An Entrepreneur’s Journey - Lessons From The Battlefield
My boss had scheduled a meeting in my diary for the end of the day. And everyone in the company knew what that meant – I was getting fired.
Funnily enough, I didn’t even care. I’d become incredibly busy with Deals in High Heels, our events and digital branding with clients. I obsessed all day about clocking off as I wanted to do work that actually ignited me. How could I work for someone else, on their terms and sell something that I didn't believe in?
After I got fired, I cleared my desk and walked out feeling nervous, anxious, excited. Invigorated. Freaking SCARED. Could I REALLY start my own company? Did I REALLY have the guts?
Yes. I did. And when I rung my family in New Zealand that night to convince them that I would be okay (“Yes Mum, I promise I will have enough money for rent and food on my plate...”), I swore to them that I HAD to do it. I would rather die trying.
My new motto was “Go hard, or go back to New Zealand.”
And becoming an entrepreneur, working on Deals in High Heels and our branding, marketing and influence building agency Briar Prestidge International full time was, for sure, the best decision I’ve ever made.
But, I’m not going to sit here and sugar coat things - many people have a perception that entrepreneurship is ‘glamourous.’ It’s not. I know entrepreneurs who have eaten nothing but pasta for a week, been kicked out of their apartments and become so late with payments that they got put in prison.
Sometimes I think, oh how NICE it must feel to live a normal life of routine. Wake up, go to work in your 9-til-5 job, pretend to care, work towards your promotion, chat and have a laugh with colleagues, then go home. And when the weekend comes around, well, it's out for brunch, swimming and socialising.
......Being as driven and obsessed with success as I am, is both a godsend and a curse.
I would fight and literally, eat manky dirt for my companies. Yep, I've chosen this life of responsibility, uncertainty and excitement. There is no going back.
And with a booming entrepreneurial ecosystem, what better place to have a start-up than Dubai?
Here is my honest encounter of life as an entrepreneur and what I’ve learnt
Expect to lose friends
Entrepreneurship can be incredibly lonely - you won’t be able to balance your entrepreneurial hustle while trying to be friends with everyone. You might even lose friendships because of your dedication to your business.
Find a community that has other entrepreneurs (our Deals in High Heels events would be a great place to start!) and seek mentors who have 'been there, done that.'
While it may make you uncomfortable at first, you’ll need to prioritize your relationships. Keep up the relationships you find value in maintaining long-term.
Don't get comfortable
Many businesses struggle to scale as entrepreneurs get tired of the constant hustle and become content with what they have got. Self-motivation is so much harder when you report to yourself! Setting KPIs and creating daily to-do lists have helped me. A vision board reminds me of the long-term game.
Spend time hiring and then treat them right
How do you hire top talent and retain them? Thankfully, I found employees who believe in my long-term mission, and have surrounded my business with trusted freelancers. As my friend Muhammad Chbib, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Talawaj says, "By investing in your people, you will invest in your company." I completely agree.
Keep things to yourself
Ahh, the age old question – should you share your business ideas or ambitious, personal plans to others?
I learnt the hard way... if you have a great idea, plan or strategy to execute, my advice is to keep it to yourself. My proposals, these days, don't contain any specific strategy. Come on, after our meeting you know what we do and our skills/ expertise - if you want the specific strategy you can pay for it first.
Don’t be afraid to fire people
The Kiwi in me always likes to see the best in people and make everyone happy, but lately, I’ve become more ruthless. I waved goodbye to a friend who demonstrated sharky behaviour. I fired a client that sucked the energy out of myself and my team.
People like this will drain your time and resources. Time wasted with people like this is time you could spend getting new and better clients. Or even reading, listening to a podcast or just getting some much-needed rest.
You need to keep your energy positive and upbeat, and one way you can do that is by spending time with the RIGHT people - whether it's friends, colleagues or prospects.
Work hard and play hard… or perhaps more realistic: SLEEP
Easier said than done when you are a proclaimed workaholic! And now I’m writing a novel, I have even LESS fun. When your 'time is money,' it's easy to get caught up and think you need to work 85 hour weeks. Realistically though, you probably spend a fair share of that time procrastinating. If you work all the time, you will just burn yourself out. Rest and revitalise.
Prepare for your roller coaster feelings
One minute you’re flying high (“OMG my life is GREAT!”) and the next minute you're feeling very low. One day, you're exclaiming that you will be a multi-millionaire and the next, you are questioning if you should file for bankruptcy. Being an entrepreneur can be a rollercoaster of emotions, adrenaline and self-doubt. Recognize that. Celebrate the highs (they too often go uncelebrated as I'll be grafting on the next project!) and don't beat yourself up during the lows.
Yep, entrepreneurship is inner battlefield: you will learn a lot, and FAST. You will have times where you seriously doubt your abilities and times you want to throw the towel in and QUIT.
But, as much as it's hard, it's also incredibly rewarding to work on something YOU invented. It's YOUR business. You can take on that extra project or say no to that new client. You can decide who you will hire. You can talk about your business with more passion and conviction than anyone else.
Because at the end of the day it's you business, and you fought hard for it.