I’ve been sharing my entrepreneur story a lot recently so I decided I had to publish it here!
Once upon a time I lived the corporate dream. It was fabulous, I was part of THE most exciting thing to ever hit the Middle East (huh, yeah, the brainwashing at Fitness First was good!)
I worked every minute of the day and night and rarely took a weekend. I was loyal, dedicated and proud … The truth was that I was being exploited and underpaid but yet to realise it.
The Business Honeymoon
I was torn between the idea of climbing the corporate ladder or breaking away and doing my own thing. A gentle nudge and a few months later I was lining up clients and handed in my resignation.
I set up my own business called “untitled” – I had a group of other freelancers to complete my team; marketing, PR, design and production. It was great.
In the first month I worked less hours and made more money than I did when I was in my corporate bubble! I worked with small businesses and multinationals – no project was too small. My proudest moment was landing a few events for Deloitte! It was fun but lonely.
My life had taken a massive turn.
I was on my own.
If I didn’t work I didn’t get paid. I had to spend a LOT of my time getting clients and pitching to time wasters day and night. I was always ON.
When I was a Marketing Manager for Fitness First my phone would never stop ringing, friends and acquaintances would call for a cut of my freebies, tickets, spa vouchers, free meals etc … amazing how many of those “friends” wanted to hang out when my freebies disappeared.
I think I had a lot of beginners luck – some months I couldn’t get one tiny design job – nothing. Around the same time John and I were working together at the weekends training Dubai’s corporate elite in the mountains and during the week we were setting up yet another business – it was an addiction.
Things take time, and money.
Again, one scary month after another leads to the downright petrifying. One day I was asked to be in a TV commercial – I laughed and said why not?
It could be fun and the money was good. It was a one off. So I thought. I got more calls from the casting agency – I started doing some lifestyle modelling and they paid well, it was hilarious to see my picture on a billboard and all over the city – it was anything but glamourous – some days I’d want to scream at the stylist who’d make nasty comments and tell her that I have two degrees and launching my 2nd business at 27 but there was no point – I took the job because I needed the money.
Our business was still in it’s infancy – the credit cards were maxed out, bank accounts empty and we would dig between the cushions on the sofa looking for change to get some lunch – it was nail biting time … but we were never too proud to do what was necessary at the time.
The constant hustle paid off
Constantly hustling and never being too proud soon paid off. Within 6 months we’d landed prestigious contracts with government agencies, multinationals and won the agent of the year award. We travelled a lot, afternoons were spent at the beach just because we could.
But we wanted more.
With money no longer an issue, we started to dig deeper into what we wanted out of life. We’d become “successful” really fast yet we were still dissatisfied.
We’re now in the South of France. I’ve been doing a range of different things. After refurbishing a 200 year old farm house I ran furnished apartments in Provence whilst I got my marketing consultancy reactivated online. I became a mother to the gorgeous BiP in 2010 – you can read about our adventures here.
Lessons and starting a business
This is what I discovered along the way.
- Plan your moves wisely and focus on the goal
- Don’t be afraid (or too proud) to do a job that is outside of your field if you need to
- Most sofas only hold enough money for a burger
- Be aware that time takes on a whole new meaning when you are on your own
- Get used to hearing the word NO and not take it to heart
- Be prepared for your relationships, personal and professional to change dramatically
Have you made the big move to becoming a business owner? How was it?