Once upon a time, I was so angry about my brother’s inability to fix a shower head and then grew angry from my anger for not being able to fix my own shower head, then it spilled to my anger towards modern-day curriculums for not teaching us basic life skills. This is how Sxill was born. There is no romantic story of when we sat under an apple tree or how we planned to change education. It just happened, in a way it happened naturally like it was meant to be.
But like many great things in life, they fall into place. It’s like every time we reached a milestone, we forgot the pain and tireless nights to reboot again. This is what passion is, it’s the ability to thrive under challenges and the perseverance to demand it on and on again. It’s the core of entrepreneurship.
This post was inspired by two plots: the comments I usually get from friends who wonder, how can I get an idea, leave my job and start a business and by my dad who still thinks I’m on a leap year until I find a real job. If you are thinking to dive into the world of self-employment, let’s start the show.
THE LIGHT BULB MOMENT
If you are looking to leave your job and become your own boss, you don’t really have to think of the next life-changing idea. You can settle for being a business owner or expand one of your skills to get you that income. If you are a designer, you should start building that business sense, you should be paid for what you do as a freelancer. If you have the skill of writing, for example, you can start managing marketing campaigns for companies who are in desperate need of engaging content. Your business can be your skill.
Now, if you are looking to implement a behavioral change in society and make a mind shift on consumer behavior, this is what entrepreneurship is. My god, it’s one of the most challenging things in life that somedays I lay on the floor and pledge to sell pickles instead. You will need to research, to convince, to set the right services. then you’ll just pray so hard, just eat bread for a day from anxiety and then hope the consumer sees the benefit. You can’t live like that without growing a set of soft skills.
You usually know you’ve hit that great idea when you start sharing it with your close friends and family and you can clearly see their honest excitement. I remember when I found the light, that look on my two close friends Noora and Amna clearly saying you are onto something. There is also that feeling of restlessness that you have to make that idea happen, it’s just always there day and night.
THE NEXT STEP
When the idea is there, you have to implement it ASAP. Once an idea is out in the universe, I truly believe someone else will pick-up on it and then you will start sobbing and pointing fingers on how copycats exist. You also need to set a deadline, a task without a deadline is a wish. Case in point, right on a tissue paper.
It’s simple, it’s easy, no it’s not rocket science. You can use your house as the location through Intelaq or get a freelancing license from DED (ask for our friend Salama Al Aslai, woops sorry Salama) http://www.sme.ae/English/Pages/default.aspx
Do not be that person who assumes their idea is life-changing and will solve all the problems in the world. This is your ego talking. Drop that ego, facts are facts, and opinions matter in the world of business. Not your personal opinion but your potential customers. Create a set of questions and study if people would actually buy that product or not. Chances are if many replies are a no, things need to be adjusted. I prefer using Google Forms.
Create a demo event or a demo product and have people try it or sell it for a nominal fee. Get their feedback and see how your idea is implemented. Our proof of concept was the Children Stories workshop with Kalimat, which honestly, we never imagined it would sell out. People will tell you to sit behind a desk and finish off a business plan and a financial plan that will probably send you to the grave because your imagination and research can only show you so little. Start practical testing and experiences first, then dive into the business plan to figure things out. When I look back now to our Sxill’s business plan, most of the ideas transformed phenomenally by practice and hey, we got even more ideas.
Set up a nice website, a nice services document, and a company profile. You should also focus on your existence on social media by blocking in usernames. At Sxill, we started by clearly drafting our pillars that are the core of what we do because we sell services. You don’t need to spend money on these steps, create them yourself on Canva or Wix it.
Our government is very generous, and I truly mean it. There are so many incubations out there to help start-ups cultivate their ideas, test them, and then launch them under a safeguarded environment. We have submitted our application at In5 design and have been incubated there for a year which includes a nominal fee for rent and the use of spaces for idea development and execution #notanad. Below is a photo of the day we moved in!
BUILD YOUR ENERGY POOL
There are two kinds of people. The ones who vent for a solution and the ones who vent for attention-seeking. I hope you are the former. The former always wins. Toward your journey, you need to stay sane. I mean it. People underestimate the stress and anxiety of the unknown and you will start putting in so many hours that you start googling symptoms and it’s a burnout. No one wants to work with a burned-out monster you will just break.
Surround yourself with people who support you and seek that clever friend who can act as a consultant in your time of need. Trust me, the people who care for you want to help you; just drop that ego and accept it. Do not vent off to a group of people, that’s crazy and the million opinions at a time will overwhelm you.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR JOB, JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO
Okay, before you start Peterpanning. Do not leave your day job unless your idea is off the ground and you start getting a stable income from it. Why? So you don’t become a starving artist and you can actually use the salary from your day job as capital to your business. The experience too will help you shape your soft skills and then build confidence to fully quit your job and dive in. It took me a year to save up and fully quit my day job for Sxill.
SOFT SKILLS HERE WE COME
You need to build a skill set to thrive in the world of entrepreneurship. Pick one every year as a goal and then start expanding it by practicing and by reading books. Self-motivation and being able to excite yourself by yourself is one of the major skills I had to learn, especially since I started my career 6 years ago and was always accustomed to working in large teams and under my boss’s supervision. Here are some skills I swear by and focus on:
While writing this article, I realized that I have learned so much in this journey of the start-up life. What people assume is that I have done it all myself, but really all this comes down to a team that longs for the journey of the ship where education is free and exciting and life lessons accompanied by experimental skills is the common language in our community. I guess, my next post needs to be about shaping a team.
Stay tuned for part two.