By Rakesh Sharma
After spending three years running my own small business, I already knew entrepreneurship was the right path for me when I came across an opportunity to buy a Trade Secrets franchise in Scarborough in 2016. Since it was part of the fast-growing beauty industry and offered fantastic support for me as a business owner, diving into the franchise system seemed like the natural next step in my professional journey.
From banker to businessman
Originally, I never thought I would start my own business. I actually planned to go into the banking sector. I’m great with numbers, so in school, my majors were math and physics. I even got a bachelor’s degree in science. I’ve always had a high standard for success, too—if I had to write a paper that was being marked out of 100 and my final grade was 99, I’d get upset, wondering why it hadn’t been perfect.
I completed my bachelor’s degree in India, where I was born, but I came to Toronto when I was 21 to take a course in global business management. I enjoyed studying bigger companies’ strategies for dealing with customers and how successful they’ve been. For example, Walmart failed in Germany and McDonald’s failed in India despite being huge in other countries. Even big corporations can make silly mistakes that cost them billions of dollars. Those kinds of stories are really interesting to me, and even today I keep up on them in the news.
I took that course for two years, then did a few jobs at Tim Hortons and some construction work. Eventually, I started working for Target when it launched in Canada. I was hired as a part-time sales rep in the cell phone section, but within two or three months of joining, I was promoted to manager. That experience really changed my perspective. Even though I had been looking at the banking industry, the position I held at Target was the first good job I’d had, and I was really good at it. It gave me great experience with the management of a big company and the different aspects of running a business.
After about a year, I decided to try to start my own small business. I thought I would give myself six months to see how it went, and if it didn’t work out, I would come back to my old position. Since I had experience working in Target’s cell phone section, that’s the industry I went into. I opened a small cell phone shop in Brampton, Ont., in 2014, and it went even better than I’d hoped. Within two years, I had grown the number of stores to three. My second store was opened in April 2015, and my third one the following September. I still own the stores as a side business, and have never looked back when it comes to entrepreneurship.