February 25, 2024

Shital Daftari is Founder and CEO of Saris and Things and SNT Biotech. An award-winning entrepreneur, Shital has earned a top spot on WPO’s ‘50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies of 2022’ and ranks #264 on ‘Inc 5000 America’s Fastest-Growing Companies’ list.
Have you had an idea for the longest time, but keep waiting for your ducks to align? What is really holding you back from starting? What if I told you the right time to go after that dream, big project or business that you’ve always wanted to start is NOW?
Your first thought, no doubt, would be “I really want to do this, but I have no idea where to start.” I know this, because ten years ago, I was in this same spot. I founded my first business with a small investment and a big dream—and grew this into a company with annual revenues of over $31 million. And I did this within ten years.
In 2011, I was stuck in an unfulfilling job that paid too little. I knew I needed to change my life. I had a feeling I should start a business, but my ideas were vague. My brother was getting married around this time and I wanted to look fabulous for the occasion. I was unable to go to India to purchase a sari, so I searched online for a company providing Indian clothing rentals. I found none.
I recognized opportunity and took a leap of faith to start an online service renting and selling designer Indian outfits for weddings and gala events. In 2020, I quickly pivoted to start a second company under the name SNT Biotech and began selling PPE and Covid test kits, along with other medical supplies—and became the leading national supplier and distributor of VTM Kits, PCR Test kits and Rapid Antigen Test kits to laboratories and hospitals across the U.S.
Strategies for success in business and in life.
This was all possible because I took the first step in the right direction. Then the next step showed up.
Taking the first step is the most important part of the process. If you want to change your life but don’t know where to start…if it looks too daunting…if you cannot see the whole picture yet…you must take even the smallest of actions to move towards your goal.
It could be as simple as making one phone call. If you can’t bring yourself to write the whole book, start with writing one chapter, or even one page. When you take the first step, you will see the next step, and soon things will fall into place.
Because risk and opportunity are two sides of the same coin, the best opportunities are often disguised as risks. Learn to take calculated risks and you will find the path to success.
Quitting my job was the scariest thing I could do. I struggled to build capital from my personal funds and later had to charge medical products to my credit cards to keep up with the demand of orders. But instead of focusing on all that could go wrong, I envisioned what could go right.
Deliberately choosing businesses with barriers to entry and hard-to-find products contributed to my success. I persevered through approval processes and compliance regulations where others did not. I explored avenues to import items from international suppliers even when the outcome was uncertain.
What is the next big thing you can do that other people can’t—or won’t? Given the choice, most will take the easy route. Because I chose projects with more risk, I faced less competition and succeeded in a big way.
The day you’re not working to grow your business, you’re moving backwards.
Although I was running a successful online clothing rental business, I was always thinking six months ahead. What will be the next big thing? What will people be looking for? What will be in demand?
When Covid-19 was identified in China in early 2020, I read how N95 masks could protect against the virus but were hard to find. Because I was in the mindset to see ahead, I knew this product would be in great demand—especially if Covid spread to the U.S.
At the same time, I watched as every one of my orders for sari rentals cancelled. That’s when I started looking to source face masks. In April 2020, my company became one of the first sellers on Amazon to sell face masks and join as part of the solution to combat the virus. We stayed ahead of the trends in 2021 to become a top supplier and distributor of Covid PCR collection kits and rapid antigen test kits, as well as PPE and other lab consumables.
Every morning ask yourself, ‘What is the one thing that I can do that will take me closer to my goals?’ Less is more. Don’t try to win every game. Choose what will make the most impact and give it your best.
In the book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, author Gary Keller explains that success comes from focusing on the most important activity that will support your goals. He challenges us to decide ‘What is the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’ Until this ONE thing is done, everything else is a distraction.
As I pivoted from clothing to medical products, the business grew into many product lines. I quickly eliminated products that were not selling and remained laser-focused on those that were. This kept room open for new opportunities.
When building a business, you can’t expect to know everything. You need to lean into your network, hire experts and surround yourself with like-minded people. While it may seem ideal to fill your network with supportive people who cheer you on, it’s also necessary to have in your circle those who challenge you to sharpen your skills and grow.
It can feel lonely at the top for professional women, and I’m grateful for the organizations that help me continue to grow as a leader. As a member of C200, I’m surrounded by women with similar aspirations and goals—a network that can relate to what I’m going through. C200 also allows me the opportunity to collaborate with, celebrate and give back to other women through their many programs and mentorship opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to dream big. The biggest mistake people make in life is not setting their goals high enough. In his book The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone cautions that “failing to think big in the beginning will lead to failing to act big.”
Another common mistake is to underestimate how much effort is required for success; you must work with the same grit and passion as the first day you started. According to the book, be prepared to take actions that are 10X greater than what you believe are necessary to achieve your goals.
Still others procrastinate acting on their dreams because of a fear of failure. If you approach your goal thinking that with hard work, it can be done, you will figure it out. As Grant Cardone rightly put it, “Stop dreaming about life being easy. Go out and earn it!”


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