Being an Entrepreneur was not my first job. I started as an English tutor earning pocket money when I was 16, worked in various hospitality/freelance translator jobs by age of 21, and started my real job after I graduated from University. But even then I knew, deep inside me that one day I will have my own business. I felt like a natural leader.
Start when you are ready!
I spent 5 years working for a corporate company in Shanghai, prior to pursuing my MBA in Monte Carlo and for those that have experienced Monte Carlo I am sure you get the idea of the value of networking. I just knew that after the MBA I can’t go back to corporate, I have to try my own luck. Why am I saying this? Because, in the conferences that I go to, I meet a lot of young people who don’t have any work experience and want to be entrepreneurs just because it often sounds “cool to work for yourself”. But don’t get fooled, it is a great responsibility, and you end up working for your employees, your company, your customers and probably you put yourself at the end.
And you love it! You love it because it’s part of you, it is this small idea that was “born” in your brain and you see it changing people’s lives as it grows.
Surround yourself with the right team!
My co-founder is my brother, Bojan Koskarov, a person that probably loves the company equally as I do, a person committed to the vision “ Successful career made possible” and to our growth.
When I got the idea of starting my own company, I was 27 and my brother 21. Neither of us has any entrepreneurial family background, although I had a corporate experience ( in the marketing field) and a business education. We made a lot of mistakes, we often spent more money for things that we could have spent less, but we were inexperienced.
If you take a lesson from my mistakes, on this note I would say that you are surrounded by accelerators and programs that support entrepreneurship. Take advantage of this, and spend time learning, understanding how business works and how it is run. Try to minimize the costs because if you don’t it might cost you the future of your company.
Don’t be afraid to dream big
A year after we launched the business, I got a call from a former colleague to join him at the “Forbes under 30” Summit in Tel Aviv. In that time, we have just invested in a new business space and I literally spent my last savings for that event. But I wanted to meet entrepreneurs like me from all around the world, I wanted to hear their stories, expand my horizons and get fresh ideas. When I arrived there I was so thankful to have spent 4 days networking with “creme de la creme” of the under 30 world. When they would ask me, are you on the list? I answered “No, I think I am too old for that, I am 28 I won’t make it.” Guess what, a year after both me and my brother were featured on the Forbes under 30 Europe list. A year after I was awarded in Davos during the World Economic Forum.
Did I visualize it? I did. Did I affirm it? Maybe, but I sure got it because I genuinely believed in myself and I worked hard for it. .
Challenge your KPI’s, check your milestones
One mistake we made for a period of time, was once we got into the bubble of work, we stopped reflecting on what we were doing right or wrong and just doing things. The truth is that even if you don’t run your company with KPI’s, milestones and key transactions your company might still run well, but you will end up running a mediocre business. We are here to reach our ultimate potential, not to do the same thing over and over again. If we do, how is entrepreneurship different from any 9-5 job?
So we stopped. We understood that we needed help and we looked for one. We joined an Accelerator programme based on weekly mentorship sessions with clear goals and we brought the entire team onboard. Why? Because growth is a team work.
When investors assess your deck, they ask for your team, because they want to know that even without you there, the company will still run, and run well.
Don’t forget to pull others, once you reach the top!
The first 5 years passed. If I look back, I can see 1000+ of students whose careers we have changed through our programs, we are present in 3 countries ( we are just opening in US, which is a great milestone) , we have learned new cultures, met thousands of people who have been touched by our vision, or they have touched us. We’ve overcome challenges, we’ve learned a lot, given back and improved the global community, but what I am most proud of is the others we’ve pulled to start their entrepreneurial journey as well.
Be open, remember who has been there for you, and be the change you want to see in others.
This is not a cliche talk, this is the impact that 20 years from now when you will look back you will want to see on you.
Make yourself proud, thank yourself and hustle everyday!