My Wyndham: Muhammad Taimoor Ashraf,

Muhammad Taimoor Ashraf, aka Tim, at T-Time Australia in Werribee. Photo: Supplied/Imran Abul Kashem, Westend Photography

At 23 years of age, Muhammad Taimoor Ashraf, known to many as Tim, started a business, T-Time Australia, in Werribee during lockdown last year and now has eight employees. He chats with Alesha Capone

You live in Hoppers Crossing?

Yes, I live in Hoppers Crossing and have lived here pretty much my whole life. I studied at The Grange P-12 College and that’s where my love for the area started, I found that everyone was so welcoming and we as a diverse community made this place better. All my friends are from different ethnic backgrounds but growing up together made us more inclusive of each other and having that support made me realise what a great community we have and I have cherished that since the beginning.

What was it like starting a business during the COVID lockdown?

It was very daunting, my job was changing, slowing down and it was all working from home, so this gave me some time to think and analyse the market before starting. However, this had its negatives, such as finding suppliers, delays in construction, finding a perfect location … People were not allowed to meet up, so many meetings were done by video calls.

Did you ever imagine T-Time Australia would become so successful?

To be honest, I didn’t. I remember on our grand opening day, I was thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t think anyone will come,’ but a few minutes before opening, I looked outside and the line was out the door. I was shocked and to be very honest, it was all because our community, my friends and their families had put the word out and had come out to support us.

What do you enjoy about running your business and being based in Werribee?

The best aspect of running a business is being your own boss, you don’t realise this until you start but it’s very liberating and scary at the same time. In terms of our location, I wanted to stay in the Wyndham area as I knew that firstly there was no bubble tea store in Werribee and that’s where my ideal market would be. I also found that other experienced businesses in Werribee helped me in starting up. The best example for that is Westend Photography, Imran (the photographer who runs the business) helped me from day one and he has played a vital role in our setup.

Would you encourage the community to support local businesses in the Werribee town centre?

It’s actually very weird, I only realised this once I started my own business, but we as a community, tend to support bigger franchises such as these big fast food joints, even if we have many bad experiences with them, we still go back and purchase again. However, for small businesses like mine and many others, we are very harsh, we will try them once and if they make a mistake or we have to wait a bit longer, we don’t go there again and then we spread bad reviews about them. One negative review can literally end a business. So I would like to encourage the community to spend more at your local businesses, help them out. We have struggled the most, the money they is not going into big corporations, but instead helping them feed their families.

Do you have any advice for young people wanting to start their own business?

The best advice that I ever got was, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me,’ and I would like to pass this on to everyone. If you have a great idea, then it’s up to you to get it out and start a business. If anyone would like to have a chat or discuss business strategies, I am more than happy to help as well. I want the Wyndham community to have different businesses so that we don’t have to travel far, everything should be available here.