Sitting on the floor of my modest 600 sq ft 1-bedroom apartment, surrounded by Google search results and fueled by an undeniable gut feeling, I made the audacious decision to embark on my own business journey. With just a week's notice, I bid farewell to my secure full-time job, complete with a comfortable salary, benefits, and a 401k plan, just a few weeks shy of my 27th birthday.
Some may call it bold, even reckless, and looking back, I can't deny the naivety that guided my path. Apart from my early experiences wearing many hats in my family's businesses, from receptionist to bookkeeper, hostess to dishwasher, and occasionally even a waitress, I possessed no practical experience, strategic roadmap, or foresight about the challenges awaiting me.
In retrospect, perhaps my naivety was a blessing in disguise. After all, fear can't grip you when you're blissfully unaware of what lies ahead. Nevertheless, it didn't spare me from the inevitable missteps and obstacles that come with being a small business owner with grand aspirations of hiring a team, scaling up operations, and ultimately, selling the business
Growing up, I was always a bit slower to grasp concepts compared to my peers. It seemed like everyone else effortlessly moved forward while I struggled to catch up. Being a first-generation Asian-American, the weight of parental expectations to excel academically added to the pressure. With sheer determination and relentless studying, I managed to graduate high school and college with honors, but that didn't stop the development of perfectionist tendencies and the nagging feeling of imposter syndrome that lingered within me.
Drawing from the persistence and resilience I cultivated during my formative years, I embarked on the journey of building my first business. I immersed myself in books, podcasts, and a wealth of online resources, eager to expand my knowledge and skills. Along the way, I faced countless challenges and setbacks, often feeling like I couldn't stretch my mind any further.
By the sixth year of running my business, I reached a point as CEO where I realized a major pivot was necessary. Although we were profitable, our margins weren't sustainable or appealing to potential buyers in the future. The challenge was clear: how could I increase company value, boost revenue, and simultaneously control or reduce costs in a service-based business?
The solution seemed simple in theory: I needed to transform our services into products and streamline our operations, ensuring consistent and predictable performance across all aspects of the business. However, executing this plan proved to be a formidable task. It involved creating new service packages, adjusting pricing, reimagining our hiring and training processes, rebranding, and overhauling both our sales and client onboarding procedures. Most importantly, it required meticulously documenting these processes and procedures, equipping my team with the necessary tools to effectively carry out our collective vision.
For two years, I dedicated myself to the process, immersing myself in learning how to systematize my business and align it with my desired direction. Finally, after this intense period of focus, we began moving in the right direction, and I started reaping the returns on my investments of time and money.
Then, eight years after starting the company, the culmination of my efforts arrived. I successfully closed the sale of my business to a private buyer, marking a significant milestone in my entrepreneurial journey.