Career

I Launched A Business Solo At 24. Here’s How

With limited experience, at the age of 24 Esha Oberoi launched her own start-up. Now, after 10 years, she says what has made it a successful business.

“I was young and had nothing to lose,” says Esha Oberoi of the time she launched her business, Afea Care Services. At the age of 24, she established her business offering in-home care services. She’s since been recognised in multiple business awards, and Afea is growing fast, now delivering care to more than 500 people across NSW.

“I didn’t have access to a network of business mentors, and I relied heavily on my intuition when it came to making decisions,” says Esha. “Even when things didn’t go to plan, the resulting lessons were invaluable. I became a good listener and asked lots of questions of anyone who had commercial experience.”

Esha spoke to The Cusp and let us know some of the factors she believes contributed to successful business, and tips for other potential young entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting a business.

Find your niche

“In my early 20s I landed a job working as a carer in a nursing home,” says Esha. It was here that she identified the gap in the market she could take advantage of to find her own success.

“I realised that many of the residents could have continued living in the comfort and familiarity of their own home, with a carer coming to check in on them,” she says. “Many of them didn’t know this was an option.”

The fact that this service wasn’t widely offered sparked the idea that would become Afea Care Services. It inspired Esha to establish her own in-home care service, enabling people to live in their homes for longer, leading more independent lives. For young people wanting to start a business, addressing a gap in the market is hands down one of the best ways to give a start-up an early advantage.

Steps to success

Esha launched the business solo at first, and made it her mission to ensure her focus was always on giving the people under her care the best experience possible. She also says that having a firm idea of where the business was heading and what she wanted to achieve helped her to remain fixed on her goal.

“Start with a clear purpose, and spend time defining your mission, vision and values,” she says. “I found that once those were clear for Afea, I stopped becoming distracted and found my focus.”

Taking a customer-centric approach was essential to the success and growth of Afea. “If you can tune into your customer’s needs and really take the time to build a business around them, you’ll be in a better position to handle the ups and downs along the way,” says Esha.

Two approaches helped a lot: finding a mentor, and listening to intuition. Learning from people who have already succeeded was a big thing for Esha, while she recognised that no two businesses are alike – she needed to forge her own path at the same time.

“You will make mistakes – we all do – that’s just part of the journey,” she says. “Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing, though. Look at how you can continually improve your business model to better serve your customers.”

Millennials in business

For Esha, a lack of experience was no barrier to finding her own success, even thought she’d had no formal education. She made up for it by “working twice as hard to build credibility and gain the respect of my peers.”

Millennials are tech-savvy people, determined to meet and exceed their goals and not content to stay in the same job for 20 years.

She argues that millennials are well equipped for finding success running their own businesses, especially due to the era in which they’ve come into their professional lives.

“Millennials have grown up in a fast-paced, tech-driven world, and embrace greater flexibility in the workforce,” she says. “They’re tech-savvy people, determined to meet and exceed their goals and not content to stay in the same job for 20 years, like generations before them were. This all makes them highly adaptive, a trait well-suited to running a start-up business.”

Advice for starting a business

Esha offers the below advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, learnt through her own trial and error in 10 years of operating a business.

#1 Find your purpose

“Rather than chasing a pay cheque, seek to find a sense of purpose and how you can contribute to the world.”

#2 Failure is OK

“We learn so much from failure. We should not distract ourselves, but rather face the emotions so we can overcome them and heal from them. Try and look for the opportunities that comes with failure.”

#3 Cash flow is everything

“I’ve learnt that having forecasting and cash flow projections from early on is critical for financial sustainability. This means having discipline in controlling the cash inflow and outflow.”

#4 Take time for yourself

“When I get too consumed operationally, I have to force myself to step away. I find time outside the business. This can even be as simple as 10 minutes of meditation daily.”

If you’re thinking of launching your own business, consider these five things you need to make your business idea happen.