you’re not doing your job or not having anyone at all, and not realising till you’ve messed it all up?
Currently, I am into free style learning and research, besides acquiring formal e-certifications from foreign universities. Along with this, I coach and train professionals, business owners, start-ups, public sectors, free lancers, teachers and trainers, through individual consulting and corporate workshops.
On the whole, having start-up is at once exciting, exhilarating, unpredictable, crazy, and at times deeply disappointing. But if there’s one thing I could tell you about my start-up and solopreneurship experience with utmost certainty, it would be that despite all the hardships, I can never even dream of working for someone else again. For, as writer says, “People who are frightened to be themselves work for those who are unafraid”.
Founder and Lead Coach- Your Image and I
Image Source: The Viewspaper