Taylor Dunn doesn’t believe in settling. That’s why, after four years at a job he didn’t love, he turned away from the family business in pursuit of something more.
He’d been following in his father’s footsteps — working to open an insurance office — because he saw the freedom his dad had from owning his own business. After university, he worked at his brother-in-law’s office but Taylor always had the same endgame in mind: to start up an office of his own.
In early 2016, an opportunity came, but Taylor’s heart was no longer in the insurance industry. It was time to become an entrepreneur on his own terms.
Below, Taylor tells O2E Brands how he listened to his gut, changed his course, and found the opportunity of a lifetime.
Stepping away from the family business must have been a tough decision. What drove you to make the leap?
TD: For my parents’ generation, the thinking was “get a job and stick to it.” There wasn’t a lot of mobility. Now, people are realizing it’s more about enjoying what you do. Sure, making a living is a nice benefit but you have to be passionate about what you’re doing.
And that’s one of the hardest parts for people at my age: trying to figure out what they want to do. I’m a strong believer in never settling for something that makes you miserable.
O2E: Going from the insurance business to a home-service brand like Shack Shine is quite a change — tell us how you ended up in house detailing.
TD: After four and a half years working with my brother-in-law, the opportunity I’d been waiting for opened up. But I realized insurance just wasn’t something I was enjoying and it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term.
So I broke it down and asked myself: what do I really want to do? I still wanted to do my own thing but I needed the right opportunity. I love being outside (and had previously worked in outdoor jobs) so I started exploring my options in that space.
I found Shack Shine on LinkedIn. I’d never really considered franchising as a possibility but the branding caught my eye and stuck with me. When I found out the territory I wanted was available, I really started thinking. I could join a globally recognized company, own my own business, and stay in my hometown. It was a no-brainer and the timing was right.
O2E: How did you come up with the start-up capital?
TD: I grew up as a saver. My dad, being in financial services, instilled that in me from a young age. I started working as a dishwasher in grade 8 and my dad made sure I saved a portion of every paycheque. I did the same through university and afterwards, as well.
So the majority of the investment for the franchise came from my wife and I — it was all the cash we had saved. I’m also fortunate enough to be in a position that my parents could help out, as well. The rest came from a line of credit.
O2E: So you’re a young Millennial and suddenly you own a business. What kind of challenges did you face in the beginning?
TD: I really had to put my nose to the grindstone. I had very little management experience in my jobs before and there are a ton of unknowns in business ownership (like marketing, accounting, and human resources). It’s pretty overwhelming at first.
I’m also now in a hiring position and I’ve learned how important it is to have committed people who see your vision. My dad has staff members who have been with him for 30 years and I think, How do you keep people excited to come in and do a good job for you? That’s the biggest challenge: finding and keeping good people. I’m trying to build my business with great people so we can provide the best customer service experience possible.
O2E: Sounds like there was quite a steep learning curve. Did you have the support you needed?
TD: Absolutely. Everyone has been so helpful. The company wants us to succeed and gives us the tools to do it.
I’ve never felt like I’m on my own in this — everyone is there to help us grow. My success is their success too.
O2E: What do you see for 2017?
TD: We’re full steam ahead. It’s only been six months and we love seeing the growth. We have a lot of goals in the works, like getting a second van on the road.
I’ve put everything I have into this business. It’s definitely a risk, but taking the leap is the biggest part — once you’re on the line, you’re not going to stop until you’ve built something successful. It lights the fire under you to keep going.