Starting a small business can be described in many ways. But for Nav Bhatia, the Canadian businessman who is nicknamed the Raptors Superfan – after attending every home game from 1995 to 2020 – it’s like planting a tree.
“When you plant a seed, the fruit doesn’t grow right away. You need to be ready for the process,” he explains. “The problem with a lot of people is they want to see immediate results and sometimes that doesn’t happen.”
As the Official Small Business Insurance Partner of the Toronto Raptors, TruShield sat down with Bhatia to learn more about how he started his business and what advice he has for new entrepreneurs.
How it began
Bhatia moved to Canada in 1984 in the midst of anti-Sikh riots in India. He took various jobs to support himself including landscaping, painting, and janitorial services before landing a job as a car salesman.
“I had some speed bumps breaking into car sales. People made fun of me,” Bhatia said. “But it was motivating. I said to myself: ‘Nav, if you want to survive in this country and in this environment, you have to be better than good.’”
He went on to achieve a record 127 car sales in three months before eventually being promoted to a general manager position at another dealership. Now, he owns five dealerships across the Greater Toronto Area including the one where he began his career.
Key tips for running your own business
While running his businesses, Bhatia has learned a lot. He says the most important thing to consider when running a company is having the right insurance.
“There are so many unknown factors when operating a business,” Bhatia explains. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a one-man start-up or a big company, you cannot run a business without insurance.”
Bhatia recalled a time when he had to lean on his commercial insurance policy after experiencing a large leak in one of his buildings.
“With the help of our insurance, we were able to quickly take care of the leak and get back to business,” Bhatia says. “If we didn’t have insurance, it would have sent us backwards.”
The rewards and lessons of entrepreneurship
Bhatia also believes that hiring like-minded people is a vital step in eliminating some of the uncertainty that comes with starting a business. He thinks it’s important to “create an environment of trust” and to “treat employees and customers like your family.”
His commitment to treating his employees like family has led to some of his most rewarding moments as a business owner.
“You need to treat people similarly to how you want to be treated and deliver hard and honest work. My dad used to say there’s no substitute for hard and honest work,” Bhatia says.
That’s not to say you can please everyone. Bhatia’s biggest learning experience was realizing that you can’t please every single customer. But, he says, it’s important that you continue to try.
“Sometimes you hit a wall and you cannot do any more. Most of the time, people appreciate what you’ve done but there’s always one person who wants more,” he says. “I strive to make that customer happy. And that’s the key to my success.”
Bhatia and the Toronto Raptors
When he’s not throwing himself into his businesses, it’s likely you’ll find Bhatia at a Raptors home game. But this wasn’t always the case.
“From 1984 to 1994, I basically worked 110 hours every week. I was a workaholic,” Bhatia says. “When the Raptors arrived here as a franchise, I bought two tickets and said, ‘I’m going to try it for a season and see how it is.’ Because I didn’t have a hobby, my hobby was work, work, and more work. The very first day I went to the game, I fell in love. And the rest is history.”
Now, he’s harnessed the notoriety he’s gained as the Raptors Superfan and channeled it into his own charitable organization, the Nav Bhatia Superfan Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising money to build basketball courts and camps for kids in Canada and across the globe.
Be prepared with TruShield Insurance
As a proud partner of the Toronto Raptors, TruShield has seen firsthand the exceptional community the game has fostered. In the spirit of that community, we’re offering Raptors fans 5 per cent off our small business insurance policies.
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This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply to coverage. See policy for details.
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