We live in an age where becoming an entrepreneur is easier now than it has ever been. The barriers to entry are much lower. Quit your job to start a business? You’re an entrepreneur. Quit university to start a business? You’re an entrepreneur. Start a business on the side? You’re also an entrepreneur.
Modern creatives (of any age) aren’t really supposed to be caged by the restrictions of the corporate world. You have a choice: love the job you have, continue working at a job you hate, or go out and build your dreams. What’s more common to read about, entrepreneurs who left their job to build a dream, or people who provided loyalty to a company, worked there for a number of years and kept the business ticking behind the scenes? The rockstar stories all come from people who had a problem, built a solution and sold that on a global scale. Applications literally give you the ability to rent space (the App Store) and sell your product, providing the same excellent customer-service to someone in America, Cambodia, or Malaysia, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can do this from the comfort of your own home and even have virtual conversations with more than one person at a time. You just can’t do this as a salesman or saleswoman, selling a traditional product.
The entrepreneurial stories depict a lower barrier to entry for adventuring down this path; find a solution to a problem, build it and sell it. These stories illustrate successes and more recently, the embracing of failures and lessons learnt. This concept focuses on the destination; they worked hard and got to where they want to be in life. They’re happy. They’re successful. They have freedom. Some of them even have more money than they know what to do with.
No one is undervaluing the work any successful or unsuccessful entrepreneur has done to get to where they are. Even some unsuccessful entrepreneurs have worked harder in one year, than I have in my entire life. But how did they really do it? What journey did they actually take? What examples of mistakes did they make, and what did they feel while the mistake was happening?
Success stories are tremendously inspiring. It’s a very good way for you to put an element of realism to your desires. It shows you that others have done it, so you can too. These stories highlight personnel who started with worse backgrounds and beginnings than yourself but who then made it to success. There’s nothing stopping you but you and there’s evidence to back why motivational stories are inspiring.
On the contrary, the concept of failure is directly opposite to success. It has a negative connotation. Failure: You failed. I failed. He failed. She failed. It sounds harsh and negative, yet in an excellent example of seeing the cup as half full, successful entrepreneurs have done incredible work of putting a positive spin to their experiences with failure; I failed and therefore learnt these lessons. Take these lessons from me and learn to not make the same mistakes.
These stories on failures are somehow as equally inspiring as the success stories because it gives the reader a sense that if other people (who are incredibly successful now) have failed with mistakes and bounced back, there’s hope for us all.
However, there’s an elephant no one seems to be talking about. The perception of success and failure at this moment in time is very different to the perception of the same success and failure, in hindsight, after you’ve had days, weeks or months to reflect. What might seem as a lesson learnt from a failure now, might have been a heart-wrenching issue at the time.
I have an ever-flowing list of success stories, failures, lessons learnt, 10 steps to be successful, 20 things to give up to be successful articles to read and after a certain point, its effect becomes void. And it is only recently that I realised why this is the case, through a series of intense self-reflection. The problems I’m facing are my problems alone. The barriers stopping or getting in the way of me being an entrepreneur are unique to me and while it is helpful to learn from other peoples’ mistakes, it is more beneficial to learn from my own. Or learn how to learn from my own.
This self-reflection, on a daily basis over the last few months has been a gift. It has provided clarity on so many things I thought I was sure about. I now have direction, an end-goal and a clear “why”. I will talk about this in future posts.
I want to highlight what I want in life. I come from a family of businessmen and women. Since the age of 7, I have wanted to run my own business and at that tender age, I remember telling everyone that I would one day run a coat hanger factory with my sons. I had so many ideas along the way but was too scared and too fearful of failure to pursue them, so I worked hard for someone across an array of Information Technology-Based jobs, convincing myself I will eventually get to build my dreams, I just need to build up money, experience, confidence first.
Five years ago, I joined a company that I loved working for. I learnt so much and gained so much experience. Over the past few months, things have taken a very big turn with the company, but it was a job that I loved going to work. And going to work was a 5 second commute to my full-time home working office. That experience for 5 years was the best teacher in discipline and time management, but it also gave me an insight into the kind of life I wanted. To work hard and be able to spend time with my family. But ultimately, I was just building a dream for someone else. I was going nowhere. And going up in an organisation means nothing to me. The work isn’t meaningful to me.
I want success. But success to me isn’t as shallow as a nice car and house. Sure, I want those things because I like comfort in life, but ultimately, I desire the freedom to make my own choices in life. If I ran a business now that generated, to the penny, the same amount of money I’m making in my job, I’d quit my job in a heartbeat. Of course, money is a critical component to seeing through my goal of wanting to be successful and provide a good life for my family, but it’s not the motivation.
I want to travel to see and experience different cultures. I want to attend family oriented events and never want to worry about an annual leave restriction. To emphasise this point, I recently took a nice break to London and Budapest and am left with 3 days annual leave till March 2018.
My corporate salary has a very low ceiling and I want to break through that barrier. I want to be able to determine a single day in the week for meetings and set aside time for a morning routine that suits me, like meditation, praying and working out. I want to walk into an office from something I have built; something to connect the world. I want to have lunches with my wife and soon-to-be born child. I want to spend time with them in the evenings. I want to be there for the birth of my child, for more than just two weeks of paternity leave.
I want to work on something I’m passionate about building and I want to work with a team that believes in that same passion. I want to stay home somedays to just play with my kid and watch the child grow. I have the experience to work from anywhere and the desire to make it a reality.
This doesn’t mean I don’t want to work hard. With my dreams in mind, I will work harder than I have ever worked, but I also don’t want to be a slave to someone else’s dream and get sick as a result of being overworked. If I build something that gets a substantial financial success, I will still work and build new ideas. I want to define my terms of working. I never want to stop learning.
But, what I want is ultimately what I want and cannot be equated with what anyone else wants. Even my wife, who I share the deepest bond with, has different wants from me.
I am on this journey now. I am building it, leading it and walking down this path every single day. In the past five years, I have learnt to code and have built two apps, so I am familiar with the blurred line between work that I have to do and work that I want to do. I am comfortable with the idea of working from anywhere, anytime and working hard to plan out what I want. I am learning so much as I go along, making ample mistakes, facing fears and continuing to learn. But this isn’t hindsight. This is the now. And this now is what I want to focus on; this journey.
Instead of journalling my feelings, thoughts and fears on a private basis, I want to share my journey with you.
Reading about failures from people who have already learnt everything there is to learn from that lesson is considered the act of learning in hindsight, or reflection. As my journal reflects my fears, mistakes and stresses in real-time, I want to reflect that, in real-time to the world. In the last 6 months, rather than reading about success stories and lessons learnt from failures, I would have loved to have read an ongoing informal journal of someone I admire, working towards their dream, failing along the way and documenting their very real fears and feelings.
To emphasise this, I want to highlight a small difficulty I faced a few years ago. In my first IT-based job after graduating from university, I was in an IT-Analyst role, providing first and second-line support to clients. I thought I was doing a good job, but six months in, the main client cancelled their contract due to a lack of funds and I was made redundant, from my first job, less than a year into it.
I took it hard. My family took it hard. It was failure personified. Tears were shed. I was angry, frustrated, worried and fearful. I started self-doubting and wondering what I should do. I went into a shell for a while.
That was a very real feeling at the time, but in hindsight, it worked out well because two months later I got a job at a publishing company as an IT Engineer with a higher salary. I took a course in CyberSecurity and ended up at another company, two years later as a IT Security Consultant. From there, I was appointed a Mobile Security Specialist for a Danish Application-based company. This provided the necessary skills to help build, project manage and market my own applications and allowed me to work from home for 5 years, building up discipline, time-management and a desire to live this life of having my own business with my own time.
So in hindsight, it was the path I was meant to take; the best thing that could have happened. There were lessons learnt and success stories. But at the time, it felt like the worst possible thing that could have happened. I was engaged to my now-wife. I had to lie to the in-laws about what happened because I was so fearful of the stigma. I was scared I had failed and I didn’t see a way out. And that very real, very raw feeling is what I want to write about in my journey. I am not expecting you to learn from my mistakes as I find that unnatural, but I want you to get a very real insight into my fears, failures, mistakes, thoughts and path along this journey and I hope you can find value in reading about the raw, unreflected feelings.
So Who Am I?
I’m Amit. I was born in Malaysia and spent 6 years in Australia in the early stages of my life, and then spent the next 25 years in London. I gave up my Malaysian passport to be British, but that was never “home” to me. Something never clicked. It never felt right, besides spending my entire educational life there and the first 10 years of my career. I didn’t like the attitude of people and I’ve been feeling that way for a few years.
My family are based in South East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Bangkok) and I started realising recently I was just too far away from everyone. With a desire to get out of London, to run my own business, and with multiple opportunities presenting themselves in South East Asia in 2016, I decided to make the move back home. I want to start my own business and be closer to family events. In a year, I used to travel to South East Asia 4 times a year from London for family events and with Malaysia being a very low-cost country, it was the ideal time to make the move. On January 14 2017, I moved into my apartment in Malaysia.
My wife is Singaporean (which is geographically the equivalent distance between London and Manchester) and so persuading her to move nearer to her family in Singapore was not that difficult of a proposition.
In terms of a career, what currently defines me are the two applications I have developed for iOS (Envylope and Basics of Sikhi). But my business ideas span across much more than that and moving to Malaysia was a big part of that. I am going to start by developing applications (with a team of developers) for SMEs around South East Asia. The market here has a very high cost of entry for mobile applications and I would like to disrupt that. I would however also like to build ideas that I have been thinking about for years. And one idea in particular which is very close to starting aims to fulfil my desire to walk into an office with a team of passionate individuals working towards the same goal.
In order to maintain a sense of responsibility, I am currently still working for the same company that I worked for in London; a Japanese networking company. This provides that sense of security with finances, allowing me to work on the side on building up my businesses, but I don’t enjoy the work, the products or the culture at all. That is just something I have to deal with for the time being.
At the end of 2016, with 20 days to go before I boarded the flight to Malaysia, I had a very extensive plan set out for what I wanted in 2017. I wanted 4 clients by March 2017 for my Mobile Application business. I wanted things to go well that I could quit my job by June.
The first thing I have learnt over the past few months is that nothing goes so deeply according to plan, and you have to learn to adapt. The plan was for me to move to Malaysia and travel to Singapore for my office every once in a while, but with not having a working visa in Malaysia and with my organisation not understanding the concept of remote working, I was forced to live in Singapore until I found a way. I’m currently working on a way. And so it put a strain on wanting to start up my business in Malaysia and find that dream team. That’s just an example of a very real spanner in the works and the kind of examples I will be talking about in my journey.
This is my story and this journey will detail very specific elements that I am going through to build up my business, my goals and my dreams.