It’s been over a decade since I decided to move on from the usual corporate rat race. Fortunately, setting up four entities along the way did not seem like a lot of effort. Here’s a list of my top learnings from the journey so far. Not going down the predicted route of ‘follow your passion’ or ‘treat your people well’ or ‘work your ass off’ for obvious reasons.
If you don’t know where to start, start anywhere
Often, people don’t start something that they are passionate about because they don’t know where to start. Instead of waiting for that ‘right moment’ to start, begin with anything that is in the direction of your goal. Doesn’t matter if its big or small. Just start. If you are working for someone and have always had the itch to start something of your own, the day you wake up and say “Damn, I have to go to work today” is the day you ‘start’.
If you don’t know how to do it, try doing what you can and ask someone to help you out
Never do everything by yourself. More than that, never be afraid to ask someone for help. Working with people who are willing to fill in with their expertise where required is a great way to optimise your time with what you do best. Do not attempt to code, if you don’t know how to do it. You are wasting constructive time.
Money is not always the motivator
We would all love to make a lot more and in some cases, you have started on your own for one reason and one reason only – make money. Don’t be disillusioned by that motivator. Sooner or in most cases, later, you will realise it’s not the best motivating factor. Then what else is? It’s enjoying what you do to the extent that you feel guilty of making money for having fun.
If its important enough, you’ll make time for it
There are times when you are confused to prioritise your activities. Sometimes everything seems important and other times, nothing is. Remember, this is not just about your work. Balancing work-life is the most important aspect for your overall growth and it has a definitive impact with what you are doing. Being ‘busy’ all the time means you are not doing it right. Do not skip a close friend’s birthday party because you had a deadline to finish that evening. If it’s important enough, you’ll make time for it.
If you are tired, take a timed break
Don’t kill yourself with work. As they say, hard work never killed anyone, but why take the risk? When exhausted, there’s nothing like a planned break. Planned, because for one, it feels like an incentive to complete the immediate tasks, and, two, you are able to make the necessary changes to manage your absence and not check work email while you nurse that beer on the beach.
Never get anything done for free
Chances are you need a lot of help while setting up. Do pay. Pay in kind, in cash, in shares…just pay. Don’t go, “I am a start up, I cannot afford your service, can you do it for free?” Not because there won’t be accountability for something that’s free, but because karma works twice as fast these days. If you know what I mean.
If you believe that you can do it, you will
Yes you can. Apart from the help you get from your circle of influence, there will always be an equal (if not more) set of influencers who are always trying to pull you down. “Don’t do it man, it won’t work”. If that’s not a voice in your head, then it ain’t true. Believing that you can, is the first step to achieving what you stepped out to do.
And remember, success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you do, you will be successful.