Day Two of the Blogging Challenge! Woop woop!
Today’s theme is how did I become an entrepreneur!
I bet everyone dreams of being their own boss, right, I mean it is an appealing thought to be in complete control over your time, tasks and appointments. I’m sure the thought has crossed many people’s minds. And it sure did mine, over and over again, for years and years. But it always seemed nothing more than an elusive dream.
With that dreamer mindset I moved to Helsinki, the capital city of my homeland of Finland, soon after finishing high school. I had no freaking clue about what I wanted to do with my life, I mean I wanted to be a photographer but come on now, how realistic is it that I would get to do what I like?? So I postponed school and got myself a job instead. Funny thing is, I had dreamt about working for my at-the-time-favorite clothing store and ended up getting employed by them. So dreams do come true but I guess it wasn’t strong enough to make me realize that dudette-woman, I could totally be a photographer if I so wanted. Oh well, we all have our paths we need to take, right?
Well. Turns out not all dreams are dreamy in reality and it really is true when people say “be careful what you wish for”! I quit the job after two years and went on to look for something with more responsibility – I was really craving more opportunities and challenges, so I ended up in a mobile operator company. I started as a receptionist but due to the company’s rearranging and reassigning of tasks, I was being trained for more.
Whoopiedoo, I was getting more responsibility! But what the heck, I was still “just” the receptionist! I marched into my boss’ office and made a strong case as to why I should be promoted. She agreed and voilá, suddenly I had my own office and was in charge of bad debt and collection.
As I was clocking in and clocking out day after day, month after month, I began to crawl out of my skin. It was not my cup of tea, at all!
And then it happened.
The turning point.
I was studying for an entrance exam test (because I thought if I just went to study anything, I was bound to find something I liked). But as I was (trying) to read the book, I told a friend of mine how I wasn’t at all inspired and all I wanted to do was photograph, why couldn’t I just do that? He was silent for a moment and then he said to me “Erika, if that’s how you feel, why on earth are you studying for this exam? Why don’t you just apply to go study photography?”
And that was it.
I applied to a photography school in Finland and spent an amazing year studying and devouring anything and everything related to photography. But it only made me crave for more and I decided it was time to apply abroad (something that had also been a dream of mine for a long, long time!). After a chain of events, I ended up finding and applying to a school in Vancouver, Canada.
I still remember the moment I got a package in the mail from ECUAD.
It was thick.
And I thought “nooooo, could this be…? Could this really be an acceptance package??”
I opened it.
The letter read “Congratulations!..”
I WAS MOVING TO CANADA!!!
My life was about to change. Entirely. Completely.
And it did. My life got turned on its head.
The absolute best decision I ever made.
I cannot emphasize it enough!
On August 14th, 2008 I embarked on a journey from Finland and after freaking crazy 33hrs of traveling, I was in Vancouver, BC. (And FYI, it does not normally take that long to travel from Finland to Canada but I was flying through two different cities and got stuck in the last one due to some seriously delayed flights!)
But boy, oh boy, was it ever worth it.
I was in freaking VANCOUVER! I still remember waking up in my hotel in the morning, looking out at sunny Vancouver all the while the widest smile EVER was spreading across my face. There are not enough words to describe how happy I felt. I stepped outside my hotel and the hot, humid air hit me and I just stood there, on the street, (Beatty Street), and smiled. I must have looked like a complete fool, haha! The following two weeks I spent getting my shizzles organized: finding an apartment, getting a phone and a laptop, learning how to navigate the city, and I swear the entire time I had this goofy grin on my face. Come to think of it, people probably just thought I was high! Haha (For those of you that don’t know, Vancouver is also known as Vansterdam…)
It was heaven. Pure heaven.
And that’s really where it all started. From stumbling on a few different possible “career paths”, I arrived at a conclusion that I was not going to be happy unless I followed my heart. It was that simple realization and faith that got me through all the challenges and obstacles.
I dared to follow a life-long dream of living abroad and it showed me that everything is possible. When you get into that mindset that everything is possible, everything really becomes possible.
During my time in Vancouver, I met some truly amazing and inspiring people, all of whom I will forever carry in my heart. (And this makes me think of a beautiful poem by my favorite poet ee cummings called “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in“) All of these people played a part in forming and shaping my mind, attitudes and outlooks, and indirectly preparing me for entrepreneurship.
It has been a long journey of learning and unlearning and I have become eternally hungry for more. And now that I finally made the plunge to be an official, legally owned company and not a freelancer, everything seems to hold more value. Now everything I do, everything I read, everything I talk about or listen to, everything holds direct meaning for the business. When I am self-employed, it all comes down to the self (this is something that was pointed to me a while back by one of my personal heroes, someone who, in more ways than one, changed my life).
Being an entrepreneur is so much more than the work itself, marketing, branding or accounting – it is a trip into you. You are constantly at the edge of your seat, outside of your comfort zone, learning and growing, finding new ways when the old ones no longer work. It’s a constant trial-and-error, discovery and re-discovery.
It’s not just a job, it’s a way of being.
One of my professional heroes, Jim Rohn, put it so well when he said:
“If you want to have more, you have to become more.
For things to change, you have to change.
For things to get better, you have to get better.
For things to improve, you have to improve.
If you grow, everything grows for you.”
This is what I have written on the wall of my home office and this is what I keep as my mantra. Life is what you make of it and when we are lucky enough to be born under circumstances where we can have this much control over our lives, we have to make the most of it.
And that, in a nut shell, is how I arrived to where I am today.
My gratitude goes to everyone I have met along the way, in my entire life, because those are the people I have to thank for shaping me into who I am today. Thank you.