Nadhirah Jalani had a well-paying day job, but dreamt about doing something with her passion for making lifestyle products centred around her Muslim beliefs.
“It was like an itch I had to scratch,” she told her bemused audience at a recent event organised by the Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN). Today, she is the ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ at Qenza.
Nadhirah joined three other successful business leaders in a facilitated discussion at the event, as they spoke about their particular journeys, how they found their purpose, and the problems they solved along the way.
Nadhirah revealed in her presentation that the biggest challenge she faced in her entrepreneurial life has been that she has had to become “a master of all trades” – run a warehouse, create a marketing plan, look after accounting. “Yet passion is the fuel that makes it all happen,” she finished.
The others who recounted their inspirational stories included Debbie Whiting (Managing Director, Utopia Financial Services Group), Johnny Wong (Business Owner/Restaurateur) and Jo Saunders (Marketing Strategist/Author).
Jo Saunders, social media guru, described herself as an “accidental” entrepreneur. She advised budding entrepreneurs to be prepared for a “roller coaster” ride. Being part of networks, collaborating with others, helping people connect and running events is what motivated this published author and recognised speaker. “Give it a go and the money will take care of itself,” she told her young audience. “Connect with mentors who understand your vision and can help you.”
Debbie Whiting, investment accounting expert, showcased her single-minded focus when she proclaimed that there is no point in becoming a “part-time” entrepreneur. “If you want to spend one day on your business, you might as well play golf!”
A continual striving for excellence is what keeps her motivated, she revealed. “Set goals and use a scorecard to track progress. A true business means it’s bigger than you, more scalable than you and can outlive you.”
She talked also about the importance of “expert power” (she herself conducts seminars as an expert on topics in her industry), of doing a SWOT analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, and of surrounding yourself with people with complementary skills.
Johnny Wong, burger maestro, said entrepreneurship for him is about creative freedom. His one-line mission statement is “Good food for good people”. He talked about how he struggled to finish high school and felt the pressure from his family to perform well in academics. His family initially didn’t believe he could succeed in the food business, but after seeing his successes over a few years, they now help him. “Do what you love, and people will love what you do,” he concluded convincingly.
It was passion that came across clearly as an underlying theme in all four stories – whether it was passion for making delicious burgers, or looking after someone’s financial investments, or writing a book on social media management. Yet, Nadhirah sounded a note of warning: “Don’t let passion be your peril!” she noted. Have an exit plan, and be ruthless in cutting your losses if the business model isn’t working,” she advised.
The four entrepreneurs attracted a good turnout, even though the weather outside was stormy and cold. A Uni student confided, “I’ve almost completed my engineering and accounting degree, but I don’t see myself doing a 9 to 5 job, that’s why I am here – to learn about other avenues to success.” A salaried professional with over 15 years of industry experience said, “I enjoy what I do and don’t really see myself starting a business in the short term. But this event might give me new ideas”. One common thread among attendees was an interest in personal growth and a thirst for new ideas.
The Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN) was established in 2012, as part of an initiative by Sikh Youth Australia. The Perth chapter has been operational since November 2015. In the past, the group has staged events hosting well known guests like spoken word artist Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, and the CIO of the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Are YSPN’s events just for Sikhs or for young people? Balraj Singh Hansra, National Content Lead at YSPN Perth, and facilitator of this most recent event, clarified, “We target all demographics. The title Young Sikh Professional Network reflects our beginnings as a Sikh Youth Australia initiative, but our events are inclusive of the wider community. Interest for these events is broad based.”
Top five takeaways from the discussion?
- Find the entrepreneurial path that is right for your circumstances.
- Fuel your journey through adversities with your passion for what you do.
- Build up your “expert power”. Learn and improve continuously.
- Connect with and take feedback from mentors who understand your vision.
- Set goals and track your progress.