Built for Life: How a Resort Owner Started her Own Business from Scratch

If you happen to be starting your own business and need inspiration, be sure to travel to Munnar. For, this is where Kochi-based woman entrepreneur Asha Suresh runs her holiday resort business. The Director of Misty Mountain Resort, Asha believes firmly in "living on top of the world to the fullest". She is a marketing management graduate, and oversees the administration and finance departments of her company. HerMoneyTalks correspondent Karthika Prajoth sat down this week for a tete-a-tete with Asha.


Success comes to you when you believe in yourself. And get your monetary decisions right. Asha, who decided to become an entrepreneur out of passion, began to express her views on money management with a bright smile. “A safe future is all we need in life, and to achieve that, we should learn to use our money efficiently,” says she.


A solid foundation for an entrepreneurial dream


Her father and mother inspired her in her younger years, as she grew up watching them working from home. Asha's father was a renowned architect in Fort Kochi, and they had an office on the first floor of their house. Her parents lent her the vision of being the master of her own space and this ignited in her her entrepreneur zeal.


With the support of her husband Suresh, a civil engineer and a certified valuer and consultant, Asha began a construction business in 1990 on her own risk. According to her, the choices one makes in life decides their future. Asha intelligently chose the construction field by bridging the her father's creative faculties with her husband's practical skills.


Also, she completed a diploma course in interior designing and pioneered the development of high rise buildings in Kochi. Asha and Suresh initiated their dream venture Asra Builders with ardent coordination and perseverance. Starting your own business couldn't have had a better beginning!


Starting your own business: Exhilaration or exasperation?


Financial challenges uprooted their hopes in the initial stages. However, the couple's togetherness helped them tackle all adversities. The past good will of their company and Asha’s persuasion power helped here. Being a civil engineer, Suresh was more interested in the technical and project management areas. Meanwhile, Asha helmed the sole duty of managing the finances and administration of their family venture.


Only 50% of money is granted to us. I think money lenders expect a lower success rate when women enter business.


Asha recounts how she learnt the software 'Tally' to manage their money expertly. To her husband's delight, she turned out to be a specialist in making financial decisions, raising their profit levels. Being a state rank holder throughout her college years, Asha cemented her marketing and management skills together to make it work.


“Later when we entered into hospitality business, we took major loans from State Bank of India to meet our needs,” confides Asha. While KSFE helped her in managing their construction demands, lenders demanded more collateral. Convincing them to grant money was the toughest financial challenge Asha experienced as a business woman.


“Only 50% of money is granted to us. I think money lenders expect a lower success rate when women enter business,” rues Asha.


When the ground shook beneath her feet


The other obstacles that hindered her journey were on grounds of the area in which their resort was located. The demolition of large buildings under government order, in a way, affected the rise of their resort in Munnar. Bankers were doubtful of investing money with them. It was a nerve wracking period for Asha, as self doubt began to creep in and she was forced to rethink her plans.


I believe women are well equipped in life. They know what they really need and go after it with courage.


Unable to find a hospitality partner, Asha courageously decided to run it by themselves. Her accurate decision at a time of crisis paved the way for their business to flourish. While construction was her forte, hospitality brought her to an altogether different dimension of business dealings.


Asha groomed a team of vibrant employees and focused on customer services to maintain stability and success. Apart from the basic salaries, she also instituted incentive schemes based on the sales income of the resort. Consequently, this brought smiles not only to her employees' faces, but also on her customers' faces.


The financial secret sauce for women


“I believe women are well equipped in life. They know what they really need and go after it with courage,” adds Asha. According to her, when women take charge of their financial well-being, the world becomes safe and happy.


Her money hacks include distribution of wealth in various products, avoiding splurging on unnecessary needs, and focusing on safe investments like fixed deposits.


If you are starting your own business, Asha has some sage words of wisdom for you. She advises all women entrepreneurs to:


(1) Learn accounting hacks from experts.


(2) Check balance sheets and profit and loss statements regularly.


(3) Become tech savvy by updating computer skills.


(4) Plan budget according to profit.


(5) Opt for nationalized banks over private Banks for taking loans.


Urging all women entrepreneurs to never shy away struggling for their needs, Asha signed off from the conversation with an overwhelming smile. Hers is a story that would resonate across women from all cross sections of life.