My journey after uni & why growth is NEVER a straight line…

Welcome back to my blog which is all about helping you to start and grow a business. 

The last few days, I’ve been getting dms from my community saying things like: ”oh my gosh, it looks like you’re really flying”; ”it looks like your business is doing well”; and ”well done! ”.

I did hit my first 10k month in my business this year and we’re on track to do a lot more than that by the end of this year which is great but it just made me think how it hasn’t always been this easy or this straightforward. 

So I wanted to create this video just to give you a bit of an idea of what goes on behind the scenes and what my journey has been like to get to where I am. Because it definitely hasn’t been a straight line it’s definitely been more of like a super squiggly line and I just hope that this video makes you feel better if you’re currently feeling lost or like you’re not on track to where you want to be in life. 

Even if you’ve been around my community for a long time, you don’t actually know that much about me or my journey so make sure you read until the end because I’m going to give you the full story and the full breakdown. And if you’re new here you’ll want to stay tuned because there were many lessons learned along the way.

I’ve always had a dream to have my own company from a really young age. I don’t know if that’s like a weird thing for a kid to dream about but that was me, I was the weird kid and I remember that when I got to 18 I just made a commitment to myself.

That commitment was that my 20s would be for experimenting so if I was doing something I loved and I’d found my business idea and I was actually making a lot of money by the time I was 30 then I would have been successful in my eyes. 

In my mind I had defined monetary success as making 100k a year, so I thought that if I made 100k a year by the time I was 30, tried many different things and found something I liked, then that would be great.

So when I graduated from uni this was literally me I had no idea what I wanted to do I just knew I wanted to be rich at some point which sounds really shallow but I promise you, i’m not. I still didn’t really know what my idea was and I was just planning to enjoy my life and hope It’s just gonna happen naturally. 

So I graduated from Bristol and then I actually went travelling and living abroad for like two years which was so much fun um and I never had a job during that time so i’ve literally only ever had one job and i’ll tell you more about that later but throughout this whole time that I was travelling and living in different countries I would always think of like a different way to support myself that didn’t involve getting a job. 

So I had multiple ventures set up. I would sleep on people’s sofas in exchange for things. That sounds really weird but it’s not weird I promise and yeah so that was pretty much my early 20s. 

Just travelling and I  guess finding myself and all of that which was so much fun but then I came back to the uk and I was like okay what next. At that time all of my friends were in full-time jobs so they’d all got their grad schemes and they were like earning loads of money so I still didn’t have a business idea and I was thinking that I should get a job because I can learn what it’s like and earn some money. I guess I just thought that I was missing out on something. 

I just wanted to see what life was like in a corporate environment so I started applying for jobs and i’m not even kidding you I must have applied to about 50 roles/50 jobs and got rejected from most of them or kept on getting to the interview stage and then saying something really wrong in the interview and getting rejected. 

I had a first class degree from a really good uni so I was definitely doing something wrong. No one wanted me and I remember at one point just getting rejection after rejection. 

I was in a toilet in central London just after an interview, crying my eyes out because the recruiter had called me and was just bollocking me saying things like: ‘’you did this wrong, you did this wrong no wonder you didn’t get the job” and I remember just thinking  i’m not cut out for this. So if you are currently applying for jobs in this market I feel you. It’s so demoralising and if you feel like you’re not cut out for it that might be a good thing and you’ll find out why. 

So somehow I got a job at a really cool company um a really fast-growing tech company and it was actually a sales role which at first I was a bit scared of because I never heard of sales before as a graduate. Like it’s not something that you know or you talk about at grad fairs. It’s not like a well-esteemed position but the more research I did the more I realised that actually this is a really great opportunity for what I want to do. 

Because if i want to have my own business i’m gonna have to sell and be good at sales, so I ended up taking the job and it was absolutely amazing. The company I was at was basically a really fast growing tech startup and they’re valued over like a billion now and have had a lot of drama in the press but I won’t name who they are.

 It was like it was the only job that would have ever been suited for me because it was super entrepreneurial. There weren’t very many rules and we got a lot of free reign to basically get clients. I lived the glam lifestyle for a while because we could basically fly out. We’d had to fly out to do the meetings so I would fly to three different cities in one week and stay in five-star hotels that  were expensive and all of the food and everything was on expenses. 

I remember thinking I would never run my company like this but I just had a load of cash. That was a really good experience because I just learnt so much about being in a fast-growing company. It is so eye-opening and my advice to you is: If you are looking for a job but you ultimately know that you want to have your own business then going into sales is absolutely amazing! 

You’ll learn so many transferable skills at a startup, but you’ll also gain so much experience in an environment that’s scaling, so if you’re getting a job or getting an internship at a startup, you’ll definitely learn a lot.

Anyway that job started off so well up to about a point when I started realising that even though this was technically my dream job I actually felt really empty and I realised that whatever I was doing if it wasn’t completely mine and I didn’t have full ownership over it then I wouldn’t be happy. 

It wasn’t about how much money I was making or anything like that, it was about me having control of my decisions. Around about that time I also purchased my first investment property so if you want to find out more about that purchase then make sure you watch this video here

(insert video to mt first property video)

It was a great time to buy because I was employed so it was a lot easier to get a mortgage that was all going great until I got fired. I can laugh about it now because I’m so glad it happened but at the time my confidence was crippled. 

It came out of nowhere and upon reflection I realised at the time my thought process was I just thought that my job was the most important thing and so when I got fired I equated that to: “I’m not going to be successful in anything else I do’’ and more importantly I thought I’m not going to be successful in business because a sales role is so similar to having your own business so it just massively knocked my confidence. 

I was just thinking if I can’t do that job then how am I ever gonna have my own company. I went into a bit of a retaliation mode um which is classic me but the kind of lessons I got from being fired were firstly I am never ever going to rely on someone else for my security and for my income again. 

I was so fortunate because I was able to live with my parents and have an investment property that brought me some income each month, but I thought I never want to be in this position again and I don’t want my family to be in this position when I’m older.

To me having a job and being fired that’s like the riskiest thing. I definitely want to have my own business where this just isn’t a reality but then there are so many other risks involved. At least you have ownership over it, that was my thinking. At this point the story gets a little bit dark so hopefully this helps someone. 

You may be feeling a little bit triggered by this if you suffer in some way with your mental health but basically I moved back home and as I was in this retaliation mode I decided to/I got inspired by this food that we have in Bulgaria because i’m Bulgarian and we don’t have it in the uk. I just thought this is a great idea. I’m going to rebrand this food product and I’m gonna bring it to the uk. I actually started this business and I’m gonna do a little flashback of it here.

The good old days um and in retrospect this business had no financial planning. I started it with zero savings and a food product; food manufacturing is known to be a very capital intensive business so you need a lot of capital to get started. It’s not really something that you can just like bootstrap so there was no thought behind: How would I financially support myself with this business? What ended up happening is even though I actually really enjoyed it and it was a good idea I think I ended up basically giving up on it and in my mind failing. 

At this food start-up and obviously I hadn’t really made any sales I’d exhausted all my savings in getting it set up. I was in a place where I was living at home. This had just failed or even worse I’d given up on it and I didn’t have any money. Obviously I had my income from my property but that was literally covering my expenses not even that and I kind of just went into a bit of a funk. 

That lasted for well over a year where I just wasn’t really myself and looking back it was like a dark time of my life. I think in retrospect if you’re someone who’s super ambitious and you like to be driven and then you kind of lose yourself and  that drive, it’s crippling. 

Because you think that you’ve lost yourself and that’s definitely what I felt like. All of my friends were in their jobs and they were earning loads of money while I failed. In my mind I just had no idea what was next. I was lost. I didn’t know what my next step would be and up until then it was always natural and it just followed my intuition. 

But even my intuition was gone and my confidence was so low and I think that’s why this period lasted a year. At this point I didn’t really see my friends, I really isolated myself. I felt like I couldn’t really join in with social activities because it was all in my head but I also didn’t have money to do that. Looking back on it, that was actually a really formative time and whilst it was really horrible going through it. I’m actually glad that I got lost in my early 20s as opposed to later on in life. Because I think a lot of people actually in their late 40s or later realise that they’re not on the right path um and I learned a lot and I’m grateful I went through that. Even though at the time it felt like the worst thing ever. 

Strangely enough what helped me during this time was going to property networking events so I knew I wanted to buy another investment property obviously not then but at some point in the future. So I started connecting with a lot of people in the industry and through doing that I realised there’s other people that are doing this. 

Maybe not they’re not as lost as me but there’s other people that are doing the whole entrepreneurial thing and we just had a lot in common. That’s what made me stop feeling so alone and that’s when I started to realise that actually it’s not weird that I’m going through this. Because it’s just part of the whole journey right. Connecting with other entrepreneurs really helped. 

Next section is going to give you some ideas about how you can save on living expenses if you’re just starting your business. I was slowly coming out of my slump that a lot of you might be in right now. If you are in a slump right now, put it in the comments because I’m here for you and I just really hope that this story makes you feel less guilty for feeling like that. 

We all do that to ourselves and it’s not easy to come out of that slump but yeah I was just coming out of it and began to realise that a huge reason I felt so bad was because I wasn’t independent and again you can relate if you are someone who’s very driven and independent but you are living with your parents and not earning enough in your 20s makes you feel like a failure.

Again I just thought okay if I can move out and just support myself with whatever means that is a job whether that’s freelancing whatever i can do if i can just move out and do that then i can get myself back on my feet. What I probably should have done at this point was get a job and then move out. But I obviously like to think outside the box and I was being super impatient so what I actually did was I put an ad on Gumtree

I do love Gumtree and this ad was actually me offering tutoring in exchange for living with a family in London. So when I was travelling one of the things I did was look after kids and teach them English. In this instance I was offering to teach French to a family and what ended up happening is I didn’t get a response from the family. 

I actually had someone reach out to me saying hey i’m not really your target audience but I do need some help around the house i’m an elderly lady um i’m disabled so I can’t really move and I just need someone to basically live with me and provide me companionship and maybe make me some cups of tea and stuff like that. 

So I was like yeah let’s chat and I actually think this is one of those moments where the universe just delivered because Kathy was living alone and I provided her with companionship. At the same time as hers I started my freelancing career and soon after my consulting  business we just became friends and I was there for her and she was always there for me to offer me a different perspective on things that you just wouldn’t get from someone your own age. It was just one of those weird moments where the Universe definitely transpired to make things work out. It was at that point that I started my consulting business and it slowly just grew. I used the network that I had built in the property investing circles and property companies. 

I hope that this blog provides you some comfort if you feel like your journey is currently going like this and you’re not quite sure if you’ll get where you want to be. I think there’s a lot of struggles that go on behind the scenes of when you are doing your own thing and starting your own business. So I just think it’s helpful to everyone if we’re a little bit more open about that. 

Thank you for taking your time to read and while you wait for next week’s blog make sure to check out my other pieces of content that are all about: Starting a business on Instagram and How to get your first few clients.

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