Phyllis Narula is the owner operator of her successful hub of Early Learning Centres in Perth. The Narula Group was born after Phyllis struggled to find adequate child care for her daughter back in 2006. Years later, Phyllis was awarded the 2015 Telstra Western Australian Entrepreneur Award for her successful growth of the Narula Group.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
Narula Group of Child Care companies is the parent company to nine Early Learning Centres in the Perth Metropolitan area. The Centres are under the direction and ownership of my husband and I, the first being in operation since 2006. Each centre is run at a very high standard with staff that I personally choose to ensure their capabilities and experience are adequate for the role and they are a good fit for the team culture. I have achieved significant success through my entrepreneurship in a short period of time. Not only have I and my team created an environment where families receive a high standard of child care, but by building my businesses has provided job opportunities for over 100 Western Australians. In addition, over 1,000 children are in the care of Narula Group of Child Care centres.
What did you want to be when you left school? Did you study?
Upon completion of high school, I furthered my studies by completing a Diploma in Travel & Tourism an industry I was passionate about. This led my career as a Travel consultant for Harvey World Travel. After seven successful years and many rewards overseas, I then started my family and upon returning to the workforce I struggled to find adequate child care. I have always had an interest in early childhood learning & after extensive research I decided to open up my own centre. In 2006 I opened Little Peoples Place in East Fremantle. I have grown from one centre to 10 centres in the short period of time.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur? Was your entrepreneurial journey linked to your personal one?
(Answering to both) My journey started in 2006 when I struggled to find a suitable child care centre for my daughter. So, despite not having any background in the field, I decided to create my own. In order to open my first child care I had to sell everything I had, including my first family home. With my supportive husband we moved into a small duplex not certain about the future. Within 6 months the very run down centre which was in the verge of closing down was transformed and went from 10 children to capacity. My only knowledge I relied on was my vision I had. A year later went on to complete my certificate 3 in Early Childhood & then on to completing my Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
Best decision I made was to expand from one centre to nine centres as it stands today and to keep it family owned and operated.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
It’s easy for me to discuss having a business plan and strategy but most importantly executing the strategy and staying on course. The greatest lesson I have learned as an entrepreneur is that there is no failure just feedback. Keep up to date as to what is going on in your industry and your business network. Understand if the business is your passion.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Most significant barrier is self-belief issues. Or a preconceived idea of what a leader is and not believing in themselves & their unique style.
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Oprah has done so much in her career. The most inspiring thing she has done is showing you that your circumstances don’t dictate your life, only your desire does. She is a true leader that inspires people across all age and demography.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
Have no regrets and follow your dreams. This advice was given to me by my parents. This has guided my entire life and journey.
Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?
Apart from being an owner operator, I am also a leader to my team, mentor to my staff and role model to the children. I often share my story to my staff as a mentoring tool, highlighting that anything is possible with hard work, determination, dedication & team work. I am always out there in the community to help young entrepreneurs who needs help to build their own business. I also go out other child care centres who are struggling to find their feet in the market.
When you think of your journey, what is the thing you are most proud of?
There are several, one is the tremendous growth of the centres in a short period. Being able to provide excellent child care service to over 1,000 WA children. My proudest achievement is leading my team to gain exceeding awarded by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Authority. This is one of my most important achievements due to the fact that this centre was awfully run down and was my very first centre I bought.
What is your favourite thing to do in your downtime?
Spending time with my family is my utmost priority. Creating a work life balance is essential and in addition to family orientated activities. I love working out at the gym where I can recharge & be reinvigorated.