Founder of Sydney-based Collaborate HR, Ushma Dhanak, says being authentic is crucial when it comes to running a small business. With 10 years’ experience working for a range of large private sector companies, Ushma has a vast knowledge having worked in blue collar industries. She shares why she started her own business and how she wants to help other small business owners.
Q. Why did you start Collaborate HR?
I moved to Sydney from London 12 years ago and had studied as a lawyer. I worked in the world of HR, because I was very passionate about working with people. I knew that the trends were moving away from hiring a full time HR person, especially for small to medium businesses where they do not need to have a full time presence. So I started Collaborate HR 18 months ago. However, they also need the support to manage their day-to-day HR issues that arise and a HR strategy to assists in employee engagement.
Q. What does Collaborate HR offer?
HR is one of the most important elements to consider when you are getting up and running a small business. We outsource HR for small to medium businesses and provide structure, strategy and support for business owners around their HR concerns. We help them ensure their employees are engaged and are performing well. We also specialise in specialised workshops and coaching.
Q. How did you finance Collaborate HR?
I quit my full time HR position and took on a part time three days a week HR role and did some contracting. Every other hour was spent on setting the business up and working closely with my coach and getting a clear idea of what my message and business was about.
Q. What were some of the trails associated with starting your small business?
One of the trials that I faced was self-doubt about what I had created. In your head you know that you have a great service to offer and it will help business owners. However, when you put yourself out there you need to be clear on how you are going to help other businesses. Other trials were that as the business evolves over a 12-month period, you evolve and grow and you won’t necessarily have all the answers you are looking for.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you have faced in Collaborate HR?
My biggest challenge was showing small to medium business owners that they need to look after their people and giving them the confidence and skills to do just that.
Q. What do you enjoy about being a small business owner?
I enjoy that each day is different. I work on an average 50 hours a week. I also read and invest in my own learning. It has made me more disciplined about how I work, what I choose to do and how I can make a difference. I love the flexibility my small business gives me when needed. I thrive on seeing the results that I want. I spend most of my time in the sales area followed by reflection. I spend time reflecting on sharpening my processes, my offering and my brand.
Q. How would you like small business owners to be supported in Australia?
I would love to support business owners by letting them know that they are not alone in the challenges they face each day in the HR world. I also know all too well that many business owners take it upon themselves to manage their HR. I want them to know that there is support available without having to hire a full time HR employee.
There are other options and I want to have the opportunity to share these with them. Business owners learn the skills they feel are needed technically and in the business sense to run their business. They also need to invest in themselves, and their own EQ. This is what I want to work on with small business owners.
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