I’ve been reminded almost daily lately of the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people.
Not just in business, but also in our personal lives.
So often we feel that time is an indication of someone’s benefit to our lives. It causes us to hold on to people and situations that no longer serve us. And yet sometimes the people who have been in our lives the longest can be the ones who understand us the least.
This is particularly difficult when it comes to leading an unconventional career path and running your own business. Following your passion, even if others around you can’t quite see your vision. When those people who are meant to be the closest to us doubt us the most…
it can become easy to doubt yourself too.
I understand the pain that you feel when people tell you your idea isn’t going to work. Because I hear it, too.
You see, I once had a highly lucrative career doing product and business development for investment banks. In 2012, I walked away. Because after nearly 10 years in the industry, I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Money couldn’t buy happiness.
A year later, I started this business and I experienced the highs and lows of startup life. I even documented some in my startup confessions series.
No one in my old circle understood what I was doing. Why would I walk away from an incredible salary to go through all this uncertainty??
It was then that I first realised the incredible importance of surrounding ourselves with the right people who understand what it’s like to start and run a business. People who won’t judge our vision through the filter of who we used to be but instead look at us from where we are now.
create a network of the right people
For that reason, I created a new network.
I attended tons of events – both for business reasons and for my own personal development.
I made new business contacts.
I made new friends.
I hosted entrepreneur meetups. I joined a co-working space. I made myself visible, relevant, persistent and consistent.
And eventually it worked.
The naysayers went quiet. I had tons of people around me to support my vision. Business was solid. And it continued to grow year after year for the 3 years that followed.
then life changed
In 2016, life started to get in the way of business. My husband and I separated and I decided that I needed to leave London, which had been my home for 11 years. Over the 6 weeks that followed, I packed up, put my limited things into storage and I left.
I had no idea where I wanted to next call home. And I had nothing lined up. But I had a bit of time to figure that out and believed that I could run my business from anywhere.
So I embarked on the journey of a being a ‘digital nomad’ and envisioned myself spending 6-8 weeks in a variety of different places for a year or so. I would work remotely with my clients over Skype and travel as necessary to deliver in-person programs to accelerator programs and corporates.
That’s kind of how it worked out but I learned that being 100% remote in my business just would not work. My business is so much about the relationships that I build and maintain, which is just difficult to do entirely from afar.
Revenue started to dry up and I knew it was time to make a decision.
a year ago, I chose Nairobi.
I knew that I was ready for a living experience that would be very different from the cities I’d lived in before. I had a strong desire to live on the African continent. And since the first time I visited in May 2016, I’d been drawn in by the energy and opportunities of this city, both personally and professionally.
It was time to reignite my business. And the way I knew best to do that was by again creating a new network in a new city and surrounding myself with the right people.
Because, again, my old network didn’t really understand. Why would I walk away from a lucrative business in Europe to start all over again in Africa??
Well, because that’s what I’ve chosen to do with my life.
And I believe that it will all work out.
over to you
Since you’ve been in business, have you need to find a new squad who understand the highs and lows of your journey? Let us know in the comments below.