Why this small business owner left her comfortable job

Arise Studio Health in Northcote has been open for 11 months.
Arise Studio Health in Northcote has been open for 11 months.

The first step was the hardest for Jocelyn Taufika. It meant leaving the security of corporate employment and embracing instability. 

But it also meant pursuing a goal that resonated with her values – something that proved irresistible.

A trained engineer, Taufika had spent the past 10 years working in the oil, gas and mining industry, and only stopped to take a break for maternity leave.

The time off work and the birth of her son Zed encouraged her to question things, and to think about what she valued most in life.

She soon realised that she had always wanted to run her own business – “a product or service that I really believed in, that truly aligned with my values”.

“An eco-conscious, sustainable, non-judgemental, customer-focused business with the ability to give back and contribute to charities,” she tells realcommercial.com.au.

“One that employs truly awesome people and one that I would be seriously proud to be part of.”

Arise Studio Health

Taufika turned her back on the corporate world to follow her passion.

And so, she set up Arise Studio Health (ASH), a group fitness studio in Northcote, in Melbourne’s hipster inner-north, that specialises in reformer and mat pilates, barre and yoga.

Jocelyn found her “urban sanctuary” on realcommercial.com.au and spent two months renovating the space before opening doors to the public.

“It’s easier than you think to get a commercial property, but harder to find a space,” she says of the three-year search.

How to: Find the right property for your business

Another challenge was understanding the terms of the lease. Which is why Jocelyn advises aspiring business owners to ask a professional to look over the contract, before signing on the dotted line. (As do the founders of Think Thornbury.)

According to realcommercial.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee, the lease is often a source of headaches for the roughly 2.2 million small businesses in Australia, especially for those without a clear understanding of their future performance.

“They can sometimes be inflexible and flexibility is important for new businesses,” says Conisbee. “It can be difficult to know how much space you will need in three years, so having some flexibility around lease terms should be an aim.”

Arise Studio Health

Taufika spent months renovating the space to create her vision.

An equally difficult challenge for Jocelyn was obtaining the necessary council permits. That, and telling her family that she was leaving her “great corporate job to teach pilates” – although even that daunting conversation didn’t knock Jocelyn off course.

“My goal for the future is to open another business, or five,” she says, with a chuckle. “Once you’ve done it, you realise it’s not actually as scary as you think.”

Her advice to other would-be business owners?

“Make sure you’re as financially and mentally prepared for the rollercoaster of your first six to 12 months. Be flexible to what the customer wants, but stick to your values and beliefs,” she says.

“Make time to take care of your own health and spend quality time with your loved ones. It’s too easy to work endless hours, drink too much coffee and not sleep enough.”

Find out: How ‘expecting the unexpected’ helped this cafe achieve success