Monday, September 24, 2018

On entrepreneurship and self-knowledge


Does entrepreneurship teach all the necessary skills for a successful and fulfilling life? And should it be taught in schools?

A few days ago, I was watching a Pat Flynn video on YouTube and he said something that caught my attention. He said that he thinks entrepreneurship is something that can teach students all the necessary skills of not just starting and running a business, but also for a successful life. He also said that he believes entrepreneurship should be taught in schools.

After hearing him say this, I began to think. I thought about what I’m learning as a business owner and how my business is teaching me and came to the conclusion that I absolutely agree with him.

Being an entrepreneur or small business owner can teach you a lot of things. When I first started my tutoring business… actually, let’s take it back further. When I was in college, I tried opening an online store selling electronics on eBay. At the time, I thought it was going to be super easy and that I was going to make tonnes of money doing it. I thought all I needed to do was find products from this online database/warehouse and place it on eBay and ka-ching! That’s it. Just find and place, and watch the money roll in.

But that didn’t happen. There is much more to selling online, but I was too egotistical and stubborn to actually learn how to do it the correct way. I thought I knew everything and didn’t need any help. I also believed that I didn’t need to do much work to make this a successful venture.

Well, after a few months of wasting money on additional add-ons on my eBay listings and not finding any success, I gave up. $300+ down the drain (FYI, this also includes the sign-up fee for the program).

The First Lesson

Fast forward a few years and now I have graduated from university. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated, but I knew I wanted to be my own boss. I did some research and found some things that were interesting. But one day, I was talking to my dad and he suggested that we open a tutoring center. I was like, “man, I was thinking that same thing!”

I knew I liked teaching but didn’t want to be a teacher because I didn’t want to go back to school. So tutoring was the best option for me at the time.

So, when we first started, everything was good in the sense that we were progressively growing and I was getting better and better as a tutor. But during this time, I was also getting depressed because I felt like I wasn’t in control or the captain of my ship. I felt like my dad was taking this ship in a direction that I didn’t want it to go in. To me, he had some terrible ideas and were making bad decisions. Again, I felt like I knew everything and that I was always right, and when his ideas clashed with mine, his were automatically wrong. And because of this, I started to hate the business even though I loved tutoring.

So, I started blogging and writing for online websites as a way to start my own business; something that was separate from my dad and something that I had complete control over. I spent my time focused on building my blogs and my online writing career rather than on my tutoring business. But since the goal of my online writing career was rooted in something that’s negative, I didn’t find much success doing it. I made bad decisions because I was too impatient and because I just wanted to have control over something. I wanted my career to be detached from my dad as soon as possible.

So as a result, I was lost and depressed.

And it sucked during this time in my life. I questioned my purpose and existence in this life. I was broke and confused and angry.




The Enlightenment

But one day, after I came back from tutoring, I just sat down and placed my head on my desk. Bad thoughts ran through my head. But I told myself that I would never do any of those things. So I tried to force positive thoughts into my mind. And while doing so (I don’t remember how), I realized that I really enjoyed tutoring. I also realized that my dad having so much input in the business shouldn’t be something that should negatively affect something that I love doing and something that I want to be my career. So, I shifted my mind and after this shift, I was a lot happier (and more pleasant to be around). And honestly, it happened almost immediately.

So now, my mind and attention were focused on building both my online writing career and my tutoring business.

The Second Lesson

After this enlightenment, my business was still growing. We continued to get more students and I continued to improve as a tutor. But a year after this, the business started to decline. We were getting fewer students each year. But because I am who I am, I didn’t do anything about it. I just thought it was a bad year and that it will pick up again the following year. This was a stupid move because what I should have done was look into it and try to fix the problem.

As a result of my lack of action, we nearly hit rock bottom. We ran out of money. And this happened the month before summer vacation when almost no students sign up for tutoring. And on top of this, I was slowly realizing that I couldn’t make a career out of writing.

Again, I was lost and confused. I was depressed. I questioned living.

It was a really bad time for me. I lost all my optimism and hope. I didn’t know what to do and I was pissed off. I blamed everyone but myself for my failures –failures that I could’ve easily fixed had I put any action towards it.

I spent many days in bed just moping around. When I woke up, I would go online and look for possible careers that I could do instead of what I was doing. I looked and looked but nothing fired me up.

Then one day, I just said: “fuck this!” I was sick of feeling down and negative. So I went online and watched motivational videos. Surprisingly, this charged me up and lit some bolts in my head. I was feeling creative again, and ideas for improving my business ran through my head.

So I went to work. But this time, I was actually trying to do it right, where I put in the time to do research and I was being active instead of just waiting for things to fix itself.

What I learned

Through this entire process, I have learned many things. I learned that everything takes time and I have to be patient. I also learned that I can be very stubborn and egotistical and I need to listen and analyze more before responding. I also learned that I need to be more open to suggestions. This ties into the stubborn part, but I just need to hear out suggestions more rather than just shutting them down because they sound stupid on the surface. I also learned that success is a by-product of putting in the work, not something that is given to you because good karma is on your side.

Starting and running a business is a great way to learn about yourself and I think everyone should do it. Seriously. That’s why I’m going to write a series to help you all start a tutoring business so you can go on this journey. Just think of it like a project, where the goal is to improve yourself as a person (and put some extra money in your pockets). Obviously, you can do any business you like but this is the type of business that I have experience in and the one that I think is the simplest to start.

So click here for the next article, where I talk about the different models of tutoring businesses and the one that I use.

4 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to hear that you have to go through so much that you were feeling so depressed.

    I hope you don't ever give up because you really only live once. It's not the end.

    I had a entrepreneur project in school btw and I do think that it's useful especially for people wanting to venture into business.

    And I also do agree that all schools should try to have it so students can learn from young.

    Layna
    www.beautybeyondtwenty.com

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  2. You know, I think I also signed up for the ebay dropshipping thing many years back and thought it would be easy too. Not so much! Also went through a lot of the same things and some of the same ups and downs getting started online. Thanks for sharing your insight!

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