Subhash Sharma is Principal, Business Adviser, Coach and Mentor at Bronte Bay CPA Professional Corporation in Toronto. As a successful entrepreneur he has come a very long way from his humble beginnings in Jalandhar in Punjab State of India. His journey to success however was not all roses and infect it was a big roller coaster ride. He saw very high peaks during his career but also a number of very deep valleys coming out of which was a big challenge. Having seen life to its fullest in its various shades makes Subhash a man of steel.
Subhash was born in 1957 in a traditional Hindu family in Jalandhar. His Father Mr. B. N. Sharma was an army officer working for B.S.F (Border Security Force) a paramilitary force charged with guarding India’s land border during peace time. His mother Mrs. D. Sharma was a home maker and took care of five children. Subhash has three brothers Vijay, Rajesh and Rakesh; all of them business men, and one sister Rita who was married in a business family.
First ten years of Subhash’s life were very tough growing up with grandparents in a village which lacked even the very basic necessities. His parents were always travelling on government assignments so they could not take good care of him. He went to a government elementary school in the village which could hardly be described as a school in modern terms.
However he was lucky to go to BSF Boys Higher Secondary School in Jalandhar. This was a boarding school with full military training and he had best time of his life. Training in a military environment instilled in him the highest values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honour, integrity and personal courage. These values guide his actions and decisions even today in the business environment.
After finishing high school Subhash went to D.A.V College Jalandhar which is a premium education institution in the city. Because of his high grades he was once again lucky to get admission in the pre-medical program with full scholarship for schooling, books and meals. However after few months he figured out that medicine was not his desired field and he dropped out of the college.
Meanwhile his elder brother Vijay had started his business and encouraged Subhash to go in business. So after trying his hands on a few small things Subhash went in with full force into manufacturing of packaging material for exporters at the age of nineteen. Jalandhar is a little town with lots of small manufacturers and exporters of hand tools and sporting goods and Subhash’s business flourished.
Within three years he learned enough about exports so he decided to move to Bombay (now called Mumbai) and started his own export business. Mumbai is the financial hub of India and has a major sea port and air port and well established banking system. Subhash’s merchant export business flourished and led to imports and he had the opportunity to travel to a number of countries in Middle East, Asia, Europe and Americas. He also got chance to visit a number of cities in India for procuring various materials. During this time he developed friendship with Mr. M. Punjabi who became a lifelong best friend.
In 1987 Subhash married to Ritu, a Naturopath and final Homeopathic Medical student, in a marriage arranged by parents. At the time of his marriage Subhash was travelling almost 80% of the time which was not sustainable for the newlyweds. So he decided to change his career and was looking for his next opportunity.
In recent years Subhash’s company had started to supply imported food items to Indian army and he had developed good contacts with the people in Ministry of Defence through his friends and associates Mr. S. Sharma and Mr. M. Sahni. Mr. Sahni introduced Subhash to late Dr. J. Mohan who was lawyer by profession and worked for JAG (Judge Advocate General) department of India Army. Mr. Mohan also became a long time friend and encouraged Subhash to move to New Delhi.
New Delhi is capital of India and seat of power and head quarter for defence forces. During next two years Subhash tried to bid on various projects for the Ministry of Defence but soon discovered that this was not a good fit based on his values and ethics, so he decided to give up. Meanwhile he tried to re-establish his merchant export business in New Delhi which was a total disaster. During this time between military supplies and merchant exporting Subhash had lost all his money and came under a lot of debt. Only good thing which happened in this time was that Ritu and Subhash had a very sweet daughter, Ruchi.
In 1992 Vijay, Subhash’s elder brother encouraged him to move to Dubai and work with him in his export/ import business. Being in bad shape Subhash jumped on this opportunity and moved to Dubai with Ritu and 2 year old Ruchi. Next three years were good as Subhash was able to recover all his losses and pay off all his debts. This was the time when USSR broke up and lots of new opportunities emerged for exporting various items to new countries especially Estonia.
Dubai is a great place with lots of manmade wonders of the world. Life was quite good but it was not fulfilling as one could never become citizen and could not buy property at that time. Also there were no universities at that time and even though their daughter Ruchi was only five years old at the time but they were thinking she has to go to a different country for higher education.
Along came a family friend, Mr Chadda, who worked as a diplomat all his life and decided to retire in Canada. They discussed their concerns casually and he suggested they move to Canada as this is the best country in the world. The things moved very quickly from there; Subhash and Ritu submitted their application for immigration, came for a visit to Toronto and got their immigration all within four months.
Here is the fun part; when they came for a visit in September it was fall in Canada; beautiful weather, changing colour of leaves; it appeared to be land of fairy tales. However, they went back to wrap up their affairs and came back as official landed immigrants on December 05, and what a surprise, the old man winter was already here and season’s first big snow storm hit the same night.
They checked into a motel in Mississauga (a suburb of near Toronto) and started looking for a rental apartment but no rental building would accept them as tenants as they had no “credit”. Subhash had two international credit cards with big credit limits but that was not good enough for the landlords and he had no idea what “credit” means. Finally the gentleman who helped them with immigration papers introduced him to his accountant who had a client who had an apartment to rent in Brampton. Once the housing problem was solved his attention was now focused on establishing the business.
With the help of their new accountant friend they established their first company. Meanwhile their first shipment of goods arrived and what a shock; nobody in the market wanted what he wanted to sell. The next few months were a nightmare as all his life experience and his business savvy appeared to be a waste. Nobody wanted to hire him as he had no Canadian experience and all his fifteen years worth of export, import and business experience was totally worthless.
So they decided to go back to India thinking that they made a big mistake in coming to Canada. And within five months of coming to Canada they actually left the country. However, when they got to India they could not settle there. Also their daughter received a letter from her school in Canada in which the teacher and all students had signed and sent her best wishes. They were so touched that they decided to give another try to Canada and four months later they were back here.
This time a friend of friend was selling a restaurant and since they didn’t have many options decided to jump into it. For the next four months Subhash and Ritu were cooking (with no cooking experience), waiting tables, washing dishes and crying. Their daughter was totally neglected as they had to work 12 hours a day. What a horrible life, this is not what they bargained for. So once again his pride came in the way and they decided to give up and go back to India and soon they left, losing all the money invested in the restaurant.
However once again they could not settle in India and made him wonder what they should do with their life. Finally, he decided to kill his pride and come back to Canada and this time decided to make it work no matter what. This time he was determined to do whatever it takes to settle down. Also meanwhile they had already wasted all the money in travelling back and forth. So he ended up in a temp agency called Kelly Services who sent him for survival jobs for next three months.
Meanwhile he kept on looking for opportunities and luckily landed a three month contract position with a wireless company in Scarborough as a recruiter which was extended by another three months. This changed his life for the better as he made some decent amount of money and also his contract allowed him to develop his own business on the side.
Thus Global Group a consulting company providing services in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) was born. Luckily for him, during his two trips to India, despite all odds he had managed to make some new contacts one of which came very handy for this new consulting business. So his business flourished and he did extremely well for next few years. His wife was a big help in developing and sustaining this business. During this time he decided to join MBA program in Athabasca University and in 1999 their son Manav was born.
So life was very good until the dot.com bust happened in 2001 and again he was on the road looking for his next opportunity. He had already finished his MBA with IT Management but nobody was hiring in 2001 and 2002. That is when he joined a government program called Professionals in Transition and met his associate Mr. M. Erickson who is CA and has been in public accounting practice for about 40 years. Mr. Erickson became a mentor and lifelong best friend.
In 2003 he joined Mr. Erickson in his accounting practice and during next few years completed his CMA (Certified Management Accountant) designation. In 2007 he acquired accounting practice from a retiring CA and has been steadily growing and building his client base. In April 2014 the three accounting bodies CA, CMA and CGA merged to form CPA designation and he setup Bronte Bay CPA Professional Corporation www.brontebay.com. Bronte Bay provides accounting, taxes and business advice focused on personalized, professional service. In addition to three associates and two consultants his wife helps as administrator.
In Jan 2014 he started Immigrant Times online magazine which was set up as a social enterprise helping new and potential immigrants. His young son who was 14 years old at that time helped him setup the website and social media. Website was officially launched in Nov 2014 and as of June 2015 they had over 6500 subscribers. In addition about 4,000 fans had liked them on social media. Website was being managed by a professional webmaster and Mr. V. John, a magazine veteran, who was working as Executive Editor on volunteer basis. However, by September 2015, with a very heavy heart, Subhash decided to shelve this project as it was taking a lot of his personal attention and his accounting practice was suffering in the process.
Subhash is thankful to God to give him an opportunity to settle down in one of the most beautiful countries in the world where the people are so friendly and you feel safe, respected and valued. He is grateful to his wife for being so understanding, to his daughter who had to sacrifice a lot during their struggle and his son who helped with his social media setup. He is also thankful to his friends and family who supported him and gave him respect during his good times and bad. On his part he has made a mission for his life to help as many people as he can in their immigrant journey and to that end he volunteers through various organizations. He is proud to be a Canadian.
Message for entrepreneurs:
This is a wonderful world with equal opportunity for anybody who is willing to work very hard and adapt to new circumstances. It is not about who you are or where you came from but who you become which determines your success. Wish you the best of luck and amazing success in your entrepreneurship journey.