I’m Daniel, a Digital Marketer and an entrepreneur from Vietnam. I’m currently working as a Growth Marketing Consultant and Web Designer at Sisu Digital, a Helsinki-based digital agency that helps international startups and SMEs take off the ground with web & marketing solutions.
I think my entrepreneurial journey started already in my childhood. Our family was not rich, but my parents were able to provide me and my two younger siblings with everything we wanted. I didn’t know how privileged I was until my family went bankrupt when I was in high school. My mother didn’t give up. She had a whole family to carry on and three children to feed. She opened a street food stall to serve local people and tourists.
My mother is fast, resourceful and entrepreneurial-minded. She didn’t have a university degree, but she worked hard, was innovative and very customer-centric. She continuously came up with new ideas to make her food more delicious, streamline the laborious work, cut unnecessary costs and most importantly, connect with her customers at the personal level so they not only come back but also bring their friends along. Her entrepreneurial spirit had a big impact on me.
My mother’s entrepreneurial spirit had a big impact on me.
My first try with entrepreneurship was when I was 20. At that time I noticed that there was a lack of English materials for students who took international standardized tests like SAT, GMAT, so I imported books from abroad and sold them online. I learnt to build an online book store (which I named “Hieu Sach Tuong Lai”, or the Future Bookstore), did marketing on Facebook and multiple forums for students, handled everything, from pricing to order confirmation to ship and customer support. Now when I think back about that time, I was running a small but profitable business. It was a one-man online business, but it went really well actually, and I earned quite good money from it.
My entrepreneurial journey in Finland came to me naturally. I had to thank my first job in Finland. I was working as a marketing specialist at a tech startup. My boss was a Finnish lady. She was very nice and kind to me. My first freelance project came from her referral – it was a small website project for the real estate agency that her son-in-law was starting with his founding team. I was doing a good job, so I got a few more referrals, which ended up in more projects. All of these projects served as a stepping stone for me to think more seriously about walking down the path of becoming an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur means a lot of work and a lot of stress. If you don’t get any work, you get stressed. If you get too much work, you get stressed too. On the other hand, as an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to choose when to work, where to work, who to work with. You have full control and full responsibility for how you do things. Freedom requires you to be disciplined and self-motivated. Being an entrepreneur can be a way to “force” yourself to build up good habits and remove bad habits.
One of my biggest tips for others is that not everyone is your customer. Choose people with whom you want to work.
One of my biggest tips for others is that not everyone is your customer. Choose people with whom you want to work. Sometimes it’s hard to say no to a customer, especially when you are a small business. However, I learnt that if you work with a client who doesn’t really know what they want, or doesn’t share the same value with you, or doesn’t think to reach a win-win situation but rather take advantage of you, the project will turn out bad really soon. The cost you have to pay to serve that customer can outweigh the profit you can earn them, financially and mentally.
I think it all comes down to understanding what you want to achieve in life. Is it success, financial freedom, fame or happiness? To me becoming an entrepreneur is not a goal, but one exciting way among many to help you achieve your goal.
We are indeed living in such an exciting time. Never in history can we easily access all the knowledge and tools to help us become successful in work and happy in life. There will be more and more entrepreneurs, either full time or part-time. In my imagination for the future of work, people will embrace the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, like me.
This article is first published on istartedthis.org