I was not born an entrepreneur.
At least I don’t think so, especially that there was no concept of entrepreneurship in the Soviet Union where I was born.
When I came to Canada, my dreams were focused exclusively on climbing a corporate ladder: the steeper the better. I dreamt of international companies, corner-offices with big windows and breathtaking views. If you would have told me that my blissful happiness would one day arrive in the form of a small basement office (with the view of people’s boots as they walked by), a narrow shared desk and an empty bank account, I would have called you delusional.
My entrepreneurial journey started when I was a couple of weeks (yup, weeks) pregnant with my first kid. My now-business-partner came to meet me for lunch, somehow guessed that I was pregnant, and excitedly informed me that maternity leave was the best time to start a business. Ironically, I have since met several women that caught the entrepreneurial bug the moment they stepped away from the corporate hustle and bustle and re-evaluated their professional paths, hopes and priorities. At the time, however, Moranne seemed delusional to me, and yet I was hooked on her dreams, vision and conviction that we would make it big.
It was not an easy decision for me to make. With no trust fund, enviable savings or a solid backup plan, quitting a cushy comfortable job to take a plunge is no easy feat. Most people called me crazy,
and moral support was scarce. Moranne and I co-founded Pronexia with three babies under the age of 2 between the two of us, unsure of how we would juggle it all and yet certain that we would figure it all out.
I had officially become the delusional one – nervous, scared, overfilled with uncertainty and yet feeling happy, grateful and…free.
The last seven years have been a quite a ride. We now have 5 kids between the two of us, have expanded, restructured, moved offices twice, hired, fired, felt ultra confident, doubted the hell out of ourselves and our decisions, and have become closer and stronger throughout all of it.
It has been fascinating to see some of our clients take the same plunge we once did and start their own businesses or solo consulting practices. I caught up with Kellie-Ann Briand, someone I had the pleasure of collaborating with over 5 years ago, and it was incredible to share experiences and see how similar some of our struggles and milestones have been. Lack of support from those around us, being called borderline insane, not knowing where to start, and yet feeling in our gut that nothing had ever felt more right.
There is an abundance of resources today and yet women just like us have a hard time figuring out where to start. How do you convince your loved ones that you haven’t lost it? Do you incorporate? Should you quit your job and go all in or hustle on the side for now? What should you name your business? How do you get a website up? What’s the best way to promote your services? Do you need a business plan? What are the best books to read? Podcasts? Blogs?
I know your questions, worries and doubts because I too have been there and had to work through all of them myself. I was lucky to have the most amazing business partner who was there to cheer me on, learn with me, teach me, and inspire me to keep moving forward. She was right – we have prevailed.
And all it took was just the right amount of delusion.
Marina Byezhanova, co-Founder of Les Labs and Pronexia Inc.