I was hooked by the magical world of computer games
I still remember my first time seeing a computer as a five-year-old kid, whose excitement peaked when looking at someone playing a computer game. I was immediately hooked by that magical world, and certainly, my parents were afraid that I would be playing too many games, thus neglecting my studies and hurting my eyes. As a result, they did everything they could in their power to prevent me from using a computer.
I deep-dove into the IT books and materials that my father would bring back and finally gained access to my family’s computer without my parents’ approval
However, life makes turns in the most unexpected ways possible. As my father used to work as an IT teacher, he brought home many valuable and helpful IT-related materials. With a burning urge to unlock the computer, together with a curious mind, I deep-dove into those books.
That was my first exposure to programming. I then managed to practice some of the instructions and finally gained successful access to the family’s computer without my parents’ approval. At that very moment, I knew I had found my path: I want to become a software engineer.
“Cashflow Quadrant” enlightened me on how money moves and how wealth can be created
In addition, my father was a fan of the series: “Rich dad, poor dad” (by Robert Kiyosaki). The series talks about how the mindset of the rich differs from the rest. My favourite part of the book was the Cashflow Quadrant, which enlightened me on how money moves and how wealth can be created.
Salary is not the only source of income that you can earn, and in fact, it is the most inefficient way of generating income. That has changed my viewpoint of the world and gradually planted seeds that bloomed into an entrepreneurial mindset.
Those two events have set the founding stones in building the person I am today: an entrepreneurial software engineer.
I have always loved building whatever I want, including products and a community of my own
My role model is Steve Jobs- I want to achieve perfection as much as possible and deliver to customers a care-free experience. Besides, I have always loved building whatever I want, including products and a community of my own. This community is a group of people with whom I work. With that in mind, I have been seeking opportunities where I can fulfil my passion, and entrepreneurship is the best choice.
I was given the opportunity to wear many hats, build a product from scratch and be my own boss in making decisions
I met my business partner, Trung Nguyen, when I was still an intern in front-end development. He was a nice guy and had always tried his best to let me shine with my full potential. Although that company no longer exists, we still keep in touch. We never knew that it would turn into something much more than just mentorship.
Later on, I joined a Finnish startup. Before joining this company, I had never been given the chance to build a product from scratch or be my own boss in making decisions, which are, in my opinion, what most entrepreneurs do. I was given an opportunity to wear many hats. I was trusted with different responsibilities as if I was one of the founding members.
Make the workplace my dream working environment
I must admit that it was a rough ride but I managed to learn a lot and gained a valuable and diverse network that has supported my entrepreneurship path thereafter. I was also given time to build the company’s culture and make the workplace my dream working environment.
I then saw the rewards of being an entrepreneur, and the time working in this startup has thus inspired me to one day build my own. In fact, many cultures in the current company that I am managing were borrowed from that startup.
Last year, I finally seized the chance to do what I always dreamt of: managing my own company. So I invited Trung to a cafe session, and we made a plan. It has been more than 1 year since.
Despite not being able to reach our revenue goal due to the pandemic, we compensated by having a happy team and strengthened our competencies
I remember when we were reviewing our first financial report, it was such a remarkable experience since it showed us how good we were in a year, especially after just 4 months of operation.
Then the covid-19 was a challenge for me as an entrepreneur. I needed to make careful decisions in HR, finance, customer relationship, and needed to prepare for the worst. Fortunately, with the support of my team and my business partner, the company’s finance was not in a bad shape, and the team still managed to stay sane and happy during the pandemic. After the critical time of the pandemic, we even got more projects to handle, which has proved our trustworthiness within our customer network.
We also managed to help our international team members meet the requirements of the working permit in Finland. Furthermore, we have also welcomed one amazing software architect into the team, which allows us to be more confident in our capabilities of building a complete software system.
Despite not being able to reach our revenue goal due to the pandemic, we compensated by having a happy team and strengthened our competencies.
Managing finance and ensuring human interaction is important
Through my entrepreneurial journey up until now, I have learnt two important lessons:
- Always prepare beforehand and put the finance in order (preferably 6 months in advance). Anything can happen.
- During hard times, human interaction is even more important. You need to find a way for the team to spend time bonding even if face-to-face meetings cannot be realized.
I value the freedom of making my own choices
Entrepreneurship is an awesome experience but it is not for everyone. Personally, I would not have chosen this path if some incidents in the past had happened which fortunately did not. 🙂
Back in the day, I used to join several startups as a technical member of the core team, and a lot of times I had high hopes that I may stick with one team for a long time and enjoy the growth. However, startup life is hard and the last startup I joined could not promise me that long-term commitment. That was one of the biggest motivations that pushed me to start my own company.
Another incident is that during my past years I also got several chances to work with a stable tech company. I could probably enjoy my career that way as well, but I still decided to continue with my own path, since I value the freedom of making my own choices. Therefore, the entrepreneurial mindset is something I would say I have acquired through time and through my own first-hand experiences.
Through entrepreneurship, I can create my own company culture, job opportunities and help customers realize their business visions
My favourite aspects of being an entrepreneur are to be my own boss and to create an impact that also benefits others, including teammates, customers, and suppliers. More specifically, I can create my very own company culture and build the kind of workplace that everyone enjoys and where everyone feels motivated.
I can also rotate through different departments of the company, from finance to human resources and marketing. What’s even more rewarding is that I get to create job opportunities for the pool of talented people and help customers realize their business visions.
“What happens if my team is unhappy but they don’t tell me?”
On the other hand, entrepreneurship also means uncertainty from time to time. You will not know what can happen next. Most notably, this pandemic! In addition, your head will be filled with a ton of questions, such as “What happens if we run out of customers?”, “What happens if my team is unhappy but they don’t tell me?” or “Will the company situation improve or will it be as it is currently for a long time?”.
After many rounds of overthinking, you will then have to make several critical decisions that not only affect you but the whole chain of stakeholders. Although having the authority to make decisions is great, sometimes, you just wish to get rid of it.
Nonetheless, I do not regret taking on this entrepreneurial path. Those challenges do not discourage me. In fact, they make the experience even more wholesome.
What to invest in
Speaking from experience, I’d say that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, we should invest our time into three things:
- Invest in learning how to stay focused and calm most of the time, since you are the one in charge of your own business; losing your cool won’t be a good idea.
- Invest in your mental, and of course, physical health. Without them, you would easily collapse.
- Communication skills. You will need to interact with a LOT of people, including customers, team members, and so on.