“As a Finhtern and Student, my teacher Samuel aka Reed interviewed me about my business. But this time I turned the tables and interviewed him about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. During the interview, I got to ask him various questions about his experience of starting his business and advice on how to start up a business. Here are my FAQs with Samuel aka Reed …” –Raniyah Lawrence-Ashford

How would you describe what it means to be an entrepreneur in your own words?

It’s exciting, it’s risk-taking, and it’s betting on yourself. The businesses I run are a Training and Coaching business, Airbnb and rental business, and a Business accelerator. The ultimate goal of my side hustle is to help other folks with their side hustle — I hustle for social good.

What was the most difficult part about starting up your own business?

The most difficult thing about starting up my business was raising money and having enough capital to pay my workers, take care of my family obligations, and scale my business.

What do you love most about your business?

My business connects my passions while still being able to maintain a suitable lifestyle. I also love being able to have an impact on the community. Because my side hustle is a hustle for social good, I get to do work that’s meaningful to me. Having a business that’s meaningful is having a business that’s sustainable.

What were the first steps you had to think about when starting up your business?

The first step was being clear about my market research and who my customers were. There was a lot of planning to understand who the customers were. I looked at the market niche and area. The first business I ever started was in Botswana; computers were new in Botswana, and the niche for IT services was wide open while the cost of doing business was lower there. These are some factors that have to be considered when starting a business.

What sacrifices did you have to make in order for your business to become successful?

I am blessed that I had a supportive family. But a big sacrifice when you start up a business is you might not be able to get the regular paycheck you get from a 9 to 5 job because you have to pay your employees and vendors. Money and time were two big sacrifices for me.

If your business becomes so successful would you ever quit your job?

I would only consider quitting my job if my current side hustle exceeded my 9 to 5 salary by 3x.

How have you balanced your life with being your own boss? In other words, how do you make time for everything else in your life while having your business?

Work-life balance is extremely important to me. To achieve this, I plan my time and have set routines. Every week I do a weekly preview. To do this I use a planner. This planner helps me focus on 3 big goals, not just in business, but in life. This helps me achieve a sustainable work-life balance.

How do you keep your business steady so that you always have money coming in from your business?

Hiring an accountant has given me a leg-up in tracking my income and expenses. I track my sales and expenses so that I know how much money is going in and out, which makes it easier to balance everything.

What was the most important step you had to achieve in order for your business to be successful?

The biggest step I had to do was to focus and not take on too much at once. Instead of going big, I go focus. Instead of trying to grow a business too fast, it’s important to grow your business to be sustainable.

What does a successful business look like? And how would you describe it?

Success is carrying out your business’ missions and doing it in a sustainable and balanced way. Building my network and helping people help themselves!

When things weren’t going too well in your business, what changes did you have to make so that it could be successful again?

The changes were to stay focused and ensure that I had the capital to sustain my business. After my original business failed, I had to keep believing in myself and remind myself that my identity is more than a business failure. Believing in myself despite any failure, along with staying focused, has allowed me to reach the success that I have today.

Do you think having multiple streams of income is important?

When you have multiple streams of income you are in a better position to realize “The American Dream”. But more than the “American Dream” I have sought to have a life where my needs are met without a struggle. Working a 9 to 5 may not be the solution to the American Dream, but side hustles can help. Personally, it’s not about the material things that multiple streams of income provide me, but the power to choose what I do with my time.

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