The fourth time was the charm for Raj Narayanaswamy and Lakshmi Raj. Their first two years in business, they couldn't get funding and they launched three products that failed.
Now, their small firm employs about 300 people and their online time-and-expense management software has more than 1.5 million users in 70 countries.
Beyond the business struggles, they also faced personal challenges managing their time and learning how to balance work with their personal lives. They tried keeping a strict separation between work and business at first, but then decided it was easier just to not worry about a barrier. Now if they end up talking shop at 11:30 p.m. after a movie, it's okay with them.
One big plus of working together is honesty, said Raj. "We bring a very authentic culture. Everybody is themselves" at the office, he said. Because the leaders of the company are comfortable and open, that encourages the rest of the office to bring their real personalities to work.
During tough times, the two depend on each other. The secret is "not giving up, working through the struggle, whether it was business or personal," said Lakshmi.
Their families are in India, so when they started racking up credit card debt, they had to figure it out on their own.
"If we declared bankruptcy, there is no aunt's house or grandma's house to go in and stay in," she said.
The couple has maintained a sense of humor throughout. The marriage works, because "I am always wrong," said Raj.
These seven business owners are determined to become debt-free. They are ditching credit cards and giving their bank loans the old heave-ho.
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