by Jaylaxmi Desai
“If you can develop something for others then you can definitely develop something for yourself.” Quoting her husband, Sabiha R. Hirani, said that it was his encouragement and constant support that helped her build the Omega Offset printing press in Belagavi. She was born and brought up in Belagavi. Her fearless and hardworking nature has enabled her to survive and run the printing business of Belagavi successfully for 16 years. She was awarded as the, “Best Woman Entrepreneur” in the year 2001 by Rotary Club of Belagavi for her accomplishments.
Excerpts from the Interview:
- What is the history behind Omega Printers?
Before starting Omega printing press, I had worked for 13 years in Impressions. I had worked in all the spheres of business be it accounts, technical or product and this experience was my solid foundation. With this experience and my husband’s encouragement I started planning and preparing for it. I partnered with Mr. Joglekar, who was my ex-colleague at Impressions and as he already had a small press called, Omega we worked towards expanding the business. As a women entrepreneur, I was granted KFC loan at a very low interest. The then DGP Mr. Chandrashker, supported me immensely in the process of buying big machines and with that we started Omega Offset on a Guddipadvi day, April 7th in the year 2000. In the same year, we started production of textbooks and in the year 2004, we dissolved the partnership agreement. Soon after which I continued the business in partnership with my husband.
- What are the services you offer?
We offered A to Z printing services. You name it and we have it – from brochures, bills, books to newspaper, wedding cards, notebooks and legal document and letter heads. Presently, we are printing 4 newspapers and also doing textbook printing of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- How many workers are working in your organization and what are the benefits that you provide them?
Currently, there are 38 workers working with us and we have provided them with all the employee benefits like PF, ESI, gratuity, bonus and insurance.
- How do you handle employee conflicts and challenging situations?
It is very important to be there with them and counsel them time to time. They need someone to hear their problems and counsel them and guide them in handling the situation. So, I have always ensured that and provided them guidance whenever there has been any conflicts. I work towards building that personal level connection with them because sometimes people don’t even know who is working for them, building that one-to-one rapport is very important.
- What are the obstacles that you faced as an, “Women Entrepreneur”?
Yes, I have faced obstacles while starting Omega, as some people didn’t want me to start a printing press. In fact there were situations where they tried to cause problems in breaking the license of the press. But somehow I feel that, there is always a supreme power an almighty who helps us in facing and overcoming all the hurdles in life. I feel, it’s that driving force that has supported me to clear all the hurdles. People normally like to attribute everything to themselves but I would like to attribute it to that driving force.
She says, “It’s my absolute belief that he helps those who help themselves”.
- What role has digitalization played in your business? Has it affected the demand?
Yes, digitalization plays a very important role but it has not affected our business as we have stayed updated. We have to incorporate it into our business to sustain the market’s demands. We cannot be in the business using old traditional methods and machines, we need to upgrade and we have upgraded. Also, our major business is into texting printing and as far now digitalization has not affected it at all. Maybe, in the future, e-books might replace textbooks but for a country like India I think to introduce such concept it will take a lot of time. Products like textbooks even brochures, posters, question banks and calendars are still in demand. But of course digitalization has taken away our short run jobs but it hasn’t taken away all the jobs.
- What is your future goal for Omega? Are you thinking of diversifying to packaging?
Packaging is becoming the next big thing in the market but our business is completely different from that sector, so we would not consider diversifying into it. But maybe, we could have considered it if we had a successor for our business. That’s the reason I want to concentrate on printing and then maybe retire.
- Through your experience what advice can you give to women entrepreneurs?
Firstly, I think, it is very important to follow all the government norms and legal procedures. I have been faced with government authorities who come for regular checks and hence, I have always maintained proper legal documents and followed all the procedures. I have never faced any problem. It’s very important to follow all the legalities and do not overlook any legal procedure. Secondly, do not engage in unhealthy competition because that will only ruin your business, remain strong on your quality and services. Because people today, are very quality and service conscious, so serve the people what they need.
- According to you, what are the attributes an entrepreneur should have or work towards building them?
The two most vital attribute that can lead an entrepreneur to the road of success is “Focus and Hard work”. For instance, yesterday I got a call from a dealer at 11:30 pm and he was telling about the shortage of paper and I remained in touch with him to resolve the matter. And, the next day he calls me and says, “I am amazed at the focus that you have, even at the midnight time.” So, one has to be very focused towards their business and work beyond fixed timings. Another essential attribute is planning, I plan every day in the morning as I note down my tasks for the day to be accomplished as this bring in clarity.
- When was the time when you experienced an “aha-moment” wherein, you were very satisfied about your work?
Well, there have been many such moments, I would like to narrate one such incident. I have always been very protective of my workers and one day one of my worker had met with an accident and was in a crucial state, we rushed him to the hospital and I donated my blood to save his life for me that was the most satisfying moment of my life. That day I felt, god has made me worthy of being helpful to another person which was very satisfying. We were able to save him and recover him completely although he lost fingers in his one hand but he survived. And he is still working with me from 2000 that’s because we motivated him to become independent.
- If not Omega, what else would you have chosen to do?
Basically, my interest lies in medicine I wanted to become a doctor but I had a phobia towards dead bodies that’s the reason I didn’t choose that career path. Even now I can identify very easily when any of my worker is not feeling well and I personally do the first aid nursing to my workers because I am passionate about it.
- How do you spend your leisure time?
I love to relax myself and turn on music and enjoy it. I love listening to old songs and I also enjoy cooking and stitching. And on my usual Sunday, I spend time in cleaning my house as I enjoy keeping it spick and span.
- Tell us something about your early life, how were you as a child?
I was basically a very happy child, all that you see of me today I attribute it to my father. My father was a strong businessman he owned the Globe Cinemas and he always ensured that I was in the business. Whilst my mother saw to it that I learnt the household chores as well. So, there was a combination of business and home understanding. I was one of the luckiest child, as I had the best childhood. I got the best of what a child needs in their childhood and if everybody gets a childhood like me, then they will be healthy citizens of our country.
- What is the role of your family for your success?
Yes, I would like to attribute all my success to my husband. He has, always encouraged me and supported me. Even if I go home late sometimes due to work, he takes care of all the household chores and understands my situation. My father, my husband and my mother have all contributed to my success, because without their encouragement I would not be able to make it.