Disclaimer: There is a difference between loneliness and being alone, given that I work from home, I attend a lot of events to balance the time being by myself and around other people. I don't feel lonely at home but working for myself full time I spend a lot of time alone.
I’ve learned to enjoy my own company
“So why don’t you have a co-founder?” Many people have asked me this question, and to be honest I’m still getting to know people here in Bangkok, plus at such an early stage of my startup, I’m still filtering the right people out. Though, I do have a small team of freelancers from my network, it was only after 2 years of living, socialising and networking in Bangkok I found people that I was comfortable enough with (It goes both ways) to come on board. Many people in my network are entrepreneurs or small business owners that too work from home or split their time in a co-working space, and when I asked them how do they manage to balance their time with friends, family, and work, I learned that we all have 2 common characteristics: need for independence and a need to control our life. When you work for yourself, you have more flexibility to create your own schedule, spend time with family, friends, and can work long or unusual hours.
Working from home
I frequently travel by myself, I moved to different countries by myself, I can confidently eat by myself, go to the movies by myself, however, starting a business by yourself is different.
Working from home has it’s benefits, you can wake up and work from bed, you can take naps and eat whenever you want, and you can save money by not renting out an office space. Ok, no serious entrepreneur is doing this, and yes it’s good to separate work life and home life, but the best thing about being home, for me, is my ability to focus my creativity. I’m creative in my kitchen by making hair products, my most creative writing has come from writing on my coffee table, and I get inspired by listening to podcasts and music. If I were to say my 3 strongest characteristics I would say: creativity, my positive energy, and that I’m really organised (hence why I went into teaching) but having these traits work very well only in the right environment/ecosystem, with the right people, and with a great support system.
What does that mean? Example, Israel (I know I talk about this a lot but my time there has shaped me into this confident, tech-savvy, “tell-it-like-it-is,” Blair, the entrepreneur) so Israel has one of the best startup ecosystems in the world, so many tech meet ups and groups, people are willing to help with connections, share and build ideas, and the excellent support from the private and government institutions. Could I do what I’m doing now, back in the US? Absolutely not.
Entering the startup ecosystem
I didn’t know anybody that owned their own business, the words “startup,” “entrepreneur,” and “co-working space,” were simply not in my vocabulary 4 years ago.
From time to time I come across a book that changes my life, one book that changed my life was “Start-up Nation” by Dan Senor, Saul Singer. And both tell the story of Israel’s startup culture and ecosystem (I recommend all entrepreneurs to read this book). So how did this book “change my life?” Well, I come from a small town and from and an insular religious community, so growing up everyone just worked and our social lives revolved around the church. I didn’t know anybody that owned their own business, the words “startup,” “entrepreneur,” and “co-working space,” I learned 4 years ago. Once I decided I wanted to work for myself I didn’t have any examples or role models in my immediate circles. In fact, when I was telling one of my professors about what I was doing she told me, “Angela you want to be an entrepreneur!” and that is when I realised, OMG, she’s right! I wasn’t just “starting a business” I was building a startup!
When my professor recommended this book, it opened up a new world for me. And at that time I was headed to do my graduate studies in Israel so I was excited to learn more about what a startup ecosystem entailed. I went online and found free online classes to learn how to programme and build websites, found online communities like Github, I found events to socialise and network with other entrepreneurs, I even documented my journey on Facebook because I was so excited to share my new journey. Discovering the online startup ecosystem really changed my perspective of what it meant to be successful and happy, which is narrowly defined as: go to school, find a job, get married, have kids, retire after 40 years and explore then travel world. I’ve always been the creative type, this traditional model to happiness and success didn't sit well with me.
I’m very stubborn, and for a while I just couldn’t accept that selling products was what friends and my friends friends wanted, so they too can healthy have beautiful hair.
When I started I had no plans to sell hair products, I wanted to create content and a community for beauty entrepreneurs to connect. I began to sell products because I had a few extra hair products and my friends wanted to try and buy my hair products. And once I finally pivoted to sell hair products, I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know where to buy supplies like jars, shampoo bottles, and takeaway bags , I didn’t know how to sell products online or on social media, all I knew was how to make a few hair masks and style hair. But I eventually found my way and explored Chinatown, I found a place to print my labels and do my packaging, I learned how to sell on Facebook and LINE@, and I have found experienced entrepreneurs to mentor me. This journey really began with my creative needs and find my own path to live a happy and successful life. It’s not easy, and I work a lot, but I take everything day by day.
As always, thank you for reading!