One of the most inspiring movies is “The Pursuit of Happyness”. There are several wonderful quotes from the movie but my favorite is:
“You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves; they want to tell you, ‘you can’t do it’. You want something, go get it. Period.”
How often do we find ourselves staring at blank walls or outside the window; perhaps metaphors to where we are heading in life?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to have a job, have the means to pay the bills and for some, live a comfortable life.
If you are fresh from college, having work experience in a structured environment is good for you. You can apply the theories and principles you learned in school, collaborate on projects with more experienced people and compete with others who want the same things you do.
Most importantly, working in a 9-to-5 grind exposes you to live “on the other side”. If you want to learn how to manage, you must first learn how it is to be managed.
But for those with greater ambition or an unexplained zeal for the unknown a question perpetually hangs over their heads:
“Is this all there is to it?”
Creativity cannot be contained within four walls. It seeks escape in order to flourish. And people who are creative need an outlet to release the energy that is building inside them. Creativity is borne out of inspiration. Concrete walls do not encourage inspiration but exploration does.
This is why people who become entrepreneurs crave exploration and discovery. It is all about charting unknown waters and finding inspiration in strange and beautiful places.
But how do we transition from a 9-to-5 desk job to a career that allows us to see the world and generate income?
Commit to living your dream.
I have been on both sides of the fence. After college, I worked in the concrete jungle for 15 years.
I enjoyed my life as a regular employee. I met many wonderful people who helped me develop as a worker and as a person. And I also encountered unsavory personalities who would do whatever it took to stay ahead in the game.
These experiences shaped me into who I am and influenced my decision to eventually follow my entrepreneurial dreams. It made me realize that I could never contain my desire to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to have more control over my career and find financial independence.
Let me make this very clear: having a job that allows you to see the world, manage your hours and earn a good income is still WORK. You have obligations to your client, creditors and others in the value chain.
For three years I lived a life of luxury and comfort. My company had just celebrated its third anniversary and the horizon looked bright and promising. I was able to give my family everything that they needed and more.
I purchased a 450 square meter lot in an exclusive high- end subdivision for $170,000. My housing loan for $200,000 had been approved. A man’s house is his castle and I finally had the means to build one.
Then on November 2012, one call changed my life. My biggest client terminated our contract. It was a publicly- listed company and the board of directors wanted to change course.
Without that client, we would not be able to sustain the company. Everything spiraled from there. My business partners opted to shutter operations. I had to start a new business from scratch and get income coming in by 2013.
By March 2013, the new company was running. Instead of a brick and mortar model, I went online to reduce costs. Even though I worked from home, I hardly had time to spend with my family.
We had our annual vacations but I still had to meet deadlines, maintain the quality of work and fulfill responsibilities required to keep the business going. It’s not all “Margaritas” beside the poolside or having a “Mai Tai” overlooking the ocean.
The hours will be long, the tasks could be grueling. There will be stressful, often tense meetings with clients; but you still need to get things done.
After three years, we had signed up more than 30 clients. The worse is over and while cocktails by the poolside are still few and far between, I can enjoy a beer fortnightly in the comforts of my home.
Test the waters
The only way to avoid confinement is by plying your trade in the virtual world. Start an online business that provides products and services which don’t need sharing a physical location with the customer.
There are several great ideas but not all of them will succeed. You can come up with the best business plan but the only sure way to know if your business will succeed is to run it.
Many successful entrepreneurs started working on their business ideas while still in college. They used college as a testing ground for their concepts and systems. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as a community network for Harvard.
Other businesses that were started while the founders were in college were Microsoft, Napster, Netscape, FedEx and Apple. These are highly-successful, well known brands today but they had their share of struggles when they were launched.
So start out slow. If you have a day job, keep it as your steady source of income until your business starts to gain traction.
The biggest problem confounding entrepreneurs is using the credit card to finance their business. If the expected cash flow does not materialize, they end up in serious financial trouble.
A bad credit rating will affect your business as it will make it difficult for you to get payment terms with vendors or suppliers.
If you do not have a day job, get investors or a partner for your business. The business plan will help sell the viability of your venture.
If you plan to manage your business from remote locations, make sure you are well-versed with the advantages of technology. In truth you only need a smart phone and a laptop.
But you should have the programs in place to get your business running smoothly:
- Collaboration. Organizes everything you need in your business. Among the most popular ones are Asana and DropBox.
- Communication. Allows you to connect with clients and team members. Standard programs include Skype and Viber.
Best of all, these programs are for free!
Make sure your laptop and smartphone are upgraded with the latest software. These tools are your bread and butter; invest in getting them in fine working condition.
Hire virtual assistants
Entrepreneurs have a difficult time learning this very important lesson: You cannot run everything on your own.
The absence of confinement does not exclude you from attending to the many other areas of responsibility that managing a business entails. These so-called “non-essential tasks” such as calendar management, e-mail filtering, and accounting are essential to keep your business running smoothly.
But you should not spread yourself too thin. The best option is to hire virtual assistants who have the experience and expertise to manage these non-essential tasks.
Most importantly, hiring virtual assistants will not break your budget. They are paid per productive hour and you are not required to pay benefits.
I reserved the most important tip for last:
Go get it done
It’s one thing to dream and another thing to do. Once you have covered all the bases, stuff your backpack, see the world and live your dream!