I was excited when I recently read an article about a young entrepreneur running a basic but serious business class for children as a school holiday activity.
In the program the students learn marketing strategies and are encouraged to find their own business ideas and ways to make a profit out of them.
I wish I’d had that opportunity when I was a kid – maybe my trajectory as an entrepreneur would be easier.
Apart from being a political refugee, one of the most difficult experiences in my life has been the adventure of being an entrepreneur.
I don’t say this from the point of view of ‘poor me’ but from the point of facing constant challenges that come with starting your own company.
When you have control over your time, you have to rely on self-motivation.
However, waking up at 6 o’clock in the morning, running five kilometres, meditating for 20 minutes and getting ready for the day is not enough.
The tricky part is facing a day that you have to organise yourself, with tasks that only you know are important.
Some of these tasks may include applying for a grant, organising meetings with potential clients, attending meetings previously arranged, calling and writing once again to a client who has not yet considered your product a priority because you know in your your gut that it will be the best thing they do for their organisation.
So, you must transform your mind from creator to marketing expert, and no one tells you that a big part of being an entrepreneur is this.
But the day doesn’t finish there.
You must keep updating your social media and website, design specific presentations for your meetings and talk with ‘experts’ who don’t always give you great advice.
You feel obligated to listen to them anyway because you never can be sure when the right piece of advice is coming from the right contact.
It takes up so much precious time! It is like being a drifting boat looking for a shore to anchor into.
No one tells you that your day will also include anxiety generated from not having a constant income and seeing your savings trend downwards trend, the fear of losing your time and ending up in a job that you don’t like, the stress that you cause your partner when he sees you working so hard and the business is not yet taking off.
Yet he patiently tells you over and over again, “You will make it my love”.
And you hug each other and you say, “I knew that it was going to be difficult”.
The next day starts the same and you keep on repeating to yourself: “I’m doing something great! My program will help others.
“I’m generating employment, I’m leaving a vacant role for a person for whom entrepreneurship is not suitable.”
However, you anticipate having a cramp in your stomach in the middle of the day when you doubt what you’re doing and you think: Maybe I should leave all of this and find a job.
In other words, get a ‘real’ life.
But that real life does not suit everybody.
What should you do when you are a creative person and enjoy developing new ideas?
How can you see yourself in a job that does not meet these expectations?
So, the only solution is listening to yourself. There is no other option.
In fact, sometimes I think that a gift is a blessing and a curse all at once.
Sometime ago my partner and I went to Patagonia for a holiday and we had to cross an isthmus to get to a boat that was going to take us to see the Grey Glacier.
The wind was so strong that our bodies were constantly shoved from one shoreline to another.
I honestly felt that I was going to fly away and drown in the middle of the cold lake at the base of the glacier.
But then I told myself, “Keep on walking, we will get there”.
In contrast to myself, my partner was like Don Quixote fighting against the windmills, in a state of ecstasy, brimming with enthusiasm encouraging me to continue.
When we finally arrived at the boat I reflected deeply on the way I had faced the risk of crossing the isthmus and how I was fighting against the wind rather than working with it.
When I remember that day, I liken it to being an entrepreneur and I think: I have to go with it, I must keep on enjoying this journey, otherwise, I will be always be waiting for the outcomes instead of living the experience of starting my own business.
A a piece of advice to others and myself who are on the same entrepreneurial path: We must keep on going and we must embrace uncertainty.
I don’t know if the final outcome will be good or bad, I don’t know if all this sacrifice is worthwhile but at least let’s enjoy the journey.
And to our partners, friends, potential clients and government, give us all the support you can and please open the door to us.
Because in the long term, we will generate employment and we will change our country from a culture of searching for jobs to a culture that creates exciting opportunities for us and our community.
The journey has already started, let’s just keep on riding.