“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
2016 was one hell of a roller coaster for me. It involved a steep learning curve followed by a dramatic dive into the world of code, graphic design and more. All this was necessary to create the business I wanted. This blog isn’t an ode to myself, a glowing self-aggrandizing tale of my accomplishments or a subtle, yet equally irritating, humble brag about starting a business. It is just a story of a guy finding what he wants to do. Then going and doing it.
Working at Tesco
Last year began, similar to the year previous, with me working as a retail assistant at Tesco. I was overqualified for this job but I had no real idea of where the year was going to take me or what I was going to do. I knew I was creative, had a passion for marketing and a burning desire to solve business problems. This self-awareness armed me somewhat for what lay ahead.
I remember spending my lunch hours at work reading articles on entrepreneur.com and Forbes. But I always felt an inner angst that I was learning stuff that I wasn’t able to apply. I didn’t have a career in marketing. Nor had I any experience in starting a business. I had no future at Tesco. So all this knowledge I was earnestly accumulating was in effect going to waste.
It was a catch 22 situation. I was constantly learning every day at work and outside it. I would critically study all of Tesco’s marketing efforts. Not only Tesco but other retail brands – their packaging, visual merchandising, in-store visuals and more. As a result, this led me to hold a strong opinion on the retail sector as well as an in-depth knowledge of best practices.
By the end of my time there, I was practically packing shelves while studying every product’s packaging. Anybody watching must have questioned my sanity. However, I had an excuse for my madness. At the time, I was learning Photoshop and was investigating how brands visually present their products. I had also become obsessed by visual marketing over the last few months. My judgemental eyes comparing one brand to another, much like a guy at a bar compares that hot blonde to that pretty brunette. Sometimes, a wandering eye is a good thing.
Finding my way
As the year went on, self-analysis and introspection gave me depths of insight about myself. I liked marketing. I was drawn to the advertising sector due to its necessity for creativity. If only, I could either find a job that could utilize my talents or I would probably spend the rest of my life in regret.
Being honest, I never really pursued a job in marketing with the necessary vigor. Most of the jobs in marketing seemed to be going to the big city. I wasn’t particularly enamored with city life due to it’s caged lifestyle and high rental prices. Moreover, I think we all graduate, get a degree and then just go to work in that sector without any more thought. Then, you ask people do they like what they do and they say it “pays the bills”. That answer didn’t satisfy me. I wanted something more. A job I could be passionate about. A company with a larger mission, where creativity is encouraged and change is not feared.
I was pulled in various directions. I’m sure my many different hobbies didn’t help. I contemplated a career in personal training or fitness at one stage. Maybe even a general position within a business performing multiple roles as I tend to get bored easily. HR intrigued me also. I liked cooking and thought about becoming a chef specializing in healthy food recipes. Fortunately, as 2016 gathered pace, it all started to come together. I accepted my prime talent was in marketing. I merely needed to summon the courage to grab/create an opportunity.
Starting a Business
I felt the best way to get into marketing was starting a business. I had always dreamed of it. A marketing agency focused mainly on visual marketing would be my way forward. This would allow me to express my creativity. I had also discovered how important visual marketing is in forging connections with customers. On the other hand, I knew it would be difficult. I was in two minds.
Paradoxically, I felt my talents might be more suited to working at a larger company that could better develop some of my ideas and skills. At the same time, I really believed in visual marketing and felt it was worth pursuing if even as a hobby. I decided to go ahead with starting a business.
Besides, my front lawn wasn’t exactly being muddied by rival CEO’s entrenched in eager, fierce and titanic battles to acquire my services. Each filled with a ravenous hunger to offer me that golden ticket. With Elon Musk proudly holding the severed head of Jeff Bezo’s in the air, before a plane suddenly enters from the horizon. That would be Richard Branson, in a heavily armored Virgin Atlantic Airbus, which peppers the charred battlefield with venomous bullets forcing Elon to duck for cover.
Inches away, Jack Ma isn’t as fortunate, with bullets penetrating his aged metal plated armor causing both his body and samurai sword to drop slowly in sync to the ground. And while war cries echo the land waking my neighbours, I sleep soundly knowing that whatever is happening outside, a prestigious marketing career awaits. No, I wasn’t that lucky. My lawn remained well-tended and absent the scars of battle.
Anyway, it’s always said the best way of learning is by doing it for yourself. I cannot preach to you how true that is. If you haven’t got a job from your college degree despite a passion for the subject, then just start your business if only part time. Create your own experience if someone else won’t give it to you.
Going All In
I started BXT, working on a part-time basis until a while back. I had reached the stage where I was putting the work in at home, learning everything from web development to graphic design. As a result, I just realized, life’s too short. Every day at Tesco was a day where I was not growing. My Time could be better spent up-skilling and learning the skills needed to forge a great career in marketing.
So I quit and went to work full time at BXT. In the beginning, I did fear I wouldn’t put the work in as I find it difficult working without structure. In entrepreneurship, it can be difficult to organise your day efficiently and set attainable goals. However, I have managed to create structure in my new work life. A diary has helped. Ultimately, every day I now feel my brain is expanding rapidly like a balloon at the breast of a pump.
So 2017 is here and I just can’t wait. It’s going to be a great year. I hope yours will be the same. If you haven’t found what you want to do, relax there is plenty time. Don’t let money enter the equation, it just confuses things. Just focus on what you’re good at and do it every day. It really is that simple.