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How (not) to start your own business.

October 30, 2017


Yeheey, I have started my own business. For my whole life I was working for someone, climbing the corporate ladder from a marketing assistant (serving coffee), to a marketing manager (also serving coffee but with a better title). I liked working for someone, it gave me a stable income every month, less responsibility, and less stress. Then I moved countries. I ended up in Johannesburg, South Africa and the first thing I heard was about how important it is to have connections here or meet certain requirements to find a job. 'I don't need connections to find a job!' - I stupidly thought, and started applying online, like I used to do in England, excited by how many amazing opportunities there were. Silence for a month... Silence for two months. 'It takes time' I kept telling myself, yet after four months, still no response, not even one rejection email, absolutely nothing. It was like I had never got in touch with thousands of companies, going the extra mile, no... going an extra 700 miles, like I had walked-to-Europe-and-back number of extra miles, to impress. I started seriously doubting myself, my skills, and my experience. I began searching for reasons why nobody wanted to employ me, but they all sounded like lame excuses, and made me feel very little.


After months of soul searching, my smarter half suggested that I set up my own marketing and graphic design company: 'If you can't find a job why don't you create your job?'. So here I am. It's hard, sometimes exhausting, I'm a marketeer, designer, sales person, admin and finance in one. But it pays back. It's like being a parent, surrounded by dirty nappies and the smell of vomit but you love this little creation of yours. The little things keep you going. As an example, I always wanted to be a graphic designer, which I couldn't do because I don't have any official papers for it. I taught myself everything with Google, Youtube and help from friends who are graphic designers, and now I can finally say that I am a graphic designer. I have clients using my logos, I have designed websites and branding, and I learn something new every day.


So how (not) to start your own business? I probably won't tell you anything you don't already know, but certain things I have to repeat to myself constantly as I tend to forget the most obvious:

  1. Start. I wanted to have a beautiful website, branding, clients, and money in my bank account straight away. I felt overwhelmed with everything I needed to do before I could officially say 'I have my own company and it's cool'. I put it off for months, hoping it'll appear by itself and shockingly, it didn't. Then I made a step by step plan and started choosing colours for my branding, website domains, had a go with the first designs. Like a miracle, when I'd done one thing, the second seemed easier, and so on and so forth. I kept telling myself that it didn't have to be perfect, I could learn during the process, it can all improve over time. At one stage I was reminded of a story of my university friend: she is an amazing photographer and I had the privilege to watch her grow from a talented student to a professional at the top of her game. She didn't care if people judged her, she started straight away, and progressed hugely over time. I kept thinking about her when I was setting everything up and it motivated me, it made me want to conquer the world, like she did. (Thank you Panda :-))

  2. Be positive. Wow, that's something you haven't heard before. But it is so important to stay positive all the time. Having your own business is hard. Nobody told me how hard it was before. Actually, they did but I didn't listen. You work whenever and wherever you are, and you end up working 24 hours a day, sitting in your backyard, wearing pyjamas full of stains, having the 10th cigarette of the day... You work a lot for almost no money at first, thinking every five minutes 'I quit'. You need to stay positive and believe in what you do. It'll succeed or you'll die trying.

  3. You need support. As mentioned above being positive is crucial but being positive on your own is almost impossible. You need support from your family, friends, a dog, who or whatever you can lean on. You need someone who believes in your company almost as much as you believe in it. I've had amazing support from almost everyone around me, and I will be grateful for this forever. My mum shared my Facebook page five times (I love you mum!).

Those are my 3 main points, the rest is just the matter of willpower, and litres of coffee.  


When a door closes, open it again. It's a door. That's how they work.


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