How Tara Daniel moved from full-time employee to entrepreneur


Starting your own business can be the most rewarding and the most challenging time of your life. 
Starting a business is not for everyone. Being self-employed is very different than being an employee. Reality is that 8 out of 10 small businesses inevitably fail because owning a business is not an easy thing to do.  

I'm not trying to scare you, but to make you aware of the challenges that you might face. Still, if this is what you really want, then go for it. 

What I've learned so far from all the women I've interviewed is that you have to prepare yourself for what you are about to do. If you don’t learn how to do this, you’ll end up overwhelmed and being all over the place. With proper planning and a lot of hard work, the transition from “employee” to “entrepreneur” will be manageable. 

Here is an interview with founder and owner of Ora Pets, Tara Daniel. Her company creates purposeful dog products for small to medium breed dogs. She shares so much wisdom in this interview.

Please share your story. How did you move from corporate world into being an business owner? How did that process unravel?

I started re-evaluating my career at the start of 2015 due to the immense amount of travel my job was demanding. I knew I wanted a change but I wasn’t sure of what my new direction should be or what was the next step for me. Leaving the corporate world can be a very overwhelming thought for most people and understandably the lack of stability as you know it, is enough for anyone to avoid or put off the leap of changing ones career. For me the move or push rather came towards the end of 2015 when there was a restructure and I was affected by it. I chose to look at the situation ahead as a great big opportunity. I finally had no excuses and the decision was made for me I was no longer part of the crazy corporate world which I had known and grown to love for over 10 years.
All I knew is that I wanted to do something which I could call my own, something which challenged me on a daily basis and would force me to learn new skills. The goal was to move so far out of my comfort zone that I didn’t recognize that zone anymore. My new motto was “Don’t fear failure, fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today”. The fear of the unknown pushed me to thinking quick and it was simple for me, I wanted to build a business around my two French bulldogs because the thought of spending more time with them made me instantly happy. I’ve always been a dog lover and since having my own dogs I’ve noticed a massive gap in the South African market for unique pet products especially options for travelling with small to medium sized dogs in the car. At the end 2015 I had registered my company, had a prototype tested and was searching for material options. September 08, 2016 was our official first trading day for Ora Pets and I have never looked back once! As much as people say don’t you wish you had done this years ago.. I know the timing was right for me and the universe helped a little with a push along the way. Life never turns about exactly as you planned, sometimes it turns out better than you could have hoped for.

What were your fears about making the leap from a full-time job with a steady income and benefits to running your own business?

Financial was my biggest fear as well as the comforts that go with working for corporate companies which were now at my own expense. I drew up a budget sheet and had to prioritise what was the most important to me. A lot of my expenses were no longer justified, shopping for new clothes is not at the top of your list when you need to downscale and be frugal and sadly neither is wandering into book stores and buying the latest best seller or overseas magazines during your lunch hour. The biggest benefit to running your own business is that it is truly all yours, the stress, the worry, the happiness, the highs the lows and the success is all because of you and your hard work. If you manage your time right there is a lot of flexibility that comes with being your own boss.

What is your experience so far as an entrepreneur?

I’ve learned to have a new respect for coffee and very early mornings / late nights. Always have a back-up plan, no matter how well you plan and put contingency measures in place, life will throw you curve balls and suppliers will let you down. Sometimes the craziest ideas are the ones that work the best and have the most uptake. Never pass up an opportunity to learn from someone else’s mistakes, this will help you along the way to becoming better at what you do and how you do it. I’ve learned that it takes a lot of courage to take the first step but once you have the rest seem a little easier. The twisted knots in your stomach don’t go away, it means you truly care and you want your business to become successful, that’s how I choose to see them. Life doesn’t have a repeat button so make the most of each and every single day no matter how tough it is. It does get easier with time.

What advice would you give to women who want to start a business?
Trust your gut always, you know yourself better than you realise. Allow friends in and accept their offers of help, they want to see you succeed. Network like your life depends on it, there is no harm in knowing as many people as possible, you never know when you may need business advice or an introduction to a new supplier. Take constructive criticism every chance you get, it will help you to grow and to learn from your mistakes. Know that some people you can’t please, you will get a customer who no matter what you do, they are never happy. These are the people that will test you and will remind you why you went into business, try not to let it bring you down. Surround yourself with people who understand that you are setting up your own business and there is a lot of hard work ahead, early mornings, late nights, working weekends, deadlines and satisfaction at the end of the day. These people who understand your journey will support you along the way and be your biggest cheerleaders on days that you need it. One of my oldest childhood friends still messages me most Monday mornings saying she hopes “I kick Mondays butt” I usually reply with a photo of coffee in one hand and a row of orders waiting for the courier in the background. Moments like these remind you that you are not alone and it’s natural to want to share in others happiness and to be proud of what they are doing. 

If you require Ora Pets services, get in touch via email: Email : hello@orapets.com.

Check out their Instagram and Facebook pages.

As you can see, some self-examination, some determination and some planning - and you too can be successfully self-employed.

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