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Ten Years as an Entrepreneur

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Ten years ago, I was retrenched from a marketing and sales position. My story is the same as many other people. Sometimes losing a job can point towards a better life and opportunities you never thought possible and now Ten Years as an Entrepreneur.

After my retrenchment, I didn’t have an epiphany about starting a business. I simply said, “I’ll work for myself until I get a job.” That job never came, and ten years later, I find myself unemployable. I’m an entrepreneur, author and international conference speaker.

In ten years, I’ve presented in over 14 countries, started six business (three remain), made money, lost money, learnt a lot and ultimately realised that entrepreneurship is not for the weak. The toughest decisions I’ve made happened in the last ten years. The biggest highlights have also occurred during my time as an entrepreneur.

I love being an entrepreneur, and it’s not because of the ‘own boss’ dream that is often touted as the best part of starting a business.

It’s because entrepreneurship does three incredible things, and I get to be a part of that.

Entrepreneurship creates self-worth
I never realised the value in what I could do until I saw people willing to spend money on me to do those things. People don’t part with money easily and watching them spend it on me was humbling and inspiring. It pushed me to deliver well and create value for my clients. The more I did this, the more I believed in myself and what I had to bring to the table.

I want this for everyone, to see their self-worth, and entrepreneurship is one genuine way for you to recognise that. When you live life as an entrepreneur, you have to see your worth; you have to believe in yourself and place bets on your ability. It’s part of the job, and over time you begin to realise that you are capable of much more than you ever hoped or dreamed.

Add to that an entrepreneurial leader spends most of their time pouring energy into their people, and you start to see the self-worth grow in the people you employ. Each challenge you take on is an opportunity for your whole team to develop and see what they are capable of achieving.

Entrepreneurship makes you a stronger person
I cannot explain how much you grow as a person when you have to bear the brunt of the successes and consequences of every decision you make.

I remember the feeling of buying my first car a year into my business. I drew the dividends and bought the car cash. It was an excellent feeling. Then I learnt a big lesson and paid the consequence for the next year. I had a new car, but I didn’t have cash in the business anymore. That year I worked harder than I ever imagined to keep my little business afloat, all because I bought a new car.

It’s a small example, but since then, I have paid significant consequences for mistakes but also celebrated massive wins for making the right bets. When you’re an entrepreneur, it all rests on your shoulders, and it’s a thrilling experience – and you’ll only get stronger, more resilient and battle hardy.

Entrepreneurship builds the economy
I’m a firm believer that entrepreneurship is the solution to Africa’s poverty. Not charity or handouts. Giving people things often creates a victim mindset and holds people in a place of self-pity.

Entrepreneurship builds people up; it creates economic power; it lets people make their own decisions and serves more people than charity ever could. The better a business does, the more people they hire, the more families are supported. On top of that, entrepreneurship forces people into a learning mindset, which means they see new opportunities, experience new cultures and this bigger mindset will help people solve more significant problems.

This is me…
So this is me, ten years into my entrepreneurial journey saying thanks to everyone who challenged me, supported me, hired me, and retrenched me. You have all been a part of this journey – one I am grateful I get to walk.

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