Vandana Semwal was born in India and completed a Master’s in Accounting from Bombay University. She has held various roles in Finance and Accounting before coming to the United States in 1999. During her initial years in the states, she focused on caring for her children and their early education. In 2003, she was exposed to the Montessori education system when her son started preschool and was motivated into pursuing her Montessori teacher’s certification at Collin County.
She has learned a lot about child psychology from taking care of her own children which, along with Montessori education, inspired her to set up a program that ensures every child is cared for and is able to have the best start in his/her life.
Many years of experience in accounting, finance, cash management, sales, purchasing, and auditing helps her run the financial aspects of the business.
Ms. Semwal took over multiple struggling schools and turned them around to be profitable businesses, while also selling some of them to focus on the franchising opportunity. She opened the first Joyous Montessori in 2010 and transitioned that to a franchising model in 2017. Vandana currently manages the Keller location of Joyous Montessori.
Where did the idea for Joyous Montessori come from?
We wanted the name of the school to be simple, something that everyone would like to relate with and signify happiness. The family (me, my husband, son and daughter) together went through various names and finally agreed on Joyous. If I recollect correctly then it was my son who had floated the name first.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts with some morning prayers. Prayer is personally important for my productivity. I then call the school as I like to be always aware of what is happening in my facility. I then take care of the morning family tasks ensuring they all have their breakfast before I head to work. While at work, I am always multi-tasking, watching over the children, teachers, while also listening to and communicating with parents, and thinking about everything that is important for the business. I am very detail-oriented and look after even the smallest aspects that can and will make the school a better place for the children, parents as well as my staff.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have gained a lot of practical knowledge during my many years of experience in business and education. I have an obvious passion for teaching, and this combined with my previous experiences provides me the confidence to not view any challenge as a problem. Every challenge is instead an opportunity to find a solution through critical thinking, analysis and execution. I credit my staff and my family for keeping me motivated and bringing all my ideas to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Various things were offered online for a while, but the COVID-19 virus and subsequent restrictions has brought up almost everything on the web. I am very health conscious; I practice yoga and am very mindful of the food I eat that helps me take care of my health. Taking care of your health is the best gift one can give to themselves. The appearance of health coaches and yoga instructors online really excites me as I can avail their services from the convenience of my house saving me time to drive to their location. School and colleges had to switch to online model on a such short notice and that is something that we will have to watch out for with its extension to non-emergency situations.
While the first phase of online business was concentrated on consumer products its culmination has given us amazon – the next wave online will be on services.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It’s all in the attitude. Success is achieved when you are confident and face everything that comes with a positive outlook. Successful management requires a relentless energy level. I am very passionate for my work, and I almost never take a day off.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If you believe in it, you can make it happen. Remember to keep your eyes on the goal and do not be discouraged, no matter what. Always learn from every situation, good situations give you immediate returns and bad situations prepare you for the long-term success.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Do not drink orange juice when you have a cold. Drink only hot fluids.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I understand that every person is different and keeping this in mind I utilize my resources based on the skills and qualities each one of them have. It is important to find good people, train and retain them for the success of the business. Hire people with the right attitude as everything else can be taught. Take good care of the employees in tough times; with the COVID-19 situation the children’s attendance is down by 80% but we did not layoff any teachers.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Constant learning and adapting to market demand have helped me succeed. I regularly seek ideas and feedback from my staff as well as parents at the school, which along with licensing guidelines helps me provide a program which everyone loves.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Our business partners goals and motivation were not in alignment with ours so during the initial stages, we were focusing more on resolving partnership issues than on the growth of business.
To overcome this situation, we convinced the partners to take a silent role and this helped us substantially grow the business.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would create a shop/service that helps people learn about organic gardening. I have a passion for helping and growing.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I was in India earlier this year and bought presents for my staff and friends. With Rs. 70+ exchange rate for one dollar the $100 went a long way!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use Procare Childcare management software to keep track of all children in the school. It helps us to keep track of enrollments, student’s check-in and check-out and automated tuition collection. The best part is it is on the cloud so I can access it from the school as well as home.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Bhagavad Gita has answers to all my questions and that is where I go to seek guidance whenever I feel stuck in a situation.
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt is another book which every entrepreneur should read. It goes through the personal and professional life scenario and is a book to which everyone can relate to. It defines a goal as one that sets us on a path of ongoing improvement.
What is your favorite quote?
“You are what you believe in. You become that which you believe you can become” – Bhagavad Gita
• If you are confident, you can make it happen
• Set high goals for yourself and for others
• Always focus on the positive rather than on the negative
• Your success is dependent on your staff – hire people who align with your goal
• Seek feedback with an open mind