When I started my entrepreneurial journey as a full-time entrepreneur, there were only 2 employees in the company. Lasse, who was a developer, and me, who was the director, and who solved all the other tasks in the company: Purchasing, sales, marketing, customer support, order management, cooperation agreements, finance, strategy, etc.
A Daily Struggle for Survival
We didn’t have any fixed phone times and the customer service phone was my cell phone number allowing customers to call me 24/7 any day of the year. And so they did.
During the summer holidays, I was painting a cottage with one hand, and using the other hand to pick up the phone and provide customer service. My iPhone was splattered with white paint blobs after that summer.
When I walked on the streets of Berlin during the autumn holidays, I also took the customer calls, hoping that they did not discover the more expensive telephone tariff that their calls would cost. Every day was a struggle to create a bigger turnover and a bigger profit in order to get some money into the coffers. I was very conscious of not spending money if it wasn’t strictly necessary. My financials were under pressure all the time. When I quit my salary job and went full-time as an entrepreneur, I also went down to less than half pay, so my private economy was also very squeezed on the home front.
✅ I was squeezed from everywhere, literally fighting for my life.
Like a Fish in the Water
I remember feeling like a fish lying on its side in the shallows, gasping for breath because the water (i.e. the economy) was too low for me to straighten up and swim.
I was honestly struggling to survive, dreaming that there would be enough water (i.e. enough money) for me to swim out onto the vast oceans and conquer new land. I dreamed of getting enough finances to be able to hire some employees to oversee customer service, order management, purchasing and marketing, I dreamed of having more opportunities to do what I was passionate about: developing and scaling the business, trying off new strategies and creating a large and successful business.
The Dream – and the Longing
Some years later, I actually achieved everything I ever dreamed of. I ran a multi-million dollar business, had +20 employees, had crossed the border, had some money in the bank, had received the gazelle prize (a Danish entrepreneurial award, red.), had been included in Krak’s Blue Book, etc. It was super cool and a huge release. Except… There is always an “except”.
✅ The bigger the business became, the more time I had to spend on administration, management, and meetings.
The processes became more complex, the system became heavier, it took longer to implement new things, and I had to work harder to maintain the entrepreneurial culture of the company. In short, all the “boring” things took up more and more of my everyday life the bigger the business became. And that’s when I began to long for those early years as an entrepreneur. It was a tough couple of years, but it was also some super fun and cool years.
It was during those years when I really created something new. It was in the early years as a full-time entrepreneur I faced new exciting challenges on a daily basis and learned new things. Where I got to solve tasks I never imagined – from strategic to operational level – because there was no one else to do it. It was also during those years when I could change most of the business with a snap of the finger, as long as it didn’t compromise the tight financial framework. All of those, things I enjoyed to the full.
Enjoy your Entrepreneurial Journey
✅ So, dear entrepreneur, my message to you is that you should ENJOY your trip to the MAXIMUM.
Enjoy your entrepreneurial journey to the fullest. Also – or perhaps especially – the first years when you are under the most pressure, and work like a lunatic, and long to get more money, and a bigger business. Because it’s probably in the very first years when you create the most and develop the most, where you actually win the biggest victories, and where the most amazing things happen in your life. And these are perhaps the very years that you will remember with the most joy and tell your grandchildren about. In retrospect, I think my whole entrepreneurial journey has been absolutely amazing. But especially in my first years, I felt like a fish in the water – in a good way.
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