Danielle Taylor — competitive netball player, business owner and mother — sharing her perspectives on how playing sports foster her entrepreneurial mindset
Danielle Taylor is a physiotherapist, online business owner and mother of 2 daughters. Originally from Brisbane, Australia, she has called Hong Kong home for the last 16 years. Sports have always been an integral part of Danielle’s’ life, having been a state and Australian representative for swimming, netball, surf life saving and water polo. It is netball however that has remained her one true passion, which she started playing at the tender age of 5 and continues to play at top level in Hong Kong to this day. Danielle has also been a physiotherapist for the U/21 netball team, is presently the Vice President of the Hong Kong Netball Association and netball coach for her 8-year-old daughter.
You are a physiotherapist, but also started your own online business to become an independent distributor for a global skincare and nutrition company. What prompted you to become a business owner, and what has the experience been like?
I guess from even when I was very young, I had the entrepreneurial spirit. I was always finding ways to make money even in primary school.
When I was in university, I always dreamed of having my own physiotherapy clinic. I loved the idea of being my own boss and having the challenge of setting everything up.
So when I came to HK, I started up a physiotherapy clinic (called Physiocentral) in 2003 with another colleague. I sold this in 2011 when I had my second daughter as I wanted to spend more time with my family. My husband is a Cathay Pacific pilot and is away a lot so I wanted to be able to go along to all my daughters’ activities like soccer tots and ballet, especially when they were still quite young. My Mum and Dad were great role models for me and I can honestly say until I came to HK, I don’t remember them missing one single netball game of mine in almost 20 years. I loved having them there at games and hearing them encouraging me on the sidelines; I wanted to do the same for my daughters.
So after selling my shares in Physiocentral, I went back to work as an employee at another clinic. After 2 years, I realized I preferred being my own boss. I liked the flexibility and personal challenge as starting up your own business really makes you step out of your own comfort zone in many ways, physically, financially and emotionally.
I was looking to have a business that would give me residual income so I could set myself up financially for the future. I really liked the idea of getting passive income from other people. In the past, I would only get paid if I was working. When I was sick or on holidays, I wouldn’t get an income which made it difficult to save.
Jeunesse came at a perfect time for me as it gave me the opportunity to be my own business owner, without the risk or financial outlay of starting up another traditional business such as a physiotherapy clinic — and it also gave me the opportunity to earn residual income. After 2 years, I now get passive income from over 350 people in 8 countries.
You’ve been playing sports since you were five years old. Throughout these years, what impact do you think playing sports has had on your personal, school and professional life?
I really feel that sport has had such a massively positive impact on all 3 aspects of my life.
When I was at school, I was playing sport for at least 4 hours every day so it taught me to be very efficient with my time so I was able to fit everything in. It also taught me to be very organized as well. I remember having to make sure I had my sports gear always packed the night before because often I would have to go from swimming training to netball training immediately after, and somehow fit homework in between.
From playing a lot of teams sports, I have made some great friendships and have had many amazing experiences travelling around Australia and internationally competing in tournaments. I think this is where my love of travel developed from. My first time on a plane was when I was 9 and travelling to Cairns for a swimming tournament. I was so excited. I think at the time that was my main motivation for making the team: just so I could go on the plane. I was so excited that I took a whole roll of photos just of inside the plane and the air hostesses! Needless to say my dad wasn’t so impressed when he had to get the film developed.
Now, my favorite pastime I would have to say is to get on a plane and travel to new destinations and experience new cultures. Probably a good thing that I married a pilot!!
I also have always found exercise and playing sport gives me much more energy and I certainly get that feel good serotonin release when I exercise (which I am sure my family always appreciates). If my husbands senses I am getting stressed, he now INSISTS I go to the gym!!!
Professionally, sport has helped me to be focused and to never give up! Believe in yourself and support others! It has also taught me that you need to put the effort in to get results.
Do you think playing sports played a role in helping you decide to become a business owner? How did it help you to make this leap from working as a physiotherapist at a clinic?
I definitely think the mind set of being an athlete helps you have the courage, confidence and ambition to be a business owner. In the last 2 years, I have started up a business in a completely new industry, so I really feel it is like learning a new sport. You have to be coachable, have a good mentor and know that there maybe some times of failure along the way. In sport I have always wanted to win and be the best, and I certainly think this do or die attitude is what gives you that killer instinct in business as well. I have set my goals on where I want to be in this business and I wont give up until I am at the top.
I remember when I was 11 years old, I didn’t make the top regional netball team. I was devastated!! I had on my bedroom wall (and in my mind) for the previous 2 years that I was going to make the Queensland team and of course if I couldn’t even make the top regional team this was going to be very difficult task. Even my biggest supporter, my mum, didn’t think I could do it. I don’t think I have ever been more determined in my life. I even decided to miss the family vacation in the beautiful Whitsundays so I could stay home and train. It was one of the best phone calls I have ever made when I called my mum and told her I had got into my first Queensland netball team!! Getting into that team was definitely against the odds but I knew I could do it!
Being an athlete and a business owner I believe often requires the same skills / traits of goal-setting and determination.
How would you define an “entrepreneurial mindset”? What are the 2-3 most crucial sporting mindset and skills that you bring to running your own business?
You need to be focused, dedicated, determined, and be prepared to take risks and sacrifice things. I started up my physio clinic when I was quite young and single in HK and didn’t have a lot of financial backing. In fact, all my savings and then some were put into the set up of the clinic. So for the first 2 years, I was getting a very minimal salary whilst I was building up the business. Most of this had to go to my rent!! I saw my friends go on these great holidays and expensive nights out whilst I was really counting every penny I had and just eating in. What I have learnt though, is that the early sacrifices were definitely worth it for the rewards you reap in later years.
Family and friends were shocked and thought I was a little crazy to sacrifice my successful physio career to start my own online health business, but again, it was something I was very passionate about I always thrive on challenge. I am one of those people who say “why not” instead of “why”.
Both as a sportswoman and business owner, you know that things don’t come easily and you have to work hard. There will be good times and times you will struggle, but if you persevere and persist and always keep the big picture in mind, you will succeed.
Netball player, physiotherapist and business-owner aside, you’re also a mother. You must be quite busy juggling all of these different aspects of your life. How do you manage it?
Having always been a busy person, I have had to be good with managing my time. I don’t like to waste time and I don’t go to bed until I have done everything on my list for that day.
Likewise, if I know I am going to have a very busy day, I make sure I get up extra early to ensure I fit my exercise in. I find exercising in the morning gives me energy and sets me up for the right mindset for the rest of the day.
I am very lucky also as my business now allows me to work from home so I have the flexibility of fitting my work in between my children’s school and sporting commitments.
Having this flexibility is, I think why more people are choosing home based businesses these days. I believe statistics now are in Australia 1 in 8 people have a home based business and in Asia it is even higher with 1 in 6 having a home based business. Working from home not only allows you to have the flexibility of choosing your own hours, but it also takes away the stress of having to cover a rental space each month.
I am in a home based business, but I love how I can work from different locations every day if I chose. If it is lovely weather outside, I take my computer up to the pool. Definitely can’t beat that for an office location!
In January 2017, WISE HK ran an informal survey, where some mothers said limited time and having to care for family was the biggest barrier to sports participation. What words of advice do you offer to them to be able to incorporate a little bit of sports into their routine?
As a mum, I still feel there is no excuse not to find the time for exercise. If you are at your children’s sporting activity, perhaps you can find a space to go for a walk / run instead of maybe just sitting and waiting. A playground actually is the perfect place to do some exercises while your kids are playing. You can use the seat to do some step ups and tricep dips and the monkey bars are always a great challenge. Playing chase around the park with your children is also a great way to get some exercise in whilst spending fun, quality time with them.
If mums are struggling to get out of the house to exercise, there are some extremely good fitness apps / programs that you can do in the privacy of your own home that only last 20-30 minutes. These can be done before the kids wake up or after they have gone to bed at night. My husband and I do the ROMWOD workout every night which is a great way of spending time with each other but also relaxing as well.
We always seem to find time in the day to sit and have a coffee, or look through Facebook so I feel we can always find time to fit in some sort of exercise.
For people who don’t exercise, perhaps an issue of priority rather than time.