My Story: The Journey Of Never Giving Up!
In 2016, I joined engineering school to become a Mechanical Engineer, and there was nothing more exciting than that. Unfortunately, after two years, I decided to quit. I decided to quit because;
- I didn't see value in what we were learning. So I didn't want to waste my life and my parents' money.
- I thought we were there to do cool stuff. However, it was only theory to pass exams.
- Even if I graduated, I knew I would take that paper, put it under my bed, and do something else I was passionate about.
I had asked myself, "What is the point of staying here doing something I was not passionate about just to get a piece of paper that I was not sure I would ever need?"
I had a chance to do soul-searching and decide what I wanted. This happened after lecturers had gone on a 6-month civil strike to demand better wages. In the process, I joined an organization called IEEE.
IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.
The opportunities and events that IEEE offered made me fall in love with technology. Right away, I knew I wanted to do something in tech. Exciting things were happening in the tech scene, and I could watch them happen or be part of it.
I decided to become part of it by learning how to code.
I didn't know how to convince my parents to let me become a programmer and abandon my engineering degree. I knew that there was no way they would let me do that. So I decided to lie because it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
I told them I wanted to defer school for one year and acquire more skills to boost my engineering degree in the job market. They were convinced, and they accepted.
However, I just quit, and I didn’t defer.
In Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, there is a story about a great warrior who had gone to war against a mighty army that outnumbered his men. He loaded his soldiers into ships and sailed to the enemy's country. Once there, he unloaded his men and equipment and ordered them to burn the ships.
Then he said, "You see the ships going up in smoke; that means we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win. We now have no choice, and it is either we win or perish."
That is what motivated me to drop out. I learned that every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat.
Acquiring New Skills
After I decided to quit engineering school, I started researching the best institutions that offered programming courses. I knew what I wanted. I wanted skills that would enable me to solve real world problems.
I decided to choose a coding institution that would offer me a better learning environment and the support I needed. The institution I chose offered a 4-month course where you would learn the basics of web development.
You were supposed to develop an idea for an app, build it and present it in front of a panel. It was a way to showcase what you had learned in those four months.
Starting to learn how to code was not a walk in the park. At the start, it was pretty overwhelming and intimidating. Sometimes I felt like it was not my thing, which scared me. I was scared because I didn’t have a plan B since I had burned my ships.
That is when I decided to do a google search to find out if others out there feel intimidated, the same as when starting to learn how to code. I discovered that it was a common thing, and the best thing to do was to:
- Keep doing the right thing.
- Be patient.
- Keep learning.
That is why it is crucial to ensure that whatever area you get into is something you are passionate about. If you are not passionate about it, giving up becomes easy!
Everything Going Down The Drain
I had acquired the skills that I needed. What next? I decided to convert the idea that I had presented as an app into a product that people in the real world could use.
The idea was simple. It was about displaying apartments for rent on an app or a website, and then people would be able to book them online. I needed to develop an MVP (minimum viable product) to test the market. In that case, an MVP would be a website.
At the coding institution, we had only been taught the basics of coding. To build a website that people would use, I needed to improve my skills. I took Udemy courses and watched YouTube videos while coding along with the instructors.
Finally, I was done in two months, and it was time to build.
In two and half months, I built the front-end part of the website, making it responsive on all devices before taking a break.
A high school friend called me. He asked me to help him with my laptop for two days. I AGREED since I was on a break.
After two days, I called the guy to ask for the laptop, and he said he wasn't around. Days went by, and he continued to give excuses. That is when I realized I wasn’t getting my laptop back.
I didn't know where the guy lived, and even after reporting to the police, I didn't get much help. The most painful thing was that I had not backed up my project. So, unfortunately, everything I had been working on had gone down the drain.
Do people think about how their actions might affect others before doing something stupid to them?
I did not entertain the thought of starting over again, and I didn't know what to do next.
One morning, a friend called and told me about an opportunity. It was a competition by the National Parliament. They were asking for the submission of ideas for an app that would improve public participation in law-making. We applied and waited for a month to get results. Then, finally, it gave me a chance to concentrate on something else and forget about the heartbreak of losing my laptop.
A month passed by, but we didn’t get a word. Since that was my only option, I decided to quit and go back home and tell my parents the truth.
One evening after deciding to quit, I came across one of the videos about Elon Musk while going through some YouTube videos. It was about Elon Musk's journey and the failures he encountered while building his companies. When the interviewer asked what Elon thinks about quitting, he said, "I never give up. I can only give up if I am dead or incapacitated.”
That statement sparked a fire in my heart, and I have never felt more inspired or motivated than that before. I knew it was time to start over again!
Starting Over From Scratch
I started working on the website from scratch. I used a borrowed laptop, and sometimes I used computers at the coding institution I attended to learn how to code.
It took me two and half months to build the front-end part of the website before losing the laptop, but this time, it took me only three weeks to complete the entire website. I was in beast mode.
It had been one year since I quit the school of engineering. Since I had told my parents that I had deferred for one year, they wanted me to return to school. However, I didn't have plans to go back to school. So I went home and told them the truth.
I told them my decisions and showed them what I had been working on. They were impressed. Then I said to them that I wanted their support. They were reluctant, but they had no options. It was my life, and I was the captain of my ship.
I was given everything I needed, including money for registering a company. After that, I returned to the city to prepare for the launch. But unfortunately, I didn't have any business experience, let alone running a company. So the only option I had was to self-educate myself.
I searched on the internet for the best business books. Finally, I found "Lean Startup" by Eric Ries and "Blue Ocean" by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. I read them cover to cover so I could use their knowledge to run my company.
The website was live but didn't have actual apartments that people would book. So I needed to talk to property managers to allow me to display their apartments on my site.
I needed capital for the company to take off, but I was not getting much support. My parents were already providing everything I needed for my upkeep. However, they were not ready to invest money in something they weren't sure would work.
That meant without money, I couldn't make much progress. So I had to figure out ways to raise capital.
Hitting Rock Bottom
After the company failed to take off, I felt disappointed and tired of everything.
Since I could not get any funding, I had no option but to go home. But unfortunately, I didn't know what to do, and I couldn't figure out how to raise capital.
There was a lot of pressure from relatives on me to go back to school, but I vowed that there was no way I was going back to school. I was utterly done with schooling. I was determined to make my dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true. I saw going back to school as a form of giving up.
I was offered an internship opportunity in March 2020 and was to report for work on April 1. The internship was an excellent opportunity because I could get time to work on my projects and still support myself. But unfortunately, two weeks before April, the country went on total lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That meant I could not report for the internship.
I didn't have a computer where I could sharpen my coding skills or even freelance. Moreover, I could not ask my parents for another laptop because I had already lost the one they bought. All I had was my phone, and I couldn't figure out what to do with myself. The only thing I could do was read books. So then I decided to do something I had wanted to do for a long time.
Grow my Twitter account.
I became active on Twitter in May 2020, and within five months, I had grown my account to almost 10K followers. The account was suspended indefinitely in November, and I didn't know when I would get it back. So I decided to start a new one from scratch.
Now I was trying to figure out ways how I could get a laptop. Afterward, I needed to get back to coding to work on my ideas and projects.
One morning, I talked with my father, and he asked me what my plans for my life were. I showed him some emails I was receiving from a freelancing website. They used to send me emails of people who needed programmers to work on their projects. I told him that if I had a laptop, I could be working on these projects and get paid. Within two days, he surprised me with a new laptop.
Trying Something New
I started reminding myself of the basics of coding because it had been almost a year since I had written any code. It took me a month to catch up.
I started to think about my next move. I didn't know which was the best course of action to take. I couldn't decide whether to apply for a job or freelance. One day, as I was hanging out with some friends, one suggested I could try freelancing.
I researched what someone needed to be a good freelancer and discovered that you need a portfolio website where you could talk about who you are, what you can do, and show your work.
I worked on a simple portfolio website, hosted it, and it was running. The next thing was to get a client.
I decided to look for people with crappy websites, redesign them, present the redesigns, and ask if they were willing to hire me. I started by looking for website links on peoples' bios on Twitter. Finally, I found a website I felt I could redesign and do a better job.
I redesigned the website and took a screenshot of my redesign and the screenshot of the original website. Then, I posted the screenshots comparing them on Twitter, and the post blew up.
I got a lot of feedback, but it didn't materialize into a deal.
I wasn't disappointed about not getting a deal because my main aim was to show the world what I could do. My plan worked, and I got many direct messages(DMs) on Twitter from people asking how much I charged for a website and whether I could build one for them. I talked with many potential clients but couldn't convert any to paying clients.
I felt so disappointed and tired. I thought it was my time to win, but it was just failure after failure.
It was in December 2020, and the situation ruined my Christmas mood.
In January 2021, I wanted to leave home so badly, but I still couldn't decide whether to get a job or continue to freelance. I started messaging some developers on Twitter for advice and decided to settle on freelancing completely.
I needed money to support myself as I sharpened my coding skills. I got a small job on a contract which was like 6 dollars per day. It was so little, but at least I could afford data bundles to facilitate my learning. I made some savings and bought a domain name for my portfolio website.
The small job I got was paintwork for a local bank. I checked their website, and it looked old and crappy. So I decided to redesign it, present it to them and see if I could make a deal. I wrote a proposal and sent it to the bank management, but the deal failed to materialize.
I was now used to failures and rejections, which no longer hurt. You can say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
In the process, that's when I realized I was doing everything wrong. I discovered that I only knew how to build good websites, not websites that solved the customer's problem or helped businesses convert potential customers to buying customers. That needed to change. I needed to be a marketer. Becoming a marketer would help me grow;
- My brand.
- An audience on social media in my niche.
- My freelance business.
I started self-educating myself by reading books, watching YouTube videos, and reading online articles.
I discovered that you need to create valuable content that helps people solve their problems to be a good marketer.
The books that helped me were:
- "This is Marketing" by Seth Godin,
- “Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley,
- "Content Rules" by Ann Handley.
- “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk.
I read them cover to cover, and they were ultimately a game-changer for me.
I also needed to significantly upgrade my life, and "5 AM Club" by Robin Sharma came to my rescue.
It was now time to have a fresh start!
On May 28, 2021, I left home and moved to a new place.
A relative had called and told me that he was starting a business. So he asked me whether I was willing to be his partner in the business and I would be tasked with running the business. I didn't think twice about such an opportunity, and I agreed.
I count the day I left home as my second birthday. It gave me a chance to move to a new environment where I could have a fresh start and grow as a person, something I had wanted for a long time.
After getting to the new place, I devised a plan to give myself six months to reinvent myself completely. I started to learn how to:
- Build converting websites.
- Sell my services.
- Build an audience.
- Build a personal brand.
In June 2021, I joined Tech Twitter Community, and it was the best decision I have ever made on Twitter. It helped me to make international friends and meaningful connections.
After three months, the business I was running failed so terribly. I had no option but to get a 9 to 5 job to help me pay the bills.
Gaining Time, Location, and Financial Freedom
One and a half months into my 9 to 5 job, I received a Twitter DM.
It was October 2021, and someone asked me if I could be interested in writing Technical Articles for their tech startup blog. They told me they paid between $200 to $300 per article.
I did not think twice and said yes since I knew how to write and had good writing skills.
The funny thing is that I was supposed to be paid $200 for the article, but I was paid $300 because the article required a lot of work to be completed.
The article was about getting Stripe payment data from Stripe, loading the data into a Postgres database, and creating graphs and charts.
It was the first money I made online. So I quit my 9 to 5 job and relocated to the city.
After moving to the city, I gained something I had always wanted... FREEDOM!!!
- Time Freedom: Choosing what I want to do with my time without taking orders from anyone
- Location Freedom: Living and working from anywhere I want.
- Financial Freedom: Living without worrying about money or bills.