On my flight to Switzerland for my Christmas holidays, while reading the inflight magazine, I stumbled on an article by Kevin O’Leary. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s one of the self-made billionaires on the show Shark Tank. His show name is “Mr. Wonderful.” This is one of my favorite TV shows. I love watching people pitch their business ideas to the panel of billionaire entrepreneurs. Some ideas get represented. Some don’t. But lots of hopeful businesspeople come on every week to give it their best shot and try for a deal with one of the financial moguls.
Mr. Wonderful is the one on the panel who gives the truth to aspiring entrepreneurs in a brutally honest manner. He doesn’t mince his words, comes across as harsh, but he is spot on with his analyses and opinions!
In the article, he described how he started his own journey as an entrepreneur and what spurred him on to be a success.
His first job as a young adult? An ice cream scooper. He said people would often spit out their gum on the floor as they got ready to enjoy their ice cream. Kevin would then be asked by his boss to clean off the gum stuck on the floor at the end of the day, even though he’d been hired as an ice cream scooper. He refused to scrape gum, primarily because there was a girl he was interested in who worked across the road and he didn’t want to be spotted cleaning floors and being humiliated.
So he quit, and this was the turning point for him.
This taught him the difference between the two types of people in the world:
- those who own the store
- those who scrape crap off the floor
It was his choice. Kevin wanted to be the one who owned the store.
Being an entrepreneur is a choice you make. It’s not easy. The odds of success are low, but one must keep trying.
He also went on to say that if you want to be an entrepreneur out of greed and with the intention of amassing wealth, you’ll fail.
What matters is personal freedom. He wanted to have personal freedom for himself and his family.
I loved reading his story, mainly because this guy is someone who fascinates me during Shark Tank, and it was inspiring to read part of his story.
We all make New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of each year. Usually by February/March, most resolutions have been broken and forgotten and we are back on our old routines…in our comfort, static, non-evolving zones.
I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of the year. I soul search all year round. I’m continuously and actively examining my hopes, dreams, achievements, and path forward.
My personal longing to be an entrepreneur started from watching my parents growing up in Nigeria. Neither of them had the typical 9–5 civil-servant kind of job (which many parents had at the time). They were both business minded, entrepreneurial, and successful at what they did, despite a lack of advanced education. Their MBA was their broad-based, hardworking, and analytical minds.
Just like Kevin described in his article about wanting personal freedom, my parents absolutely had personal freedom. They were their own bosses, had their own schedules, worked hard, but had time to socialize, travel, and spend time with their children. They radiated contentment and fulfillment.
I saw this growing up and knew, no matter what career field I would choose for myself, I had to be a boss and be able to control my own schedule.
Fast-forward. I became a doctor, and I opened my own private practice, which is in its 14th year, employs 12, and is growing, serving the community, and it gives me a lot of personal fulfillment and freedom.
My brand-new author life also grants me a lot of personal freedom, as I can write anywhere and anytime. This path is still evolving for me, but I’m enjoying the journey, being fully present in it and visualizing the magnificent possibilities.
I’m a continuous soul searcher, not an occasional resolution maker.
I get in tune with what my soul longs for on a daily basis, and then I flow with it and align my actions, decisions, and human connections with it. I’m constantly but peacefully analyzing where I am, what I desire in the now, and what I desire in the future, and why I desire what I desire.
Like Kevin said, if your primary goal is to amass wealth, you’ll fail. I believe that strongly. My goal when I initially desired to own my own practice was to be able to control my own schedule so as to have more time for my kids, myself, and husband at the time. To be able to take longer vacations and just have personal freedom. My first job as a doctor in the US had me working long hours in three to four clinics that were in different parts of Atlanta, covering hospitals and working on the weekends two to three times a month.
It wasn’t for me. I quit after nine months because I had bigger dreams based on what I saw my parents do.
I wanted what Kevin now describes as personal freedom. I never described it that way or thought of it with those two words, but I now realize that was my desire.
Mind you, the personal freedom did not come overnight! I paid my dues, was persistent and resilient, pushed through the obstacles and naysayers, and was consistent.
The long and frequent vacations did not materialize till after about five years of consistency and growth. In the beginning, my kids’ summers were spent in my office with DVDs, games, and books to keep them occupied as I saw patients, marketed, and managed my practice.
As I expanded and hired doctors and more staff to work in the practice, the personal freedom showed up.
I still work hard today, of course, but with a lot more flexibility in my schedule.
I built a valuable business over 14 years, which has given me a lot of fulfillment, and I’ve also touched so many lives along the way, as they have touched me also.
If I ever decide to move on from it as my author career blossoms and demands more of my time, I know it will be worth a lot, as it’s a major investment on its own.
That is the true definition of successful entrepreneurship—building an empire that gives you personal freedom and becomes of high value and a potentially great investment. An empire that you can pass on to others and obtain great returns from it as you expand and evolve into more areas of entrepreneurship.
That’s my entrepreneurial story in a nutshell.
What’s your entrepreneurial story? Do you have one? Or are you still on the 9–5 circuit?
There’s nothing wrong with the 9–5 culture. Someone has to do it. But I still want to challenge you this brand new year.
Do you soul search on a daily basis? And then back that up with honest analyses of your life fulfillment and the amount of freedom you have? Or are you just complacent, OK, and don’t want to rock the boat? Do you prefer to not take any risks so you can be in your comfort zone?
The comfort zone that only allows you one or two long weekend vacations a year? The comfort zone where you are not truly happy or fulfilled? The comfort zone that feels tense and like a constant hustle hustle, grind grind and you’re not really impacting anyone’s lives? The comfort zone you’ve been in for too long and you’re staring at your 40s, 50s, 60s and not sure what path you’re on, need to be on, or would like to be on? The comfort zone that feels static and you’re not evolving, growing, and you still have to work so hard to convince people to join you or patronize your business?
If after three to five years, attracting clients to you is still a major struggle and not effortless, then you need major soul searching.
A sign you’re on the right path is after a few years, you become totally in demand. People will flock to your business effortlessly because you are of high value and providing a service that fulfills others.
If you’re still stressed out from trying to attract new and/or more clients, maybe that’s not your path. Maybe you need some major reevaluation and soul searching.
And for my complacent 9–5ers, if you’re happy and fulfilled doing this, then stay there.
However, if you have felt churning in your soul as you’ve read my story, my parents’ story, and Kevin O’Leary’s story, don’t ignore that churning. Please don’t. Maybe you need to explore the entrepreneurial field.
Let 2018 be the year you get on the continuous soul-searching mode. Try not to be the occasional resolution maker with one or two flimsy goals you’ll soon drop and then crawl back into your comfort zone.
Search your soul on a daily basis, be brutally honest with yourself, and you’ll end up as the store owner and not the floor crap cleaner.