Balance ambition with critical reflection on your actual and not perceived abilities.
I am a wantrepreneur. I’ve been breathing and talking entrepreneurship for the last 5 years, but I still don’t have my own startup. I came across the term “startup” for the very first time and have since witnessed the startup ecosystem in Melbourne boom. I’ve also watched many ships sail off to return with people skipping all the way to the bank. Yet, 5 years later, I am still working for someone else.
“I was just not ready yet.”
Running a startup is hard work and more than 90% of startups fail. That was what I was told when I was still in university learning about entrepreneurship. That was 6 years ago and the statistics still stands strong today.
Of course, many people still went for it and I really admire their courage for doing so. You hear about people having real problems they’re passionate about solving, but I on the other hand never found my “hair on fire” problem. People also have the right background and skills to get shit done, but I on the other hand had no knowledge or experience.
As much as I wanted to start something of my own, the reality was it was going to go nowhere. The only thing I was going to get through giving up my pay check would be the important lessons taught from failure.
So I did the next best thing after graduating and joined a global technology and “innovation” company. I went in with a dream to discover problems worth solving whilst getting paid to help enterprises solve theirs.
During my time working in IT as a freshly minted graduate, I really wanted to get shit done. However, I quickly discovered that it just didn’t happen in corporate. There was a lot of politics, competition, unnecessary processes and people simply not caring enough. That was not what I signed up for and I really wanted out.
I also started having a lot of ideas I really wanted to build, but because I had no real skills, my ideas never made it past mock-ups. I was frustrated. The only way to turn my ideas into a reality without parting ways with my money was to build it myself.
Funnily enough, when I had my first taste of programming, I absolutely hated it and told everyone I would never program again. I just couldn’t see how printing things to a console would translate into aesthetically pleasing apps. Now here I am teaching myself how to code after work each night in the lobby of my hotel.
However, there’s only so much time you can spend learning after work and so much you can do alone. The best way to accelerate my learning was if I did it in my day job, but the voice from within told me I wouldn’t be good enough. I went through a period of inner turmoil going against feelings of wanting to take the leap of faith and fears around not being able to deliver and potentially getting fired.
My mind continued to go against my will to become a developer, but I ignored the bad thoughts and continued inching forward. I started participating in hackathons and building up a portfolio.
Slowly but surely, I became ready and started applying for jobs, and guess what? I got offered a position as a Mobile Engineer! My hard work, patience and passion for what I did paid off and the feeling was worth over a million dollars. I was now getting paid to learn at work which freed up a lot of time to ship things at night!
BUT… I soon discovered that solely focusing on one thing like iOS development was very limiting when most ideas require an omni channel presence. So again I felt like…
I was just not ready yet.
In hindsight, I don’t regret anything because I know if I had went for it, I would have been part of that 90% statistic. I guess another reason why I was reluctant to venture into anything was because I had no co-founder and that’s another major reason why startups tend to fail. There was basically no-one who truly resonated with me or was willing to consistently give up their social life to make things happen.
This year I’ve had the opportunity to build apps for startups and enterprises, but the most fortunate thing that has happened is that I’m no longer travelling solo. I’ve met someone who share similar experiences, the same vision and together we decided the best thing for us now is to become full stack developers in preparation for our future startup.
We’ll be using 2018 as a foundation year to acquire the right skills needed to turn any idea into a reality. By the end of the foundation year, the vision is to have shipped a total of 12 passion projects. Whilst creating multiple streams of income is nice, the actual idea is about creating a playground for learning how to build and grow an idea and audience from the ground up.
Again, there is only so much time you can spend learning after work and so we left our comfort zone, divorced iOS and took on a new role as a full stack developer.
It is now the first week of 2018 and I am feeling pumped and hopeful for the New Year. Maybe this year it’ll be my year. Maybe, just maybe…
I’ll finally be ready.