Silently last month, I had an opportunity to celebrate my 10th anniversary as an entrepreneur. On December 15, 2003 I registered my company "apivision.com" and was officially in business. I was kinda-self employed before, as I was trying to build, hack and sell things while studying at the university, but in 2003 right after my graduation I decided to officially open up my one-man-shop business. In this post I'll share with you a few lessons I learned and why I love every minute of it and why I still believe passion is what matters to me the most.
As I already posted on my blog, my parents inspired me to start a company. They both are very entrepreneurial and seeing them working on their own in the post-communist Poland and seeing their freedom, ups, downs and everything surrounding entrepreneurship I also wanted to be like them.
I studied business and graduated from business school and also learned to speak several foreign languages - folks like me would start sending out CVs after graduation to the biggest companies they knew... and I decided not to. I opened up my own "Internet company" and as Michael Hyatt likes to put it, "failed my way to a success". Here's what I learned:
There is no failure - there's only feedback
I don't remember who said it, but I love it. Just read my company's about page - I failed several times until I managed to build Nozbe and have a real shot at building a sustainable business. One of the reasons I failed before was the fact that I was trying to find a business that was lucrative... instead of finding the one I was passionate about. Being a very disorganized person and trying to improve my own time management by reading the GTD book and other blogs and information I felt motivated to build Nozbe for myself and it succeeded because I was passionate about it. I was "scratching my own itch" and it worked. Turns out there are more people on this planet that like to be productive like me :-)
Building a business is a hard but a very rewarding growth process
I'm growing together with my company and that's the best "growth experience" ever. I started solo, built the first version of Nozbe, did customer support, marketing and everything else. Only when I knew I was serious about my new product I decided to hire first two people - a programmer and a customer support person. Both are still working with me and growing with the company, too. Slowly I started hiring more, made some mistakes, made some good decisions and now we're a team of 15 and I'm getting even more comfortable to expand it even further. But unlike most companies, we're growing organically and hiring only when we desperately need a new person for a certain position.
That being said, if everything goes according to plan, this year we'll almost double our team size.
Still working on the same product?
Nope, Nozbe is not the same. It started as a web application but now it's a suite of apps and this year we'll finally have made the transformation to a mobile-first company. It's been a big transition from us and we just have to re-invent ourselves in order to stay relevant on the market. And this is what I love about our industry. Constant challenges - it just never gets boring.
Moreover, the more I work on my product the more possibilities I see for it. It's amazing what's ahead of us and I can really imagine working on "the same thing" for many years to come. After almost 7 years of working on Nozbe I feel like I'm just getting started.
What's next for me?
Keep growing, keep doing what I love, keep growing my team and helping them grow with me. 10 years ago when I started my company it was one of the best decisions of my life... and I can see it more clearly than ever looking at our product and our team working together for it. Life's great!
Question: What are your experiences? What's next for you? Do you also love what you do?
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- Michael Sliwinski