If you are like many aspiring entrepreneurs who still hold a regular day job while trying to build a business on the side, then you cling to a successful “I quit my 9 to 5 to start…” story every chance you get.
Abu Fofanah, a Philly native, tech consultant, business strategist, and creative entrepreneur, has walked in your shoes. Before he knew corporate America, he understood the foundation of entrepreneurship after successfully launching his first business at the age of 18.
Finally deciding to give up the corporate life to start House of Fofanah, Abu’s mission today is to help other entrepreneurs find brand clarity, create a foundation for their business, and succeed in this epic world of entrepreneurship as a mentor and coach. Meet Abu Fofanah.
You started documenting your journey on your website after quitting your 9 to 5. What made you want to share your experience, especially with taking such a risk?
At the time when I was documenting the days after leaving my job, I never thought it would be out in public. Journaling is just something I always do. It allows me to reflect, understand myself and my decisions. After sharing with a close friend what I was doing, he decided it could benefit others who may be feeling lost or who wanted hope that things would be okay.
There’s no doubt that it’s a very difficult decision to get up and leave your job. But what happens after? How do you feel tomorrow when you wake up? A week after? I thought it would be a great idea to be transparent about my journey. So, I decided to document the first 30 days after I left my job. And when I shared it, it was the best thing ever. I had so many people reach out to me saying they were going through something similar and wanted to connect.
You got your first taste of entrepreneurship at a young age. Do you think you would have taken the leap of faith to quit your job and start House of Fofanah today had you not had that experience early on in your life?
I don’t think I would have taken the leap if I hadn’t had prior experience in entrepreneurship. Because I had, it felt comfortable because I knew the challenges and opportunities that are hidden. The work of starting something new didn’t scare me, there was a sense of calmness within me.
What’s the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
The two hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is having a great idea and getting the right people to help you make the vision come to life. Success is based on the people you have around you working on the idea and if the idea helps solve the problem or pain points of your customers.
With the evolution of social media and technology, what are some areas of business you feel aspiring entrepreneurs would benefit the most from learning?
I believe in automation. There are hundreds to tools that will help make your life easier. Understanding how you can get your time back by automating business process, social media posts, and connecting with others. The little things take up the most time and it’s important to use these tools to get your time back.
What was the hardest part about deciding to quit your job? And how did you prepare?
The hardest part about leaving my job was trying to convince others why I wanted to leave. And let me tell you, it’s very difficult to convince others why you need to leave your job. That’s why I was at my job 2 years too long. That’s what happens when you listen to other people. Come to your own conclusion and leave when you believe you’re ready. Of course, think about the finances. It’s important to plan, prepare and then plan and prepare again.
Do you ever have any regrets about your decision?
No regrets. You have to come to peace with your decision.
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone and everyone has a really great ideas. How do you know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur versus just having a good idea?
I think entrepreneurs are different from people who have great ideas is that entrepreneurs start them. And I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone, and that’s fine. But it takes a specific type of person to create a path that hasn’t existed before.
How beneficial is having a personal brand as an entrepreneur? How has your brand helped you?
Before you walk into a room, most times, you’ve already been introduced through some form of social media, blog, etc. It’s important to really hone in on your personal brand and brand message. Ask yourself, ‘what do I want to be known for?’. That’s helped guide me in the right direction. Others want to work with me because I’ve taken the time to really identify who I am, what value I can bring, and the impact I want to have.
As a coach and mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, what are some common fears or roadblocks you often hear from other entrepreneurs?
A real fear of most aspiring entrepreneurs is the unknown. It’s very hard to wake up the next day and not know if you’ll want to continue, or if your ideas the best one. I think you have to trust in the process and not try to take any shortcuts.
How can we educate and influence more black entrepreneurs?
One answer may be to provide more awareness. Most black entrepreneurs don’t know all the resources that may exist already. I think what Quirktastic does that’s great surrounds the idea of bringing more awareness and connecting people all over the world.
Learn more about Abu Fofanah’s journey and how he can help you build your business by visiting House of Fofanah or following him on Twitter.
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