Interview with Diya Selva – Candid Profile of An Entrepreneur

This article formerly appeared in “Traditions” University of Guelph-Humber

Interview based article by Katrina DiRaddo

Interview with Diya Selva Diya Selva is a natural entrepreneur born in India and currently residing in Mississauga, Ontario. Like many up-and-coming entrepreneurs, Diya had founded several businesses before the one she is working on today.

As an ambitious 21-year-old in India, Diya noticed a gap in academic summer camps for high school and college students, and decided to start Air Your Wings in her small town. She organized, marketed, and facilitated the on boarding of faculty to run this summer camp for students, teaching everything from leadership and public speaking to conversational English and Vedic mathematics. It laid the foundation for like-minded people to start similar summer camps, and Diya operated hers for three years until moving to Canada.

             Settled in Mississauga, Diya quickly thought of her first new business. She opened up a niche doggie daycare business called Aarf Home, and it was a lucrative success. Aarf Home catered to all dog owners’ needs: daycare, overnight cage-free boarding, grooming services, obedience and agility training, retail dog foods including frozen raw, play sessions, and doggie birthday parties. In 2005 when Aarf Home opened, it was only the second facility of its kind in Mississauga. Over the next five years, 12 competitors opened and were ruthlessly undercutting to establish themselves and their clientele. Increasing commercial rent and a decreasing Ontario economy did not help the situation.

Diya tried to stay afloat in her sixth year via cost cutting and employee layoffs, but by the seventh year of operation, it was not longer profitable nor lucrative, and she had to make the tough decision to close the doors of Aarf Home. As a person, it was emotionally taxing and challenged Diya’s self-worth and confidence; but as an entrepreneur, she knew the market was changing and it was time to let go.

            Still strongly determined, Diya launched her third business: Virtual Plus. With the help of a small team of virtual assistants, graphic artists and bookkeepers, Virtual Plus offers small businesses a multitude of administrative services such as email/calendar management, marketing/website management, bookkeeping and staff orientation training. Virtual Plus is currently still operating, and actually ties in to her fourth business.

          Bestauranto Diya Selva   Diya then moved on to taking courses in online business management and business coaching. In addition to offering consultations on efficiency, productivity, financial and marketing strategy, Diya also offers marketing tasks like website development, content creation and management, search engine optimization and digital advertising, social media management, online reputation management, review boosting, and directory listings.

Diya’s current customers vouch that their success is vastly due to strategic planning and implementation of various aspects of their businesses with expert coaching from Diya. And all Diya has to say about it is, “If my clients are successful and happy, that is my bottomline.”

Personality, Characteristics, Skills, and Knowledge

            When asked about knowledge and education prior to starting her first business, Diya said all it took was imagination and creativity. When she switched between industries upon starting new businesses, she ensured that she had an interest in the core business and felt comfortable with it. From there, it was easy to learn along the way as she emerged in the industry, as well as certify herself in any compulsory or asset courses. Much of her ongoing learning comes from internet experts and online classes.

            As proven, Diya possesses strong determination and unwavering passion, which she notes are must-have traits for entrepreneurs. In her opinion, Diya noted that she believes fear is a factor that keeps many people from enterprising. Whether this is a lack of self-confidence or a fear of failure, an entrepreneur would not be scared to take calculated risks, learn new concepts and methodologies, and promote themselves boldly.

If one can overcome these inner challenges, then they are one step closer to following their dream and achieving success. Aside from these characteristics, Diya advised that other micro skills which are important to either have or outsource include financial management, networking, and recognizing/learning from failure.

            Over the years of establishing a variety of businesses, Diya has been able to acquire new skills pertinent to each business. For example, retail management was an important skill to learn for the operation of Aarf Home, but website coding was the more important skill when it came to running Virtual Plus. However, Diya recognizes that skills you may not think are necessarily transferrable across industries actually do provide a lot of insight. From her first business of marketing Air Your Wings, networking and managing faculty developed high levels of people skills. “Public speaking, classroom management and maybe even the art of encouraging a group of teens to stand up in a crowd can be called skills here,” Diya noted. The skills learned at each business contributed to the foundation of the next.

            When asked about the importance of continuous learning, she could not stress it enough. I think she described it best exactly the way she said it: “You blink once and there is something new on your plate… You blink twice and you have a whole new world in front of you. So, in order to perform effectively and adapt to changes in the ever shifting dynamics of the marketing world, you never get off the rollercoaster of continuous learning.”

Current Opportunity and Recognition

DiyaSelva

Diya Selva

   As mentioned, Diya’s current businesses are Virtual Plus and Bestauranto, with an emphasis on the latter. To learn more about how and why she decided to start Bestauranto in 2015, I asked questions pertaining to her feasibility analysis.

            Diya places Bestauranto in the “advertising and marketing” industry. She believes that even with a high saturation of marketing agencies in Ontario, keeping her services personal and unique will retain her value. The market for these services is large, and perhaps still large enough where businesses are each able to find their own share. “I believe I’m my worst competitor,” Diya concluded with.

            When asked to rate the desirability and demand for Bestauranto on a scale of 1-10 (10 as the most desirable service), Diya rated it off the scale with an 11. Her reasoning was simple: Marketing is a full-time job, and if a business spends too much time on it, then they are neglecting their customers, but if marketing is neglected, then their business is not reaching its full potential.

            The target market for Bestauranto is composed of restaurants, food caterers, fitness instructors, spas, therapists, event organizers, and other similar businesses. An ideal customer is essentially any small business that is already established and wants to expand, understands the patience required for a marketing plan to work, and is willing to put forth a small investment into marketing.

            In regards to management skills and resources, Diya feels she has mastered that pretty well. She can understand the operational management of small businesses and restaurants inside out. She has accumulated the knowledge and experience to efficiently guide an entrepreneur to shape accurate figures, cut costs, and manage their finances and other resources. She tells her Bestauranto customers to focus on creating their best food, and she’ll generate the hunger.

Future Potential Opportunities

            As a wrap up, Diya’s brain was picked about any potential future opportunities. Of course, she is already working on some! Mainly, online business directories that go above and beyond what Yellow Pages could ever offer, where businesses pay to get listed and then have their information shared on social media platforms. Diya also has what she calls a fun “hobby venture”: She sources lucrative items to sell on giant platforms (Amazon, eBay), and then sells them, without keeping a large inventory.

            Finally, she was presented with a scenario: If she could start up and operate any business and it be guaranteed a success, what would that business be? Well, she said if that were true, she has already started it!

 

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