The year I went from micropreneur to company owner
Happy 2020!!! 🎉 Exactly one year ago, I was at the airport, traveling to Chiang Mai. 2018 was the year in which I embraced Minimalism as my philosophy of life. It was a year of discovery, exploration, and travel.
Tomorrow, I will be traveling to Zagreb, in Croatia. 2019 has been the most intense year of my life. It’s been an exhausting year, but a very rewarding one at so many levels.
My company, Companio, has grown from a small venture to a six-figure business with ten employees in four countries and more than two hundred and fifty customers.
Does this mean I am no longer a micropreneur? While I am not that interested in semantics, I still think being a micropreneur does not depend on the number of people in your team.
But something has definitely changed. I have found almost no articles discussing the transition I have experienced this year, so I decided to share my thoughts on how I went from micropreneur to company owner.
Growing is scary
Growing is scary. It’s exciting, of course, but also frightening. In late August, Companio had roughly one hundred customers. In less than four months, this amount had doubled.
And that worries me a lot. Managing a business is complex. There is always room for improvement. Important parts of the business are often neglected because of the urgent stuff. Finding the right balance between delegation, hiring employees, and being profitable is not easy. Especially when it’s the first time you find yourself in that situation.
My husband insists I should enjoy this trip instead of being always worried. And I do. I enjoy it. But at the same time, I can’t help but worry. Stoicism showed me I should stop being such a perfectionist. But still, it is a struggle for me.
Taking brave decisions
The turning point for me was a serious infection that took me to a hospital in Riga during the summer of 2018. One of the main causes was stress. I burnt out.
I had been trying to do it all by myself, refusing to hire people. Why? On the one hand, there was perfectionism. It’s hard to get over the feeling that nobody is going to do the work as perfectly as you.
But the real reason was: I was scared. Just as I was scared of quitting my job and becoming a freelancer a decade ago. I had no idea how to manage a remote team, how to hire people, especially people would never meet in person, etc.
When you work solo, everything is comfortable. You know who you are. You know where you are. Nobody relies on you. Having a team, getting used to weekly standup meetings, managing resources, sharing knowledge, and preparing the infrastructure for a whole team was a challenge.
Thinking small, acting big?
Does that mean I am no longer a micropreneur? Not at all. In my mind, a micropreneur is not someone who runs a business all by himself. It’s someone who runs his business as if it was a small business. Caring about every customer. Just like a minimalist symphony, every note is essential and needs to resonate beautifully alone. If the note is out of tune, the whole piece suffers in the silence surrounding it.
I was reading about unicorns this morning. Startups with a valuation of one thousand million dollars or more. Most new businesses these days try to follow that path. Start small, grow big, exit.
Reading the stories of these young entrepreneurs, I decided we are definitely different. My goal is not building something that is scalable to exit big. For starters, I have been exposed to the startup world long enough to know that this is bullshit except for very few cases. Especially if you are not American or Chinese. Edit: since then, I have discovered there’s a fancy term for startups like mine who see sustainability and responsible entrepreneurship as opposed to monopolies and huge exists, it’s called a Zebra.
But my main quarrel about this business model is that these people don’t really care about their businesses. All they care about is the exit. It is the culmination and goal of the trip. Which means money.
I may be interested in selling my company one day. Who knows. But it is not my main goal. Helping other entrepreneurs and nomads is. And I think that is what still makes me a micropreneur. Even if I now manage a team.
I love traveling. I love being a nomad. I never thought I would get hooked on it that much. Traveling makes me feel alive. It gets me out of my comfort zone, gets me exposed to new ideas, and forces me to re-evaluate my points of view on a regular basis.
However, I hate flying. I hate airports, and the plane is the perfect place to get sick. I hate the whole experience, from having to be there hours in advance to the queues, children screaming and uncomfortable seats.
Thanks to my husband, who runs an eco-friendly web design agency, I am also becoming more environmentally aware. We are more conscious now about our ecological footprint, and we want to do as much as we can to reduce it.
So apart from traveling slow, we also want to explore new ways of traveling. We are researching alternatives such as electric trains and wind-powered vessels for our trips.
Overcoming the “poor dad’s mindset”
However, my biggest challenge this year is overcoming the poor dad’s mindset. If you have read “Poor dad, rich dad“, by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter, you know what I’m talking about.
I was raised to be a loyal and resourceful employee. My whole education discouraged my entrepreneurial aspirations. This has had a toll on me, and to this date, I still struggle with it.
I need to embrace success. Heck, even writing that sentence made me stop and hesitate, as if I was writing something wrong. That is the result of my education. Risk-aversion, fear of being successful, and a constant struggle to understand that you deserve what you have earned with your effort and hard work.
That has always been the biggest obstacle between me and my business. Between me and my life. I have decided enough is enough. This year, I want to learn Russian and scale my company into a seven-figure business. But above all, I want to overcome my archnemesis: me.
Every year since I embarked on the Micropreneur Life venture, I have written a blog post on the first of January to reflect on the previous year. 2018 was the year when I embraced Minimalism.
2019 has been an intense year. My business grew to a six-figure business in a few months. I found myself switching from a solo entrepreneur to a full-fledged company CEO, managing my team and taking care of things I never thought I would be capable of. It’s been scary (still is), but rewarding at the same time. An exciting adventure.
How’s 2019 been for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!