What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Growing up with my father who is the definition of entrepreneur, I knew it was something I was destined to do at some point in my life. After working insane hours for the benefit of others in the corporate world, when the opportunity came to join my father and develop and grow the business, I jumped at the chance. I have never looked back.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The best part of owning my own business is the flexibility that comes with it. I am the mother to a young toddler and I love being able to spend time with him when I can and schedule work when I need to. The second best part is the networking I’ve started doing; meeting other like-minded individuals has been a great experience in exchanging ideas and making connections both personally and professionally.
Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family that answer the call?
I count on my parents and my in-laws. My father is my partner in business and has been doing this for almost 30 years. He is my go-to for any technical advice or client relationship advice I need. My mother and my mother-in-law are my go-to for babysitting when work and personal needs overlap.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
My family has had to sacrifice a steady income, and we’ve had to learn to live off of one income until my own client base is developed and steady. I also sacrifice work to be with my son when he needs me; this may mean not going to every networking event I’m invited to or having to reschedule a meeting. I find most people, especially fellow mom entrepreneurs, are very supportive of needing to balance work and family.
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
I have planned my working life so that I get at least 1 day off with my son where it is just him and I. We go to the park, or play in the backyard, just the two of us.
Are you active in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
At this stage in my life I am not as active in my community as I have been in the past. I have volunteered with the University of Toronto alumni association in the past. Supporting local means using my personal time, or my professional skills, to help those who can benefit from it.
Name another entrepreneur who inspires you.
My father, Harpal Dharna.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
I see myself growing my business and establishing Dharna CPA as the go-to business for all accounting, business and taxation needs.
Any tips for other women thinking of starting a business?
Be mentally prepared. You are likely sacrificing things at home – steady income, investing your savings, or not being as available to do everything around the house as you have been in the past – but know that it is for the greater good of the family when your business will succeed.
A version of Shalini’s Success Story was previously published in July 2016.