Last year in the month of March, I told my colleagues and boss that I would be quitting after the end of that month. That it would be my last month at the job and as an employee. I would be going on my own as a Microsoft Excel consultant. Not everyone believed. "Michael, obviously, has gotten a new job and just doesn't want us to know."
Now it is one year on. Today marks exactly one year since I last received a salary. And I can tell you that it has been a journey nothing adequately prepared me for. I have gone this far (which isn't so far, yet) because I determined to stay in the game; I kept moving on regardless of my shortcomings and the circumstances I faced. I am still standing because, like riding a bicycle, I never stopped moving.
Being an entrepreneur is not an act of genius or reserved for people with a special personality. It is simply a decision, and more of a personal decision than a career decision. The truth is that there is nothing being a full-time entrepreneur will give you that being employed won't give you. You will always know that someone with the kind of life you dream of and who is an employee. You will always see a path you can follow to getting all the money and professional goals you want that won't require quitting your job and being a full-time entrepreneur. In fact, you can always be an entrepreneur without quitting your job. You can grow a business without quitting your day job. And starting a business full-time in Nigeria is like tilling a mine field. Even when you want to do the right thing there is no adequate information to guide you. I am still yet to file my last year business returns and I have been trying to get the right way to go about it since last year November. I asked the FIRS guys at the tax office I pay my monthly VAT; they couldn't point me in the right direction. I tried contacting small accounting and auditing firms. The rigor of just trying to do the things that shouldn't be a big issue is almost as more as the actual revenue generating work I do.
But the journey has been a great one for me. I like the changes it is forcing to make and the man it is turning me into. I am now less loath to partnering with people and delegating tasks. I am also now more attuned to spotting business opportunities and thinking like a big business man. I am also more less afraid of making mistakes or spending more on unsure projects/plans. I am now getting used to the fact that I might make more in one day than I have made in the previous six months. I am also doing the things I am very good at and enjoy. I am able to focus on learning only the things I intend to use and being at the forefront of the technology that matters to me.
What I consider the greatest excitement of being an entrepreneur is that I can steer myself more easily in the direction I want to go without needing the approval of anyone. I can take big business bets. I can experience the thrill of gaining and losing and gaining. I can use to the maximum extent my knowledge and skills. It has given me a platform to prove to myself and the world that my ideas can work.
Also today last year, I got an award from Microsoft as the only Microsoft Excel MVP in Nigeria (and Africa, then - not sure if anyone else has gotten in Africa). Today I will know if I have earned enough reputation to be given the award again (it is a yearly award to less than 200 people in the whole world). I hope I have.
Finally, I want to say a big thank you to everyone of you who has been with me since the start of this entrepreneurial journey. You sent me mails of concern and congratulations when you got the news of my quitting my job. You constantly send me occasional mails of encouragement. And best of all you stayed around. I am most grateful to God and then to you. Thanks!