I consider myself somewhat of an entrepreneur but one day I hope to have a booming business with employees. For now, I'm on my own and I'm watching closely as others choose the entrepreneurial path. As glamouous as it sounds, I've seen that entrepreurship comes with challenges -- particularly strking a work life balance.
Today, Michael Castilla is my guest blogger and shares his work/life experiences as startup founder, student, specialist,and ultimately as an entrepreneur born and raised in Miami, FL by a
middle-class Cuban family. Connect with him @micr0bitz.
An entrepreneur, regardless of age, has to make very important and usually risky decisions. The earlier you realize who you are and are able to establish long-term goals, the earlier you are able to establish a path for yourself. I've made many important decisions over the past few years that have influenced my path, and I've narrowed down 4 key opportunities and experiences I'd like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs.
1. Identifying myself as an entrepreneur
Identifying myself as an entrepreneur was a big deal. I've been involved with technology and business for the past five years, but only within the past two years have I been able to truly discover my inner entrepreneur. Where could he have been hiding? This wasn't my first hurdle, but it was crucial for every other step in my career to happen.
What is the definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled. -Howard Stevenson
Upon making this realization, I've been able to create more opportunities for myself. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle.
Now with this new word in my head, I've been able to search for entrepreneur-related terms, which has lead to me to explore new and exciting content I never knew existed, right at my finger tips. The Internet is a beautiful thing.
By the definition above, this pursuit of opportunity may sound risky. How can you pursue something you're not entirely sure about? You would be surprised that you can make a career out of taking risks and following your passions. The key idea to take from this definition is that entrepreneurship is an opportunity.
Lesson: Define who you are and never look back.
The path of an entrepreneur sure is bumpy, but it's most definitely satisfying. My only regret is that I didn't realize who I was at a younger age. I hope any aspiring students who read this will be motivated to identify themselves as early as possible.
When your teachers and parents tell you "be the best you can be", what they really mean is you have the opportunity to be whoever you want and to do something you really love and to not let anyone stop you, including them.
2. Pursuing a career following my passions
Next up, do you know someone unsatisfied with their job? It happens to majority of the American working population.
Upon my senior year or high school, I had collected enough resources and networking via the Internet to decide to pursue a career following my passions as, what I consider myself today, a Freelance Digital Craftsman. It's a semi-broad title, but it means I create digital stuff for different companies. I was fond of the idea of making money in your boxers from your laptop. I've recently decided to go full-time with this career, but just a year ago, I was an unmotivated college student who literally couldn't wait to graduate.
Ultimately, I've been taking my 20's seriously. I've decided to take the next 10 years (crap, that's a lot) to get good at this tech stuff. My visions for technology are great and I believe I can make a successful career from these passions.
Lesson: Believe in your passions and relevant opportunities will present themselves.
I'm fortunate to have had my sights set on technology and business since middle school and not a day goes by where I'm not involved with either. Because I'm passionate about these areas and I'm pursuing them as a career, I have the opportunity to not have to commit to a job that doesn't interest me.
3. Moving to a central location within Miami
I had the opportunity to temporarily live on South Beach this past summer and I jumped on it immediately. This opened up my eyes to local business opportunities and allowed me to realize the potential of the community I've been living in my entire life.
Since then I've moved into a house in Little Havana, where I've had much easier access to Brickell and Wynwood, two of the hottest districts in Miami right now.
I was previously living with my parents in Kendall. There were many benefits to running a home-based startup, especially since I had no commute, rent was free, high-speed Internet, and my parents were there to support me. What more could you ask for?
But asides from those great benefits, I was spending too much time at my desk behind my computer, away from all the real action. I yearned for more work experience and engagement with other like-minded people.
If you're eager for creating connections, you should interact with many people on a day to day basis both off and online.
Lesson: Conquer local, before global. Take advantage of the invaluable resources in your own city. Research products created by local startups and find out who's hiring. Not everything you can find locally can be found online.
4. Becoming a member of a co-working space
I'm proud to say that that Miami now offers a variety of co-working spaces. This leads me to the latest and most important decision I've made this year. I recently became a flex member of Pipeline Brickell, a professional co-working space on the 8th floor of South Tower. On the first day they opened, I showed up with a big smile, met the staff, and signed up! Up until my first visit, I had been following their social media presence but after a tour of the facilities, I was literally sold.
Since joining just last month, I've already become more connected within Miami than I've been my entire life living here. I attended their official launch party in early November, which was very successful and has already lead to new opportunities. Since making these moves, it's been very enjoyable to work so close to home. I can park my car in Mary Brickell Village and walk a few blocks over to Pipeline.
I'm also particularly excited about The LAB Miami's big expansion to their own warehouse. They're hosting HackDay at their new facilities in December, but they're officially opening January 2013. Once they're up and running, they will have the potential to really capture Miami's potential and put our talent to good work.
Lesson: Like-minded people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
My Current Life/Work Balance
If the concept of a 9-5 position makes you cringe, this should make you smile. The freedom of an freelance entrepreneur's work schedule is highly attractive, leaving more time for family and friends, but there are still only 24 hours in a day. As an entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to be creative with your schedule, as long as you're still putting in the hours.
Daily exercise and a smart diet have also attributed to a healthy work/life balance. As a freelancer, you come to learn staying health is very important for business. In no way have I chosen the path of least resistance. I haven't necessarily chosen to create my own path, but I have chosen a path least followed. You don't always have to re-invent the wheel, sometimes just spinning it will do the trick.
Most importantly, I've realized no one is going to make these decisions or create these opportunities for me. The younger you get involved with problem solving, whether it be parking issues in the city or complex programming design patterns, the more prepared you will be to make important decisions down any path you decide to create or follow.
As an entrepreneur, you're the key player on your team, the ball is always in your court, you're a referee, and a goalie. There are very little rules in this game and no one tells you what to do or how to do it. Create your own opportunities!
If this article sparks any interest in you, please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or comments. I would love to hear from you! michaelcastilla.com / @micr0bitz