Tuesday, March 20, 2018

5 Obstacles I Come Across Frequently As A Fauji Wife Entrepreneur & 1 Solution To Ace It

If you thought setting-up a business, even a micro-business is hard work, multiply that by 10 if she’s a fauji wife trying to nurture a venture on the go. Frequent postings, innumerable house shifts, living out of boxes, erratic net connection, a full load of social commitments and sometimes, interference from certain members of the society that you are part of, can make managing a venture as easy as walking through a storm.

Our suitcase life...

Why am I telling you this? After 12 years of being married to a man in uniform and almost all of those years trying to juggle various micro-businesses and projects, I can safely say I’ve encountered enough hurdles and challenges to fill a book with.

Disclaimer: This is my story and my experiences might be different or similar to yours. None of this is made up or exaggerated (yes, maybe toned down to keep things soothing).

My story as a fauji wife entrepreneur: In this span of time in the services ( a little over 12 years), I’ve launched a writing business, a health coaching practice, a blog, an ongoing creative writing workshop series and am in the midst of building a green wellness project. When I’ve not been working, I’ve studied and got my degrees that’ll add to the work I’m doing or give me options to branch out, if that’s the need of the hour.

Was any of it served to me on a platter? No. On the contrary, this journey to find and do meaningful work while also moving with my husband and attending to the commitments that come with his positions, has been an obstacle race of sorts. And I’m sure most fauji wives face their fair share of hardships to make work work for them.

5 Challenges that fauji wives encounter (garnered from my personal experiences): Some of the common issues that the fauji wife entrepreneur meets head on while setting up her business:

Ah! The good ol' days & the Dark Ages ;-)

1. Social Pressure: I don’t think this happens as much these days, but 12 years ago as a new fauji wife working-from-home, social objections and the pressure to quit were the biggest challenges I encountered. “When you’re married to a fauji, only the man gets to have a career”, and “concentrate on enhancing your husband’s career, not your own”were the mandates that I heard all the time (and this is just the tip of the ice-berg). Judgment and criticism were very much part of my days, more so because working-from-home was still very new where we were, entrepreneurship unheard of and acceptance of a new way of living/working took its own sweet time. While other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter much, when you live in a tightly-knit, hierarchy-conscious community, social pressure takes on a whole new level.

Work & Life balance gets a whole new meaning

2. Social Commitments: This is the basic fabric of fauji life. It’s just not the glittering parties, but also a plethora of welfare meets and events that each fauji wife is expected to be enthusiastically part of. While there is a reason for the events – bonding with each other, one needs to dedicate a large chunk of time to them. So, that means every fauji wife must become an expert at time management, juggling family, chores, social commitments and her business requirements with elan. Sometimes our work deadlines may also clash with important social events, and it’s all about working around things. A tango that you learn early on, if you want to enjoy both, your work and the social part of the services (Ah! I’m still clumsy at this particular tango ;-)).

Fast internet - is there such a thing? ;-)

3. Erratic Internet Connection: We’re often posted at back-of-beyond places with non-existent or erratic internet connection. With most ventures being built/marketed through the internet, a tacky net connection can eat into your time, efforts and put you in a tough position with clients sometimes. It also takes ages to finally get the internet installed at your home and a strong 4G signal is almost unheard of within bases.

In the recent past at a base that we were stationed at, I spent almost six months with the spottiest internet connection, with bursts of 5-minute functional net sprinkled through the day. At another station few years ago, we waited and followed up, and waited for three months before getting an internet connection, which meant a hiatus from work till then.

Life-in-a-box

4. Frequent Postings: Most fauji families move every few years, if not more, packing up their entire household into black ‘trunks’. And that means that the fauji wife entrepreneur has to shut shop for a while or scale down operations till they not only reach the new base, but also get a house allotted and white-washed, and the net connected. I remember a time, when we were out on a temporary detachment for more than 1.5 years, and living out of suitcases. My ‘office’ was a makeshift table – the only table in the two-room set that we shared with another officer.

Make the most of now

5. Constant Adjustment: Adjustment is the key to living. But as a fauji wife you learn to adjust and re-invent your business again and again. If your husband holds a portfolio, where you are expected to give a certain amount of time to the station activities, then that’ll involve tweaking your ambitions and business, and tailoring it to the need of the hour.

Another scenario we often face is deployment. 


If your husband gets deployed at the border and you’re left single-parenting the kids (while also worrying about your spouse), then that changes the amount of time or effort you can give to your venture. 

Or maybe, your unit ladies have to host a major event in a particular month (like the famous Ladies Club or Husband’s Night Gala), which will again change the time commitment to your work. A certain amount of flexibility and innovation are the keys to being and staying an entrepreneur in the fauji setup. And hey, flexibility is easier said that done J.

1 Way to Ace it: Being a fauji wife entrepreneur isn’t piece of cake. To all that hard work, you also need to add dollops of innovation, adjustment, the willingness to make work work for you and the grace to accept that you are doing what you can do. Your spouse’s support and your own little cheer-you-on team (mine consists of my husband, parents and a few friends) can help you loads while dealing with the curveballs that come your way.


"We can do it" - a resolve that every fauji wife entrepreneur needs to have in heaps

At the end of the day, if your venture/brand/business/project brings you pleasure, heaps of contentment and the well-earned pride of being a fauji wife entrepreneur, then you’re on the right track.

An announcement: We’re starting a new series on this blog called ‘The Brigade that Builds Brands’, where we’ll feature fauji wife entrepreneurs and creatives, every other Tuesday or Wednesday. Do stay tuned for this fun new section. And if you’d like to be part of the series, then leave a comment below or connect with us via our Facebook page.

I also invite you to check out my new wellness project for women at Gorgeous Girls Go Green.

And if you’re a green gal yourself, join the conversation at our FB Community, Lush Green Wellness.

See ya around :-).

#greenliving #faujiwifediaries #faujiwifeentrepreneur #entrepreneur


3 comments:

  1. Well written Chandana. Even though retired many years ago, I could 'feel' every bit of it while my wife became an entrepreneur! Keep writing.

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  2. It is quite a reveal that not only men in uniform are compromising their normal life for the citizens, their whole family is adjusting to it ! It is the herculean effort of the wives and children of the armed men that shows everything is possible in this not so friendly world, which sometimes become a hurdle for any venture that they want to pursue. All the best for 'The Brigade that Builds Brands' as well as the new project :) .

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