My Journey from Engineering to Entrepreneurship

in #entrepreneur6 years ago (edited)

Over the last 6 years (to the day) I've been on a journey. A journey from Engineering to Entrepreneurship. I've constantly followed my passions and it's been the most rewarding experience of my life. I wanted to share some of this journey with you.

It's a long one today, ~12min read, but there's gems hidden inside. Let's see if you make it to the bottom. Find the secret word to get a 5% upvote.

Here's how I did it. Let me take you back in time.

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2000: I graduated from High School and was accepted to University for Computer Engineering. I was going to be an engineer! This was one of the highest paying and most respect professions that I knew of. My friends whose parents were Engineers had the biggest houses and drove BMW's (my favorite car).

2000-2004: So I'm in University and working my ass off to get 2 BS Engineering degrees (Computer and Electrical). I was determined to graduate because it was my way out of the poor Southern United States. If only I had these degrees, I would be so employable and would never have to worry about money.

I've never wasted so much time in my life. The Internet was blossoming and I was stuck in dumb classes, study halls and labs. My professors never mentioned the Internet or what marvels were possible because of it. Losers.

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2004 - 2012: Working as an Engineer and making enough money that I could go out to eat whenever I wanted. I thought, for a while, that this was the good life. Wake up at 7:30am, drive 30min in to work by 9am and leave around 6pm each day to drive another 30min and make it home a bit before 7pm. Head to bed by midnight and do it all over again. I was 100% a "weekend warrior" and lived for Friday night. After 8 years working as an Engineer, I had saved about $30k USD (but still had $10k in student loans).

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During this time I had started to listen to Ron Paul and began to understand personal freedom. My hobbies turned from going out to staying in and listening to podcasts on liberty and eventually learning Austrian Economics. It became my passion. I listened to Peter Schiff, Lew Rockwell, Bob Murphy, Tom Woods, Jeffery Tucker and so many more from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. I subscribed to the Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/misesmedia) and read books from FA Hayek, Murray Rothbard and Mises himself.

Economics became my passion. I was following the stock market every day and started noticing trends in the flow of capital into and out of equities, bonds, currencies and commodities (this was before crypto existed). I understood "free market money" or "hard money" of Gold and Silver and started preserving my wealth in each. I listened to Peter Schiff's radio show every single day for 2 hours/day for 4+ years which was essential for my economics understanding of Austrian Econ. I was a bit obsessed, but was so excited to wake up each day...knowing that I was going to learn something new.

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2011: One day on the Peter Schiff Show (https://www.schiffradio.com/), he said that since the US government was making it so compliance heavy to do business, he was building an offshore bank and brokerage company (Euro Pacific Bank - https://europacbank.com/) and was looking for ppl to be commission-only brokers (sales ppl). I thought...what the heck, I'm not getting rich working as an Engineer.....so I took a chance on myself. I sold all my stuff, quit my Engineering job, said goodbye to everyone and moved to the Caribbean to work at Euro Pacific Bank.

(If you wanna learn more about this journey, listen to this presentation

).

Long story short (and maybe i'll get in to more detail in a future post) but I worked my ass off! For most of my time at Euro Pacific Bank, I remained commission-only and built waaaaay more than such a position should. While I wasn't making much money, I saw value from other places. THE EXPERIENCE THAT I WAS RECEIVING FROM HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD A BUSINESS FROM THE GROUND UP HELPED ME UNDERSTAND HOW TO BUILD BUSINESS IN GENERAL. (Sorry for the all caps, but it's so important ).

I knew that I was building the skills that would transfer to other businesses that I'd build in the future.

I knew that learning how to become a salesman, building a Customer Support department, helping define and build out the Compliance department, learning how to offer a brokerage platform, learning what it takes to open and run an offshore bank account and networking with strategic financial partners and incorporaters around the world would not only build my skills and experience but also expand my network globally.

I knew that I'd leave the bank for several years before I actually did, but I'd stay for as long as I felt like the value I got out was more than the time and energy that I put in.

2015: Seeing that my time at the bank was drawing to a close, I created the Liberty Entrepreneurs Podcast. I never had plans to "cash flow" it, but again knew that building a platform would help grow my network, expand my reach, offer new experiences and give myself a sense of authority in the libertarian, entrepreneurial and digital nomad scene. I would leverage this podcast platform and the connections I made because of it for so many encounters and businesses in the future. Again, I never worried about making money from the podcast, the value I received from it was in other forms. It was my platform, my way to communicate to you, dear listener/reader, and offer a channel for MY MESSAGE to get out where I didn't need someone else's approval.

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Dec 2016: After mentioning on Liberty Entrepreneurs Podcast a few times that I had recently hired a Virtual Assistant to help with my podcast editing, graphics, website and social media...I started receiving emails and phone calls from people who were interested in hiring their first Virtual Assistant. This got me thinking...is there a market opportunity here? Could I actually help people hire Virtual Assistants?

So I spoke w/ my VA, Dexter, about the idea of starting a VA business and he thought it was a good idea. I hired his cousin who was also a VA, Cherry Lou, to help me build the business model and we instantly had several clients lined up to serve.

March 2017: I saw the potential for LVAs and decided to resign from Euro Pacific Bank as their Head of Business Development to pursue my Virtual Assistant business full time. Huge risk and I was giving up a prestigious position in the Offshore Financial world, but I knew it was time. My passion had now turned towards building my own company and thus my own financial freedom. Remember, you aren't going to become financially independent when building someone else's company. There's no incentive because they don't want you to leave their team! If you become wealthy, and venture out on your own, then they lose a great employee in you!

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Back to LVAs, it seemed that we always had new clients to help. Word-of-mouth referrals were constant and our staff grew to help accommodate. I hired another VA to help with the interviews and another to help run our back-end systems (CRM, email, website, etc). We named ourselves Liberty Virtual Assistants! Seemed like I was now building a brand...the Liberty brand (remember my podcast Liberty Entrepreneurs?). We quickly found success.

Without the experience, skills and network that I had built over the previous 5 years I would not have been able to so quickly build Liberty Virtual Assistants (LVAs). I called upon previous experiences to guide me through difficult scenarios in my new business, but had built the basic fundamental building blocks to put all the pieces together. I made slow and steady progress, over-coming plenty of setbacks and speed bumps along the way, but now there was one big difference. I was building for ME!

It's now March 2018 and LVAs has been in business for over 14 months. We're squarely profitable and currently have ~40 active Virtual Assistants hired. We offer better jobs with better pay than our VAs can find nearly anywhere in the Philippines. Also, all of our jobs are work from home! This means that people can feel comfortable in their own homes and spend time with their children. Who doesn't like the freedom of a remote job?!?

Here's a few of the LVAs!

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On our weekly call!

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Engineer vs Entrepreneur

Coming from an Engineering background, I had problem solving skills which became both a benefit and a hurdle. Here's why...

  • Entrepreneurs solve problems. Engineers solve problems. There's one huge difference.

  • As an Engineer, I would solve problems because I thought that I could solve them. I would build things to see if they could be built.

  • As an Entrepreneur, I solve problems because there's a market need. I build because I've identified a pain or problem in society that I believe I can solve and that people will pay me for.

Side note: A good example of building as an Engineer is my site CryptoGear.io (https://cryptogear.io/). Don't buy anything from there. The shipping is all screwed up and you'll find much better deals at our own @slickwilly 's site BitcoinShirtz (https://teespring.com/stores/bitcoinshirtz). I wanted to build a drop-shipping website, but didn't look at how much demand there was for it. We do approx 0 sales/month lol. The reason is because I didn't understand the market demand for crypto-related apparel and it was much less than I had hoped. Lesson learned, do your market research before you biuld. Oh yeah, the s e c r e t p h r a s e is "buildfreedom". Leave it in the comments :)

So now it's March 2018 and the VA business is humming along nicely and we've niched down to only helping crypto/blockchain companies build out their customer service teams. Remember, the riches are in the niches. Don't try to please or serve everyone. When you do, you constantly get headaches and can't keep your quality high. Under-estimating customer service issues is one of the major pitfalls of small businesses.

As many of you know, I've now started @SteemSmarter, a Steem blockchain analytics reporting business. We've very young as a company and still figuring out exactly what we can offer you. We know that we want to help you more quickly find your tribe, gain followers and make money for the content you create and post on Steem!

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One of the best things I've learned as an Entrepreneur is to constantly ask for feedback on your projects. Remember, Entrepreneurs build for YOU the clients.

That said, what questions do you constantly find that you ask yourself before, during or after posting on Steem? Maybe things like...

  1. What should I post about?
  2. What time should I post?
  3. How do I get more followers?
  4. How do I get more up-votes?
  5. What tags should I use?
  6. How can I get a whale up-vote?
  7. ...maybe something else?

What would help you make more sense of Steem? I'm here for you and so is the rest of the @SteemSmarter team of @crypthoe and @thescubageek (follow all of us)!

This is my current project and it definitely won't be my last. Once you know how to build, you catch the "build bug". You start to see opportunities in the marketplace everywhere. Maybe that carwash down the street is screwing up because they don't accept cryptocurrencies and you could build a new car wash that does. Or maybe the bar next door doesn't serve Don Julio tequila and you know that people are craving it. What about crypto t-shirt designs that suck and you just know that you can do a better job?

Another piece of advice I have is this. Build a business where you are one of the first customers. Sure, make sure other people also find value and a need for your product/service, but when you are your own client, it gives you first hand experience of how useful and easy-to-use the thing that you are building actually is.

Ok, long one today and if you made it this far, thank you. I know it was a bit rambly and thanks for tuning in <3

Til next time....KEEP BUILDING FREEDOM!

In Liberty,
Ashe

https://steemit.com/@ashe-oro/?utm_source=steemit&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=follow-me-ashe-oro-steemit

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Great post. It resonated with me very much as a software developer. I get what you mean when you say solving problems just for the sake of it vs there’s a market for it.

You’re approaching the steemit problem from the side of content creators. There are two more stakeholders in this platform, investors and content consumers.

Investors need to discover great posts like this one and great content providers that contribute to the platform. It’s in their interest to find those accounts and posts and to upvote them. That’s how the value of this platform and therefore their investment increases.

Content consumers also need to discover great posts and accounts just to consume them.

So, both parties need a tool to discover great content relevant to their tastes.

Developing a tool for content creators might not be profitable, because most of them are in need of money and might not have the cash to invest in an extra tool.

very interesting. Approach it from both angles, the content creator and the content consumer (reader). These are both valid and very different problems to solve. You've got my wheels turning, thank you.

btw, what type of software dev are you? What lang's and experience?

I’m a C# windows software developer. My specialization is in personnel planning software, automated and manual, from algorithms to the UI. I have more than ten years experience on that.

Back in the day, I worked on different platforms and languages as well C, C++, Java, PHP, but in the last ten years my focus was on the personnel planning problem.

If you’re interested, I can send you my LinkedIn profile.

yes, please do.

Build Freedom :)

well done ;)

I love that you've been on the journey for 6 years... it inspires me and reminds me that it's never too late to start an unconventional path. I started my journey 3 years ago, and also think that my professors are losers, lol.

Thanks for being honest in this post and just telling it like it is, including the ups and downs of your journey to buildfreedom. It's so relatable to people who have tried several things and failed at several things (like me) before finding the right path and niching down on what it is they really want to do. I also tried drop shipping...I didn't do much better than you, only a whopping $300 in sales haha.

You definitely have great advice sprinkled throughout this lil' rambly post.

I'll add to it with something very important that I've learned: When you start to see opportunities pop up everywhere, focus on one project to completion, before starting on the next thing you want to build!

If you try to start way too many projects at once (unless you have a huge team to outsource tasks to) then you'll spread yourself too thin and never accomplish what you set out to do.

Great post!

"focus on one project to completion, before starting on the next thing you want to build!"

Agreed. Either make it profitable, or give up on it and open your time, focus and energy on to a new project. Don't try to build too much at the same time. Ur brain will fry. Thanks for commenting and engaging!

BUILD FREEDOM! No one's gonna do it for you.

I got my degree in Plastics/Polymer Engineering because I saw there was heavy recruitment on campus and they made the most money- the other reason is that I did it to connect to my EE dad, thinking that I could build some kind of emotional bridge-nope. The other secret lure was that I liked the way the plastics smelled during processing. 20 yrs later I learned that I always did what others wanted of me and looked for validation outside of myself. This realization has completely changed my life and has allowed me to pursue my other passion- trading and create my own business where I educate people how to use digital assets in a conscious way to grow wealth.

Keep up the great work!

thank you so much :) Understanding that "selfishness is a virtue" was key to my own personal freedom. Btw, Ayn Rand wrote a book entitled the same.

This is really nice, graduated recently with Bachelors in Electrical and Computer Engineering too and looking forward to what to do with my life. I think the key is having financial freedom by "building my own company and thus my own financial freedom". Thanks for sharing

a background in Engineering is a strong foundation...just make sure and learn about Economics and Entrepreneurship too :) Good luck out there @giantshoulder!

Thanks alo buddy, would follow your advice. Would love to see more of this kinda post in the coming future

Your journey from engineer to entrepreneur is inspirational. I do Wonder what exactly went wrong with cryptogear ? And why create another site ? Since when you knew what was wrong with the first one you could have made changes to the same.

I would really like to know your thoughts on this.

Thank you for the info and yaa the the s e c r e t p h r a s e is "buildfreedom".

Fyi , i really thought i am going to find puzzle here. Still fun 😄😄😃🤣

there wasn't enough demand for cryptocurrency apparel and I would have had to run a lot of ads, build an email marketing list and it would have been a LOT of work for not a lot of profit. Thx for reading :)

Thank you for this post! I wonder about the "build bug." I sometimes don't know where to put my time into. I have a bunch of ideas yet I struggle on execution.

Please continue to "buildfreedom" :D

We all have moments of feeling like "burning suns", with our energy going out in all directions. Give yourself a challenge... track your time for a week – find out exactly where it goes!

In terms of execution, look at ideas like "Experiments". Commit to a small timeframe, map out what's realistic and go at it full steem ;) without questioning your commitment for that period of time. At the end of the experiment, evaluate how it went and decide what's next. You don't need to compromise on your many different ideas (as I polymath, I totally relate)... it's about becoming a laser beam and focusing your energy on one at a time in concentrated bursts and managing your "time" capacity :)

I like perspective! Experimenting with one thing at a time and... I can do that. Thank you!

the "shinny object syndrome" is serious. Making friends with it was a key turning point to my entrepreneurial success and mental freedom.

How where you able to do that without spreading yourself too thin? If you have any blogs / podcasts on that I would love to listen in.

inspiring story Ashe! you are great enterprenuar and same as me who leaving medical for sake of computer science and blogging and enter to online field!best of luck for future!

I also took a similar step last year, I left my job as a casual labourer in a construction company, I left the job to get a bsc degree, I was was never satisfied with being ordered around and earn meagre at the end of the month, I have plans to be a big business owner, but it seems am not getting it right now. I also want you to explain this phrase in your write up, the riches is in the niches, thanks for sharing your experience with us.

great feedback :) You've gotta niche down and offer something that you can be the authority in and keep the quality high. Don't try to offer too much to too many people. Know who your ideal client is and what they are specifically looking for. Hope this helps!

Thanks, hope to see you exploring the African maket.

Really Inspiring Story @ashe-ore I am also studying pre-engineering now thinking about Software engineering but i like software engineering also like online working now i am confuse what would be best in future for online working would u give me some suggestions about online field.

thx @hidayat4u. Glad you liked the story :)

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