Wednesday 3 June, 2020

Owning a biz on your 2019 to do list? Research first says career coach

Shelly-Ann Gajadhar, founder of career consultancy Alphastute

Shelly-Ann Gajadhar, founder of career consultancy Alphastute

Soon it will be a new year and for many people, a new year brings with it the opportunity for new beginnings especially in their careers.

For many, entrepreneurship, with its promise of financial freedom and flexibility, may be the new goal.

But before you print out those business cards, do you know if there is a market for what you are offering?

Shelly-Ann Gajadhar, an attorney and founder of Alphastute, a career consultancy, said while many people have great ideas, they fail to do any market research.

“Forbes had an excellent article that talked about the biggest failures of entrepreneurship and it is that they do not do enough research, they do not do enough. They get caught up in the passion, the ideas, the intricacies of what they think they can do and the potential behind it but they create products not for the public but for themselves and when they don’t sell they wonder why,” she said.

Gajadhar said at Alphastute, research is a pivotal pillar of everything they do.

A company Gajadhar built in the United Kingdom to create, equip and build leaders of tomorrow, Alphastute works with aspiring entrepreneurs, leaders, risk-takers and innovators and those wishing to kick-start their professional careers.

Gajadhar knows a thing or two about transitioning from one career to the next.

A former State Prosecutor in Trinidad and Tobago who worked under the late Dana Seetahal, Gajadhar moved from law to business, graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 2015 with a Distinction in International Business and Emerging Markets. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at King’s College in London where she teaches courses related to Organisational Research Methods and International Business. At the college, she sits on several committees and works as an Application Advisor with the Careers and Employability arm of the College, providing CV and job placement advice to postgraduate students and researchers.

Alphastute, she said, was inspired by her job advising students.

“The opportunity came for me to explain to persons back home about what are the options available to them because I was coming from a very knowledge intensive environment and also based on my own experience of spring-boarding from law into business, I had a lot of questions about how I was able to do that,” she said.

She said she always served the Caribbean in an informal capacity through Skype appointments and last Carnival when she visited home she decided to establish her business.

“I had about close to 60 clients waiting,” she said. “When I saw that demand I knew that people wanted my service. The clients all knew what they wanted to do, it wasn’t like I was interacting with clients who are confused. What I found most prevalent in client cases was transitioning and thinking outside the box, thinking about an option B, no longer wanting to work for someone else. There was an entrepreneurial spirit that was very evident but there isn’t an enabling environment, no one to turn to. It brought up a lot of issues. It was really about how we foster this bubble of entrepreneurship in what we are doing,” she said.

Gajadhar is a fan of entrepreneurship and believes that it is something that can be developed.

‘It’s something that can be harnessed and fostered and that is why there are things like incubator hubs, vocational academies, mentorship and apprenticeship programmes that encourage and equip young people with skills to be an entrepreneur,” she explained.

She said, however, it comes down to market demand and research, getting out into the field, conducting surveys, asking questions and testing product.

She said with Alphastute, once a client undergoes consultation and she can assist and have the resources and personnel to conduct the research, it will be done and coaching provided along the way.

“Timelines are important. A client can get caught up in that research phase. One of the things I realise working with Trinidadian clients is that they don’t know how to conduct research efficiently and concisely. It is because resources and access to data are uncertain,” she said.

Using her own life as an example, Gajadhar said leaving a steady paycheck to jump into entrepreneurship is daunting. She said in her case, walking away from law after five years was scary.

“I couldn’t explain what was happening to me to friends and family. It comes from a very deep, internal place, of finding who you are, what is the contribution you are going to make to this world. It is not about making money or who said what is the best job for you. What really drives you?  It is a very difficult place but once you have the right guidance you are unstoppable,” she said.

To contact Alphastute visit www. or go to alphastute on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. They also offer WhatsApp conversations at +44 7926 973822.


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