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2012-11-12 00:00:00QuickBooks Business of the WeekEnglish Lightin’Up

Featuring Lightin’Up

3 min read

Founder and Creative Designer at Lightin’Up in her non-office hours and Product Manager at a corporate conglomerate during scheduled hours – Smita Ramani dons many caps.
And with aplomb. While admitting that juggling a full-time corporate job and her business venture ‘is not easy’ and demands a lot from her, she is currently not prepared to quit her well-paying job and enter the world of entrepreneurship whole hog.
A practical approach for most beginners who want to stick out their neck, test the waters, settle in somewhat before taking the famed entrepreneurial plunge.

Smita set up Lightin’Up in 2012 with operational investments to start with that was used to procure raw materials needed for her products. But with more and more people getting to know about the creative lighting options Lightin’Up offers and with bulk orders coming in, Smita has already embarked on to putting a plan to scale-up.

In a candid interview, Smita told us what got her started (in fact, emphasized that ‘starting is the hardest thing to do’ after which things seem to fall in place) and how she plans to surge ahead with Lightin’Up

What made you start your venture?

Personalizing gifts for friends and family has always been a passion for me. A personalized gift is unforgettable and gives that warm feeling that no store-bought gift can. That is how the philosophy of Lightin’Up came into being and slowly I started receiving custom orders as well and requests for my designs.

What has been the key to your business’s early success?

I feel the individuality of the product you offer to a customer is the most important factor. The USP of each creation from Lightin’Up Studio is that it is unique and handmade which makes it perfect as a gift, a utility item or as a perfect décor for that nook in your home.

The second factor is customer satisfaction. Understanding the preferences of the customer and then molding our product to suit him/her is important. This “personalization” of the product helps us build a relationship with the customer.

What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?

The first step was the hardest – The point when you decide that you are going to take something you do as a hobby/interest and pursue it as a business venture. A lot of research, time & effort did go into the entire preparation process, right from deciding what paints to use, to the best method for lighting, to managing the costs, to the best mode of promotion as we are a small unit.

In fact the learning is an on-going process. Another challenge I face on a daily basis, but also the most enjoyable, is the process of deciding unique designs for each Lightin’Up creation. This is where pure passion drives you. In the end seeing a smile on a customer’s face when you finally deliver his customized product is a big motivation.

Do you have a mentor who guides/ advices you on matters of the business?

My family & friends have been a big support to me and have continued to guide me along the way. I also did a lot of research and reading up and speaking to other professionals who have set up small successful business; this has been very helpful and motivating.

Have you benefited from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?

Primarily Social Media for sales and marketing

What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?

I believe word-of-mouth is best and most reliable form of promotion. Hence at Lightin’Up, the aim is to make each creation a memorable one for our customer. We keep the customer involved during the entire making process as well, to ensure the design is in-line with their expectation. • Reach out to a wider customer base by showcasing at different events around the city. We are venturing into custom designs for establishments like restaurants, salons, private businesses etc. • We are also expanding our product line.

What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

• Passion: The most important factor that pushes you over every hurdle.

• Open Minded: you have to be willing to learn, accept criticism and evolve your plan at every step.

• Marketing: Not the book learned marketing but the one that comes through experience. You have to be able to know your strengths, believe in them and also sell them to make it a success.

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Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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