Have you just started your own business? Are you considering taking the leap? Then next week’s event could be a ‘must attend’ for you. We are hosting the book launch of ‘Spring Verder’, a survival guide for your first year as an entrepreneur.

A very ‘thrilling’ time that many of our members have their own experience with. We had a chat with 3 of them who left their jobs as employees to become their own bosses. Don’t expect a golden formula, starting your own business is trial and error. “You can never be fully prepared, so stop overthinking it and just do it.”

102,179 people started their own business in Belgium in 2022. For the first time in years, there was a drop in the number of starters. According to UNIZO, the organization that represents the self-employed and the SME’s, the economic crisis makes people insecure. They see which way the wind blows and postpone their plans.

But, hey, fortune favors the daring. Sarah Gomez Orueta started Ceres Weddings, her own business as a wedding designer. Jill De Ranter launched her marketing agency Marco in 2021, while the pandemic was still raging. Jeroen Verelst has been running his copywriting business Woordpool for 5 years now. They talk about their first steps in starting their business.

Saying ‘no’ is overrated

Jill: “I’ve got entrepreneurial blood running through my veins. I’ve always dreamt of starting my own business. When my mom passed away in 2021, I decided to go for it. It’s one of those moments that make you realize life is too short to not chase your dreams and do what you love.”

“The negative reactions on my move surprised me. People couldn’t understand why I left a steady job at the internal communications department of a big multinational to start my own business. Sure, stability and security can be tempting, but I didn’t want to get stuck in a golden cage. At a certain point you just need to stop overthinking things and you just need to jump.”

Jeroen: “It’s like Yoda says: ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ Either you jump or you don’t, there is no middle ground. A lot of people told me that, as an entrepreneur, you should learn how to say ‘no’. You read it all the time. But saying ‘no’ is overrated. The best things come from saying ‘yes’. I’ve often cursed myself for saying yes to things I didn’t actually had time for or that were way outside of my comfort zone. But I’ve met some amazing people and scored some amazing writing assignments that way.”

‘There is no perfect moment or golden formula. Just jump and learn by doing.’

Trial and error

Starters are buried under advice. There are a zillion of inspirational books, podcasts or YouTube channels around where entrepreneurs share their experiences. Or you can just ask ChatGPT for tips and tricks. These can be of great value. But no matter how much research you do, the bite of the reality sandwich will always taste a little different.

Sarah: “Ceres Weddings started as my side job. That’s a perfect way to find out if you like being an entrepreneur and if your service gets any traction. There is no manual for being an entrepreneur. I’ve got a business coach who helps and supports me. I go to network events to meet other entrepreneurs and to get inspired. But in the end, the only way to really learn new things is by doing them. It’s trial and error.”

Jill: “I’ve always liked fixing problems. When you start your own business, you need to fix problems all the time. I’ve worked for a marketing agency and for a multinational before I launched Marco. I was not a rookie anymore. But you can never be fully prepared for what comes your way as a starting entrepreneur. That’s why I try to talk to other entrepreneurs. I pick their brain, even when they operate in totally different worlds. We do marketing for SME’s and startups. It’s key that I understand what keeps them awake at night. They don’t need fancy presentations, they need a sidekick who does not only develop effective strategies, but also executes them.”

Jeroen: “Apparently, 45 is the perfect age to start your own business. I didn’t wait that long, but I’m glad I’ve done other things before I became my own boss. I worked as a journalist for 10 years, I was a speechwriter for politicians, and I worked in communication agencies. I took time to discover what I’m good at and what I’m really bad at. When it comes to administration and finance, for example, I’m a total disaster. My accountant brings me peace of mind and I free up time for the things where I can add value. I’ve learned the hard way that you should focus on your talents and waste no time on the rest.”

(Even) happier than before

According to HR-firm Acerta, 7 out of 10 self-employed people who used to be employees are now happier than when they were still employed. Our Brain Embassy members definitely belong to the 70 percent.

Jeroen: “The freedom I have every day is priceless. Off course, I’ve got interviews and meeting and a shitload of deadlines. But when I feel like going for a run in the middle of the day, I don’t need anyone’s permission.”

Sarah: “I love that I am my business. You need to create your own path. Don’t measure yourself against others, don’t believe everything social media tell you. Just make sure to stay close to who you really are. It’s the only way to keep going.”

Jill: “I just made my first hire. It’s so awesome that Marco is not a one-woman army anymore, it’s growing towards a real company. I love that I can really shape my own environment. I once read somewhere: ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.’ When I came across that quote, it felt like a huge cliché. (laughs) But it’s true.”

Do you want to join the book launch of ‘Spring Verder – eerste hulp bij ondernemen’ (Youssef Deconinck), on February 13 at Brain Embassy? Register here or check the app.

Our members main take-aways in a nutshell:

1. There will always be reasons not to start your own business. Stop overthinking and jump.

2. Saying no is overrated. Say yes. That’s when the magic happens.

3. A side job is a good way to find out if you like being an entrepreneur and to discover if your product or service gets any traction.

4. Go to networking events, talk to other entrepreneurs, pick their brain.

5. Focus on your talents, don’t waste time on the rest.

6. Don’t measure yourself against others and definitely don’t believe everything social media tell you.

7. Prepare yourself, read books, do your research. But remember there is no one golden formula to get started. A big part is learning by doing.


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