Taskeen Suleman is a Health and Wellness entrepreneur. Together with her business partner Steve Mululu, she started the business when she was 24 years old. The first time you meet her, she appears quiet and reserved, but a few moments with her and you realise that is not the case at all. Taskeen is friendly, warm, vibrant, accommodating and definitely mature beyond her years. She shares with ESTROGEN her journey as a business woman.
Q: How would you describe yourself?
I am a very passionate, loyal, dedicated and hardworking person, always looking to help others in whatever way I can.
Q: What line of business are you in and why?
Selling Human Energy. I believe we cannot give people more time in the day, but we certainly can give them more energy to accomplish more in the time that they have while being healthy and looking the best they have looked.
Q: What is the name of your business?
Dream Body Fitness & Wellness Centre
Q: What are your qualifications?
Honours Sport Science
Q: Do you plan to study further?
Yes, I am currently busy with my MBA in Executive Business.
Q: What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
I have always wanted to work for myself and help as many people become health conscious (live longer and be happy!) as I possibly could.
Q: Give us a brief history of your journey from completing matric (secondary school) to where you are now?
After matriculating (completing secondary school) I studied for 4 years at the University of Johannesburg. Upon Graduating I started working immediately for Virgin Active. I started as a Floor Instructor for 4 months at Little Falls Virgin Active, I was then promoted to Personal Training Manager in the central Region. I filled that role for 4 years. The best part of the Journey happened when I met Steve Mululu at Morningside Virgin Active. We had a universal goal and that was to change as many lives as we could. And that is where Dream Body Fitness was born. Here we are 4 years later with a phenomenal product, adding value to unlimited lives while growing and having fun each and every day!
Q: What questions should an entrepreneur ask herself every day to become or remain successful?
What can I do today to WOW my clients? What can I improve on today from yesterday?
Q: What is the best and worst decision you have ever made?
My best decision is not focusing on my worst decisions; they were lessons which brought me to where I am NOW!
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Believe in your dreams and dream BIG!
Q: If you could rewind time, what would you do differently knowing what you know now?
Nothing. Everything happened as and when it was supposed to happen.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence in your life and why?
Steve Mululu, friends, family my staff and members. They all teach me valuable lessons of life and let me know who I am every day.
Q: What have been the highlights of your life in the past 5 years?
Definitely having a successful business with amazing staff and incredible members. Adding value to so many lives.
Q: What have been the low points?
Don’t have any, just have life experiences as point of references.
Q: Do you have long working hours? If so, how do you balance work, home and play?
I don’t work, I am living my dream.
Q: Do you think women feel intimidated in business? If yes, why do you think this is so?
Yes they do, they tend to always undermine themselves and question decisions they have taken. Male does not stand for superior, even in the alphabet F comes before M!
Q: How did you get where you are today, and who or what helped you along the way?
Hard word, commitment, dedication, belief. Everyone that I have ever met along the way has had a part to play in my journey. My integrity Pledge: I will honour every commitment, I will keep every promise, I will achieve every goal!
Q: What or who has kept you afloat during the dark times?
God. He is important during every time not only in the dark times.
Q: How important is marketing to a business and what is the up or downside of not marketing?
Marketing is the business! You can have an amazing brand or product but if no one has ever heard about it, it is merely an idea.
Q: How do you advertise your business?
Referrals are our biggest acquisition, mobile billboards, Social media platforms, Workshops, Corporate Wellness Days, the sales team which is very active outdoors as well as telephonically. We also participate in a lot of charity drives as well. Our clients are our walking advertisements.
Q: How important have good employees been to your success?
Very important, they create and maintain the brand.
Q: How do you find people to bring into your organization that truly care about the organization the way you do?
People approach us. Our brand is a very respected brand, and everyone wants to be associated with us as we are changing lives.
Q: What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and life as a result of this business journey that you undertook?
The way you treat staff and clients defines what kind of leader you are. Leaders are made through different experiences. Entrepreneurship is the road to financial and emotional freedom in the sense that no one owns you. In addition, if you want to become an entrepreneur remember you cannot do everything by yourself, believe in your staff and trust them, you own you and you are first and foremost accountable to YOU! Dream Big and Live Life fully every day, all day. Make every moment count. I have learnt the meaning of dedication, commitment and that hard work pays off.
Q: What do you think is the biggest mistake that women make in business?
Not believing in themselves.
Q: What is a woman’s greatest asset in business?
Attention to detail and persistence as well as focus and urgency.
Q: What three things about business do you think any aspiring businesswoman should know to increase their chances of success?
- Always know what is happening within the industry; general knowledge is also important.
- Live and breath your brand, be passionate.
- You are on show every day all day, behaviour never lies; you are your own business card.
Q: What is your all-time favourite book or movie and why?
The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho. Its teachings are amazing. What starts as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of treasure found within. It’s a deeply humane story; it is an eternal testament of the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
Q: What are you passionate about and why?
Life! It is an amazing journey each and every day.
Q: What are your interests outside of work? How do you relax?
I enjoy spending time with family and friends and of course my dog, Osama!
Did you need a lot of start-up capital? If yes, why?
Not at all, to dream doesn’t cost anything, to get others to believe in your dream costs dedication, commitment, passion.
What challenges did you face in raising the capital?
As we were the first of its kind in SA, raising capital wasn’t easy. Institutions want you to put in capital to get capital. Hello? If we had the capital we wouldn’t be asking for capital.
You mention that your establishment was the first of its kind in South Africa, what makes it unique?
We are a wellness centre as well as a high performance centre for the corporate athlete. We sell energy. Our unique selling points is that we care and we are with our clients every step of the way. We control the entire experience throughout every member’s journey. We empower and educate our clients continuously in terms of nutrition and training and overall well-being. To sum it up, we provide a lifelong process of responsibility that empowers the individual to exercise and take action towards a more balanced, dynamic sustainable and fulfilling existence in all dimensions of life.
A lot of women never start their own businesses because of ‘a lack of capital.’ Take us through the specific steps that you took to raise capital for your business venture?
We started pre-sales 3 months before opening our doors, we were selling our dream and vision. We had nothing tangible to give the clients at that stage, besides making them believe in us. Building a trusting and lasting relationship with each client was imperative to our capital and cash flow as well. As you know with memberships, they are either 12 weeks or 12 months (our products) and went off as debit orders. We strive to keep our expenses to a minimal but by no means compromising our value and service to our clients. We also built trusting relationships with our landlord and suppliers, we got them to believe in our dream. This assisted us as well in terms of our capital and cash flow.
What did you learn from this experience?
People only do business with people they trust.
Q: What is your definition of success?
Having the right attitude all the time in everything you do!!!
Q: Have you reached your life’s purpose? If so how, if not, what should we look forward to and when?
I am still on the journey and loving it. The destination is not as important as the amazing journey.