The definition of petrifying is something which is so scary that it prevents the experiencer from moving. And that is exactly what starting a business feels like. It is so scary that you can so easily be feared into passivity, or side lining, or just giving up before you’ve even started. Strangely enough I don’t feel petrified as I’m at the cusp of such a venture. Instead I’m scared I will be petrified, at just the wrong time. Let me explain.
I moved to Madrid in September. All so I could still be with the girl I had met months before that. That lead me to moving and getting a job teaching English. This isn’t the job I want, I want to run my own business and one day run a business and make films for myself with my own money. So whilst I’ve been here in Spain I’ve learned what my greatest fear is, stagnation, the fear of not actually doing anything. Nothing scares me more than time passing and not achieving anything, I’m not in the business of not doing something. Yes I love to get up late and veg out as much as the next guy. But overall I have to be producing something, moving towards something or working with some goal in mind and that is tough to do in a country where you are still learning the language. When you know where you want be in the future it feels fruitless to start building something to then uproot it. I haven’t stagnated so far, but I feel that each day that passes that I’m not growing this company that doesn’t even exist yet I am edging closer and closer to passivity. I am itching to move back to England and start building something. Not that it couldn’t be built here, but for the long hall I want to start working on it at full pace whilst in England. With no distractions.
“Freedom is oxygen for me”
Since being here in Madrid it has really driven home how much I love people who can start their own thing. My boss built her own English school after working around Europe in several schools and countries teaching English and Spanish. The school has now been running for three years and is growing bit by bit. What I’ve also learned is that I don’t like working for other people, I have a great boss in a great company, and I’ve still been able to realize I would rather be in control of my own thing. When I was a teenager I always wanted to be a freelance photographer, and I think that concept of freedom has never left me. Freedom is oxygen for me, I would rather make a decision and fall flat on my ass than be carried by someone else’s safety net my whole life. Easy for me to say when I’m 23 with limited world experience and an incredible family and support network behind me whatever I do. I haven’t fallen on my ass, I haven’t had to carry myself, and as much as I try to distance myself and become completely independent that still hasn’t happened. It’s something that I really want to work on about myself.
It’s also hard because there is so much of a hustle mentality in the world right now, everyone feels they can build their own business, everyone follows someone who did it for themselves and grew their own product, or service or business. That’s great, the fact that we feel like we can start our own business rather than be reliant on huge investment companies and all the rest is brilliant. It shows a changing world economy which I think is really exciting. Working with smaller firms where all the employees fit inside a minibus is exciting, it’s now easier and more common to feel jaded by bigger companies, that you are lost in the system, just a number on a spreadsheet. The fact that so many multinational companies now want to appear like smaller firms, just with more reach, shows how important this personalized touch is. We want to feel like we know the company personally, and that the company knows us personally.
“Will I sink or swim?”
So it’s much more socially acceptable to start your own venture now. It’s great to do your own thing and carve your own path, in fact it is often encouraged. That’s all well and good when you’re sat having coffee and discussing an idea with someone, it’s very different when you are sat trying to plan bank accounts, insurance, official registration and desperately trying to pull together a marketing strategy that doesn’t just scream “Help we have no money! We need your business to eat!”. Often it feels like everyone else out there has a great plan and a great idea of what they’re doing now and what they’re going to be doing every step into the future. And that’s true for some people, but I firmly believe that most of us have no idea what we’re doing. Most of us are just a combination of gut feeling, confidence and making things work, making do with what you’ve got. There is no intention of desperately trying to find a venture capitalist to invest a cool million in my fiancée and I. There is every intention of scrounging together whatever we can, spending money where it is needed and scrimping out where possible, and I will prefer it this way. I prefer the challenge and work of something. However it is all easy for me to say this sat in my living room in Madrid, only having to teach for two hours this evening. My fear is that when it comes down to it, will I sink or swim?
My biggest hurdle right now is that when I return to England I want to hit the ground running. I’m fortunate enough to be going down this road with the woman I love, and I feel that will help both of us to push the other and keep ourselves on track, working together is something that excites us. The next few months are the training sessions, the time to learn, practice and visualize what is going to happen when the wheels touch down. I am not scared of doing something hard, of having no money, of working all day for no progress, I am scared that the second it becomes all or nothing, I could let it become nothing.