My Entrepreneurship Journey: Start Small

Starting a business may seem intimidating, especially if you don’t have all the necessary skills and resources. However, it’s important to remember that entrepreneurship is not about being perfect or having everything in place before starting. In fact, it’s often easier to start small and gradually build your skills and resources as you go.

Many people believe that being an entrepreneur requires a lot of courage and the ability to sell, but this isn’t necessarily true. While these skills can certainly be helpful, they are not the only factors determining success in business. In fact, even those who have been laid off from their jobs and don’t have a lot of resources can find success as entrepreneurs.

Getting caught up in the idea that you need to have everything figured out before starting a business is easy, but this can often lead to stagnation and inaction. Instead, it’s better to start with a small idea and gradually build on it as you learn and grow. Remember, the key to success in entrepreneurship is taking action and learning from your experiences.

Like ripening fruit, it’s good to start a business with thorough preparation, but being too ripe can cause it to rot. Take the middle road and be prepared but don’t take too long to prepare, or you’ll lose your momentum.

To start entrepreneurship, start with a question. The question is simple: “Is the current income sufficient for us?” Sufficient means we can meet our daily needs every month. Sufficient means we can set aside the income for savings, emergencies, and for future preparation.

If the answer to the question is “not sufficient,” don’t just sit there. Being inactive and doing nothing is like the story of a frog being boiled in water that is slowly heated to boiling. If the frog is placed in hot water, it may jump out in shock, but if it is placed in cold water and then slowly heated, it may feel comfortable and warm in the water until the water becomes too hot and it is no longer able to jump, and everything becomes too late.

Does this sound familiar? Yes, it’s like us who already know that the answer above is “not sufficient” but don’t try to find a solution. Being inactive and doing nothing even though we know that waiting for a big miracle is likely to be in vain. Do we want to be like a frog who is late to realize, and when it’s time to start a business, everything is already too late, and we lose our momentum?

I’m not trying to scare you because my experience is similar to the above story. I always worry when I realize the above, my heart hurts, but I am also confused about what to do. If I can say I’m lucky, the combination of my habit of reading books and articles, supported by prayers from my family, combined with the help of my friends, gave me some alternatives.

I wrote the story here (in Indonesian):

Once we are aware of our position, we can start thinking about what we can do to at least increase our savings. There are now more opportunities that we can take, even without leaving our daily jobs.

We can create a book, print it, and sell it. We can create an ebook sold as an indie label. We can become drop-shippers, selling without having to physically own the goods. We can create a hosting service that we can manage whenever we come home from work. We can use our expertise to offer courses on weekends. Provide private English lessons, Quran lessons, painting lessons, writing lessons, graphic design lessons, and anything that can be customized to our abilities.

What needs to be done is to list everything we can do with little or no capital, then choose which jobs have a high potential for success, do not interfere with work or household, and do not require relatively large capital.

Start small. Start with something small, something easy to do. If you want to sell meatballs, you can use equipment usually used in the kitchen. If you want to make potato donuts, you can start by making a few donuts first (of course, you need to calculate the component costs). Even more importantly, it is a great opportunity to start and grow your business if you already have potential buyers.

Maximize all efforts to get income. Cut expenses as much as possible. Make sure the expenses are indeed unavoidable needs. For example, the expenditure of buying potatoes and flour to make potato donuts cannot be replaced with other ingredients; otherwise, it will be called something else 🙂

When starting a business, ignore the lifestyle. You are not cool if you get a large influx and injection of capital while your ability is to spend the capital money on lifestyle alone.

There is also no one who raises you cool just because you work every day in a cafe to be considered a cool startup generation while you are in trouble paying the coffee bill.

I don’t mean to dichotomize two conflicting things or to always seem simple in every situation and condition. We can and have the right to make ourselves comfortable as long as we do not sacrifice basic needs.

When I started Excellent a few years ago, my capital was just one laptop and a modem. I worked alone, with the main target being to meet daily living needs and cover the cost of electricity and internet bills. After these basic needs were met, I moved on to the next stage, trying to save and increase my income so I could later hire a colleague to help me.

For years, Excellent’s office, where I worked, was my own home. Initially, in the unused front room, make a room on the 2nd floor, expand, complete, and gradually increase it to accommodate the increasing number of teams.

Every time I added a team, I calculated Excellent’s ability to pay for it. Not just for a month or two but for 6 months or 1 year ahead. I relied on public transportation or my own motorcycle. For lunch, I used to cook rice to make it cheaper and able to cover a larger number of team members.

We save every excess income every month. We increase the portion so the emergency reserve fund can be even larger. So that we can work freely without worrying too much about monthly operational costs. By reducing expenses and efforts to increase income, we can gradually save a little to create a buffer for operational costs for 1 month. Then gradually becomes 2 months, 3 months, and 6 months until reaching our minimum target of 1 year of emergency reserve funds.

Even though Excellent has been around for a long time, I’m not worried if it’s still a small company. I prefer a strong foundation, healthy and gradually bigger, rather than forcing ourselves to grow beyond reason.

Growing big is not a crime, and if there are colleagues who can do that, it should be appreciated. What must not be forgotten is not to achieve a target to get recognition. Because basically, we are entrepreneurs to improve the quality of our lives, the lives of our families, and the lives of our environment.

So, when do we start taking small steps by asking ourselves, “Is what we have been getting so far sufficient to meet our daily and future needs?”

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