Usha started Dare to Dream in 2008, when she was part of the Women’s Issue Network for the Ministry of Justice.
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17 Apr 2013
Can you tell us a little bit about your business Dare To Dream and what it does?
My business is built on networking, engaging in training, confidence building, public speaking and presentation courses are among the most popular I provide, oh and confidence coaching.
Dare to Dream was conceived in 2008, when I was part of the Women’s Issue Network for the Ministry of Justice.
I attended a ’Winning Women’ conference and at the event was a jet banner with the sub-title Dare to Dream. It was a light bulb moment and I knew that one day that would be my company. I guess at that time Dare to Dream was ‘born’.
I subsequently heard an inspirational speaker called Kojo Gottfried who spoke about perceptions, your perception of yourself and people’s perception of you, and there was a paradigm shift within me.
I realised my perception of myself was different to people’s perception of me.
I began my journal and wrote down that I want to be a motivational speaker, to influence people with my words.
I took voluntary redundancy in 2009 so I could work on what I really wanted to and, in October 2009, I started my company Dare to Dream. I have never looked back.
From the outset I was clear what I wanted to do – I wanted to inspire and empower individuals across the globe.
My journey of my words began. My strap line initially was Dare to Dream “Where your inspiration meets your aspirations”, but in June 2012 after I formally launched Dare to Dream at the prestigious Hotel Park Plaza, my strap line became “The World is your Oyster” as that is how I feel about myself and my Daring to Dream…!!
What was the catalyst that made you decide to go into business?
I was always working for government and never ever thought I was cut out for business, let alone being an entrepreneur.
When I came to this county my first job was as a telephone operator for a law firm and that was 3 months into arriving here.
The advantage I had was I spoke the language well and landed a telephone receptionist job.
It was during that time I always looked to better myself and during my lunch breaks I taught myself to type and then became an article clerk to the owner.
I left after a year to have my daughter and during that time decided to contact all the people who made comments about my work and how professional I was.
It was in me at that time to cold call and network without realising it.
I then got the job as an estate agent administrator and was not satisfied with that I began sending applications to central government for a job.
I got an interview and a second interview and landed myself a job with the benefits agency.
As I was growing up, I had a formidable mum who taught me simple principles about life, and in her actions taught me to value what I have, but strive to be the best I CAN.
In those days, she was the first few Indian women to do her PHD in philosophy and being a single mum, her grit, determination, values in life made the woman I am today.
In 2008, I came to a crossroads in my career. At the time I was the manager of a number of multi-million pound contracts when I was working for the Ministry of Justice.
It was an excellent job and I loved it and was very good at it. But I always felt unfulfilled. I knew I wanted to focus on the softer skills.
A role came up in training and developing other contract and procurement managers and I went for it and was successful.
The first time I did a talk at one of the department’s annual away days, I got fantastic feedback.
The evaluation forms had comments like: “I can listen to her all day”, “she has a fantastic way of speaking and her delivery is excellent”.
It was only after speaking at a second event, at which I got even better accolades, that it dawned on me that I could use this skill in my own business.
I enjoy watching lives being changed by words with authenticity and passion. My passion to see people succeed coupled with my passion to use words to empower made my dream a reality.
As I was the founder of a charity www.wowministries.co.uk that allowed me to do a lot of speaking engagements for charities and gave the leverage to be good at public speaking.
From there I followed my dream and my company Dare to Dream began in 2009.
In 2012, when I formally launched my company, the title of that event was “No Limits” – that is how I see myself – No limits.
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What was holding you back from being an entrepreneur at the time?
I am a firm believer that there is a time for everything. I never thought of going into business as I was settled into the life of a civil servant and as a single mum wanted the safe option of a steady job.
It was in 2008 when I was at a crossroads in life and reflected on where I was going in my career did I step back and realise that there is more to life than just doing a full time job.
When I went to an event and saw women doing what they love – it was there that Dare to Dream was conceived.
Another important barrier was the lack of confidence, perhaps as I came from a terrible marriage and even though it was 14 years ago it took its toll on my confidence and also my capabilities and I believed that I can do no better for myself.
I began searching for something more and as I began to have faith in myself and started the process of building my confidence, as when I teach and speak on confidence now, I say show and state that confidence cannot be a one day wonder, but a process.
I am not the same person I was 14 years ago. Perhaps, it was something inside of me that died during the domestic violence years of my marriage that had to be re-built, and re-build I did and began to find out the real me.
Knowing myself, believing in myself was what hindered me for being the entrepreneur I am now and my passion is to speak to women who have gone through what I have and encourage, empower and hold their hands to be the women and men they want to be.
My song by Libbi Siffre – Something Inside So Strong resonates with me.
“The higher you build your barriers the taller I become.
The farther you take my rights away the faster I will run.
You can deny me, you can decide to turn your face away.
No matter ’cause there’s something inside so strong.
I know that I can make it, tho’ you’re doing me wrong so wrong.
You thought that my pride was gone.
Oh, no, something inside so strong.
Oh, oh oh oh oh something inside so strong".
As a woman of faith I know through God I have a purpose driven life and living my dream and decided not to waste time and “to let my passion be my profession”. I have never looked back.
Currently I have a full time job at parliament, I have a business and I also have a ministry/charity and that keeps me busy, but in the nicest possible way. I love people and love seeing them succeed.
What was the best business advice you were given?
The best business advice given to me was “prepare to do the best you can.”
My mother taught me to believe in myself, but she also taught me about life. She said baby do the best YOU can and then put up the umbrella and let the rain of criticism fall down your back.
She taught me life skills about have Integrity in everything I do and taught me to take pride in all I do.
She said "aim high Usha and be the BEST YOU CAN".
I use these in my talks now and I love using acronyms in my talks and this is one of my favourites; aim H.I.G.H.
H for honesty
I for integrity
G for goals and
H for hardwork [©dtod].
Never give up!
My brother is a successful powerful entrepreneur and he taught me to look above the parapet when making decision, he said “be an eagle Usha and soar and make your dreams a reality”.
He said “always prepare and know how to engage with your competitors” – that is powerful as we should be aware of our competitors not afraid of them as we should be proud of who we are, what we do and let our passion ride high.
What is the most exciting thing happening in your sector right now?
Women rising up to be powerful entrepreneurs and making their voice heard. Powerful and it warms my heart to see charities and church sectors rising up.
Social media being a powerful tool and the use of webinars as people know that the globe is smaller now with technology and what excites me is we don’t have to be geographical in our thinking.
We need to be global in our vision that’s what I want for Dare to Dream to be a global platform to empower people.
What are your customers demanding more from you at the moment?
Being and speaker and a confident coach people always want advice and to direct them in their business, but also many of them love the energy, passion I have.
I also have a powerful spiritual side which many individuals and group want a bit of.
This is what makes me love what I do, do my talks and after that have 1-2-1 with people and help them be who they want to be with a word of knowledge to encourage and bless them along.
I speak at a number of events and that is what love to, and also have set up entrepreneurial clinics on Saturdays evening at a very nominal rate to help every individual to meet their god give potential and purpose in life.
What social media tool are you using at the moment?
I use Twitter / LinkedIn and Facebook.
To be honest I have not been active enough on Twitter and LinkedIn to promote my business and it is one of the areas that I will be turning my attention to in the next few months.
What is your take on personal business failures?
Motivation, Momentum and being Methodical despite the odds.
For me I have learned it is a mindset thing and my attitude determines my altitude.
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it’s expressed in the choices we make. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
What is difference that is making the difference for success in business?
People being authentic, true to yourself and making your vision and your dream come alive.
What is your favourite quote?
“To every man there comes a time in his life time, that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work that could be his finest hour.” — Winston Churchill
I love this quote. If you keep this at the back of your mind you won’t miss that opportunity that could change everything.
What next for your business?
Going global – making ‘Dare to Dream’ a household name like John C Maxwell. Making a difference in people’s lives.
I wish I had been bold enough to step out and be an entrepreneur earlier. But I guess I had to know who I was, find that inner confidence in me – and then I stepped out.
I did it even though I was afraid and I am so glad I did.