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Are your past or current circumstances holding you back from starting your own business or from growing your business?
For years, I thought that my past, background, education and qualifications determined my career and future. I blamed my upbringing, myself and my parent for being stuck where I was in my life.
Every entrepreneur has their own unique story of how they started their entrepreneurial journey. But what they all have in common is the fact that they had to overcome their holdbacks, self-doubts and fear of failing to get where they are now.
Before we get started, I wanted to share my journey to entrepreneurship.
- Born In Japan -
I was born in Japan and grew up being told that you need to work hard to make money.
My father worked 16 hours a day 6 days a week in his little pharmacy. He inherited the pharmacy from his father and it wasn't his choice of career. His father left him with a mortgage to pay off when he passed away, before I was born. He was left with a small pharmacy and debts. He worked hard to provide me and my brother with everything we needed.
That didn’t mean that we had loads of toys and gadgets. We were given a good standard of education. We were given a good quality of food. We were taught manners and etiquette.
- at Age 9 -
When I was 9, I was sent to the UK. I went to a boarding school called Summerhill School, which is a well-known alternative school in the UK.
It is a unique school founded by A.S. Neil (if you are into education, google him!) where lessons are non-compulsory and both adults and children have equal status. I will be honest, I didn’t attend many of my lessons until I was 14, and the only lesson I really attended and enjoyed was Mathematics.
Some said we were well off because my parents could afford to send both my brother and I to a boarding school in the UK.
The reality was that we weren't living a luxury life.
We never went on a family vacation. As children we were given a maximum of 3 tops and bottoms to alternate everyday. We only had what we needed.
The great thing is that it taught me the lesson of how to make my own money as a child.
- My First Enterprise -
My first enterprise was a shop in my shared room at 11, where I sold Japanese instant noodles and snacks to other kids at the school!
I expanded to selling chocolate bars and other snacks and made a decent profit :) I would sell ice cream during summer and toasties during winter. I loved selling stuff and making my own money!
- Moved to London at 16 -
When I left Summerhill School at 16 with minimal GCSEs, I decided to move to London to study Media & Photography at college.
But I also wanted and needed to work so that I could start earning money and support myself.
I worked in the evenings at a restaurant during my 3 years at college and was able to pay my rent, bills and all my expenses from my wage.
Working in the restaurant was very physical, but I enjoyed the social interaction with my colleagues and customers. I loved offering the best service to customers. It was rewarding and good service meant good tips!
- My Career -
When I finished college at 19, I wanted to further my study at university but I couldn’t afford the fees because I was still classed as an overseas student, so I decided to get a full-time job.
I started off as an Office Junior and soon I got noticed for my ability to speak my native Japanese and got a job in one of the largest global advisory firms.
My career really took off from there. I was head hunted to work for their competitor and I eventually asked for funding to study for an accounting qualification.
For the next 3 years, I studied and worked full-time.
- Unhealthy lifestyle -
But I found that my health suffered as I was constantly stressed out, exhausted all the time and probably smoking and drinking too much.
This reflected in my relationship with my partner at the time and my friends. I wasn’t happy with my life and I would spend all my wages on alcohol, cigarettes and expensive dinners in fancy restaurants or bars. When I finished my accounting qualification, I moved to a small investment firm on the outskirts of London to escape central London’s frenzy.
- Discovered Yoga -
I began practicing Yoga a lot around that time and noticed the change in me – physically, mentally and emotionally.
I enrolled on to a Yoga teacher training course in February 2013. But I was still a mess (physically & emotionally) and I was in a really rocky relationship for the third time. I wasn’t in a state to continue the training so I decided to postpone it.
Later that year I left the highly competitive world of the private sector and started working for the Mayor of London. The work was not overly challenging but I actually got to finish work by 5.30!
I finally had an opportunity to slow down and had time to reflect on my life. That’s when I decided to restart the Yoga teacher training.
- My Entrepreneurial Journey -
And so my journey to an entrepreneurship resumed.
Yoga helped me stay positive and it really opened up some new possibilities for me – in an unexpected way!
I now run my own online business which has been my dream since I was little. I may not be a six-figure business owner (YET) and my life is no way near perfect but I am the happiest I’ve ever been, because I’m finally doing something I love.
Yes, there are times I wish I could go out in the evening with my friends instead of trying to get my blog post out while battling with slow internet speeds.
There are times I wish I could spend the money to buy clothes or on a proper vacation instead of investing into my business.
There are times I question myself - what the heck am I doing? Do people actually care what I do?
But when I think back to all the decisions I made, was totally worth it. Sure I wish I’d done a few things differently! It’s all about learning.
- You Have a choice -
I wanted to share my story first because I want to let you know that you can become who you want to be regardless of your background, upbringing, education, qualification, career, gender or nationality.
I’ve never studied properly at school since I left Japan. My academic record is embarrassing. I haven’t even studied English properly! I don’t have a bachelor’s degree or PhD. I didn’t have a career that got me a six-figure salary. I’m not from a wealthy family. And yes I guess I’m a “foreigner” in the UK too…
But that’s ok. Your past or current circumstances shouldn’t stop you from doing something you really love. Whether it’s starting your own business or going back to school and studying something you’ve always wanted. Or going for that dream job.
You may not be where you want to be in your life & your business yet but if you follow some simple rules, you CAN get to where you want to be and live the life you really desire.
#1: Stop blaming others, your past or current situation for not having what you want in your life
Don’t have the right skills? Not enough experience?
Then start learning new skills and actively seek to gain new experience. It’s never late to learn new skills or acquire new knowledge.
This is a common holdback for many aspiring entrepreneurs. They are passionate about the subject and eager to teach others, but when it comes to selling their services or products, they feel that they are not good enough to charge for their services or products.
There are so many courses, workshops and seminars online to brush up on your skills and knowledge. And some of these courses are not expensive at all!
My favorite places to seek to learn new skills are:
Udemy is a great place to look for online courses if you want to learn new skills. They have over 45,000 courses from personal development, health & fitness and business courses.
I’ve purchased a couple of courses from Udemy and they are great value.
Eventbrite is a great place to find your local events, workshops and seminars in your area. It learns your interests and keeps you up to date on what events are happening near you, both free and paid.
Meetup is similar to Eventbrite and you can find your local events, workshops and seminars in your area. Meetup is also a great place to find networking events in your area to meet like-minded people and share advice and hopefully learn something new!
Offer your services for free to gain more experience
The best way to gain more experience is to offer your services for free. To begin with, you could help out your friends and family. Get some feedback and ask for testimonials or case studies. It’s a great way to market research too and you never know they might refer you to their friends, family and colleagues!
Then start taking action to create budget, find out the way to make more money or earn extra money, pay off your debts and start saving.
Some of the ways to make extra money:
- Look for a new job that pays more
- Ask for a promotion
- Sell stuff you no longer need or using
- Start a freelancing job
- Get a part-time job
Also seek expert advice on managing your finance so that you can start taking action towards your dreams.
Everyone else is doing what you want to do?
It’s a great thing that other people are already doing what you want to do successfully. That means there’s a market for it!
It’s not easy to find something completely new in the market these days. Most people’s ideas are built on other people’s ideas. But there’s a catch. You need to develop your unique selling proposition (USP) to make your idea unique to you and create your unique brand.
Ask someone you know who will be honest with you and tell you what they think you are good at or what your unique ability may be. Sometimes people around you know better than yourself!
Then do tons of market research and find out the gaps in the market.
I truly believe that every one of us have our own unique ability we can share with the world. Find one!
#2: Create a plan and start taking actions everyday to get one step closer to your goal
Things won’t magically happen overnight.
What action can you take to get to where you want to be? Create a plan and be consistent in taking action.
The important thing is to start now.
There are usually two paths when it comes to starting your own business:
#1 Starting a business related to your existing expertise
This is when you’re offering your existing expertise. This, of course should be your passion too. I don’t see the point of starting a business if you’re not passionate about the subject :)
You may need to brush up on your skills and knowledge, but your main action is to focus on target market research and start building your audience or email list. So I suggest creating a plan around that.
#2 Starting a business based on your passion but not necessarily having the experience or the right skills
This is when you’re starting a business related to the subject or niche that you are really passionate about.
You may have experienced something personally in your life and managed to overcome it and are passionate about teaching others, but not necessarily have the right skills or qualification to offer services or products as a real business.
Or you may have an amazing idea and passion to create a particular product but you may not have the right skills or knowledge to actually create the product.
This means that you may need to take a course or get a qualification first in order to start your own business. That is totally fine!
Your background, education, experience, skills etc. shouldn’t stop you from starting something completely new or taking a completely different direction.
This may take a little longer than starting a business related to your existing expertise, but if you are interested and passionate about it, then the extra effort is worth it.
If you need to take a course to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge in order to make your business dream a reality, I highly recommend that you start blogging on the subject while you study and start building your audience.
So when you are qualified and can start offering services or products, you will already have an audience who trust and love your blog.
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#3: Get support & accountability
To make your business dream a reality, you may need extra help and support from people who already have done it for themselves. You can’t do it alone!
I highly recommend getting a coach, mentor or accountability buddy who already has a successful business to help you focus and challenge you as you go through your entrepreneurial journey.
There are a few things to remember when you are hiring a coach or mentor
#1 Make sure you do your due-diligence
There are many business coaches and mentors in the online world of business. And there are so many super convincing marketing messages, promising all sorts of results. I highly recommend doing your due-diligence before hiring any business coach or mentor. The best way to do this is to get in touch with their past clients and speak with them. It’s totally fine for you to ask them to give you their past clients contact details.
#2 Make sure the coach or mentor you are hiring has experience working with people in your industry and niche
Most coaches teach you the strategies that worked for them and tell you to implement the same strategies – which is all good but remember each business is unique and what work for others may not work for you.
#3 A premium fee is no guarantee of quality
Be aware that paying a premium fee doesn’t mean that the coach or mentor is the best and can guarantee results. You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars on a coach or mentor - especially if you don’t have that kind of money to spend. If they have a lower priced e-course or group program, start with that first and see if you could benefit from one-on-one support.
Surround yourself with like-minded people who are passionate about starting their own business
A great way to motivate yourself to take action to make your business dream a reality is to surround yourself with people who are on the same journey as you.
Check out your local entrepreneurial meetup groups or be active on Facebook groups where other entrepreneurs hang out.
Try to find an accountability buddy online or locally who you can meet up regularly and share advice, skills and motivate each other so you can reach your goals faster and more effectively.
Let’s make your business dream a reality!
I hope you found this post helpful and inspired you to take action to make your business dream a reality!