My Entrepreneurial Journey So Far: It's Been An Incredible Personal Growth

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When you hear the word "Entrepreneurship", I bet what first comes to your mind is the concept of "starting and growing a business". I don't think anyone expects it to be the story of personal growth. 

image: changeyourgamebealeader.com
For me, my four years entrepreneurial journey has been more of an incredible personal growth than growing a business.

At the start, disregarding the many smaller reasons, the main reason I resigned my telecoms job and started UrBizEdge was that I wanted to be my own boss and being an entrepreneur was one of my life goals. It is not two reasons but two sides of the same coin/reason.

So in April 2014, my entrepreneurial journey started. Though, I had been preparing intensely for it for over a year, even almost resigned in 2013 to start until a mentor advised me to first register the company, buy most of what I needed to run the business and save enough to get through the first year if no profit in the first year. God bless him! It was what I saved that got me through my first year.

I became the one man army: I did all the marketing, all the admin work, all the actual (operational/project) work promised the client, all the customer support, all the accounting/tax work and all the product development. I built up content for my online training classes. Wrote books to sell on Amazon and give as training reference materials. Built VBA programs for clients. Did the organizing and teaching for every training contract we won. I was basically working like a mad man or someone on drugs.

After a while, life became very stressful and the whole running my own business looked like I was just burying myself under heaps of non-ending work. I would work and not have time to go chasing for the payment. Then when I tried chasing for payment, I would end up with extra work and time wasting meetings. I knew I had to do something about the new life I have worked myself into -- one that is fast becoming a miserable life.

I was earning more money than I ever did working as an employee but I was not having a life at all. Just work, work, work. 

That was how my first two years were like.

In my third year, I started to put more structure into how I did things. I started learning more about the business side of running a business instead of reading just technical books and becoming technically better. I began finding out that if I left myself at the mercy/control of the clients, I would be back to what it was like in paid employment -- being overused by others without adequate compensation. So I started saying NO more often. Would turn down projects to go practice French in Porto Novo. Started doing daily french classes in Alliance Fran├žaise. Snatched my life from others' grip. 

Then I started building a team. First tried using the remote approach. A flexible team that doesn't have to be holed together in an office. It didn't work. I just ended up with more work -- doing the actual work and teaching the team how to do them and having to communicate (the tedious part of it all) with the team. 

So I gave up on the remote team option.

Now I have a physical team. Full-time staff. And it's working fine. Way better than the remote team option. I still do a lot of work but gradually I am shifting more work to them. We are now having proper division of labour. And I am now able to do proper business structuring.

I have been reading up on operations management, building a business that can work without me and books that coach one on how to have a properly structured business. Also, I am now better at client engagement. No more letting the client dictate all the terms and starting work without clear direction and cost agreement. 

Why then did I say it's been more of a personal growth than business growth?

It is because in the sea of businesses that exist, mine is not any spectacular. I know people who earn more than our entire revenues as their salaries. And I don't mean expats or MDs of big companies, I mean regular guys with same years of work experience as me working in non management roles in big organizations. So nothing incredible yet about my company. Rather, most of the growth has been personal. 

These past four years have made me a radically changed man. More a man. I say and do whatever I want to do without worrying about pissing off anyone. No office politicking. I see a great idea, I implement it. Nobody to seek approval from. I work hard for everything I earn, so I am less inclined to live up to anyone's standard. 

I have seen videos I created for fun generate me over $5,000 passive income. I have seen a book I hurriedly put together last year Christmas break period generate me over $1,000 free real money. I have seen a trial project to vet developers for my stocks analysis app generate sales of up to N900,000/month and a 10% profit. In short, I have seen that results don't come from show-off or hype or sweet talk or big talk or the scintillating idea. Results come from doing and tweaking. Again and again.

My entrepreneurial journey has forced me to grow in ways nothing else would have triggered. I have found what I am obviously good at (technical stuff, teaching and reading), what I am surprisingly good at (wining projects, business communication and strategy), what I am horrible at (price negotiation, strongman tactics that deliver big bucks in business and human resource management), and what I completely avoid (partnerships, investor funding and having a board). 

It's been no easy journey but I am glad I embarked on it.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks a lot Michael, I must say I have missed your writings. Still a fan. Haha...

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