I believe that you have to have some thing that really sparks you when starting a business, a dream, a vision… however when you discover what that is it is easy to get carried away in the excitement and there is a real danger of burning out before you are even out of the starting blocks, a weird type of self sabbatage or like Icarus who flew too close to the sun.
So I always try to start small when venturing into unknown risky territory especially when the learning curve is steep. That was how I started my first business called Eye Love… But the birth of this particular dream goes all the way back to when I was 19 years old and sitting in a Sociology lecture. At the time we were studying a politicial sociological situation in South America some where. I can’t remeber exactly where but the country had exceptionally high unemployment, a high level of abuse of women and children and a high level of alcohol/drug abuse amongst the men. As a result the national health care bill was exhorbitant. So the government decided to try an experiment… they employed a vast number of men at minimum wage and had them dig holes, not that they really needed them to dig holes but they didn’t actually have any work for them to do so they just made up a task. They did this for a few months. The result was that alcohol/drug abuse decreased, abuse against women and children decreased and the governments national health care bill decreased by so much that they actually made a saving when off setting the cost of the labor of the men. That day in Sociology struch and stuck deep in my heart.. and so the dream that gave birth to my life as an entrepreneur was not just big but huge – to help decrease unemployment in South Africa, in the hopes that it would have a positive impact upon the lives of the people of this beautiful country of ours.
I knew nothing about running my own business and didn’t have money saved but at 26 years old I left my career path and started teaching knitting to a group of women in a township just outside of Cape Town called Masiphumelele. And boy did i make mistakes but I used to call them “school fees” because I was learning.. perhaps not having lots of money was a blessing because I had to go slow… and as we grew I reinvested the money.. I started out doing local markets, then I had a permanent stall at the Waterfront craft market, then a shop within a bigger shop, then I opened my first shop in Kwa-Zulu Natal.. And of course I had to take risks and still made mistakes but because they were small they didnt cripple me… eventually we had 4 branches and our Eye Love online store.
It’s been 19 years now and I am still learning all the time, most recently about online digital marketing which I believe is vital in today’s business world. I can’t recommend this course enough for anyone looking to learn digital skills. I have also developed a second business, called TrackBack Designs, which I have been able to launch globally as a result of my studies. I suspect I will never stop learning or making mistakes, I often tell my daughter I am more interested in her mistakes than her sucesses, that they are not some thing to get upset about, that they are like gold because without them you wouldn’t know where to focus. But I would never have gotten to where I am today if I had not had a dream big enough to hold onto through the mistakes, through the hard times.
So my question today is, “What is your dream?” Cause if you are able to find that, it will fuel you forever because you are aligned with your purpose and tapped into an infinite source.