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Young entrepreneur: Interview with me about my entrepreneurial journey

My man looking at me: You are kinda intense for quite some time now. 

Me looking away from a computer for a second: I am answering questions about entrepreneurship. I am passionate about this. 

Enjoy the interview. 

anita-puksic-entrepreneur
Anita Pukšič, Picture taken by Tina Jeranko

What are the main reasons that encouraged you to take the plunge on the entrepreneurial adventure?

I left the university, because it seemed like the waste of time. I was always the best student in the class, yet always feeling like I don’t fit into the system. It seemed pointless to strive for grades when I could actually learn and live at the same time in the school of life.

My family didn’t get it and so I wanted to start something that would make them see that I am not just wasting my time, but that I am actually doing something. And I also wanted to do something that has a positive effect on the planet, connects people, is creative and fun plus makes money.

Aaah, and there was a beautiful woman in my life who believed in me, we started doing things together, it was super fun and creative, work, connection, good cause, money, I felt so alive! And then I started a company. Without her in my life I perhaps wouldn’t start this journey so young. Unfortunately she had health problems that were getting worse and worse…

You started your business very young. What did your youth (your student life) bring you to launch your project?

Idealism. Belief that I can participate in creating a better world for everybody if I do what I love.

In particular, what specific skills relative to youth gave you an advantage in setting up your enterprise?

Stubbornness, this sense of I am going to do it my way.

Around you (friends, family, teachers, peers, guidance counsellors, …) what have been the most valuable, most memorable, most useful help you have received? Small and big, those that helped to advance your project.

Interesting enough, I got the most help and support from people I didn’t know in real life until that point (I still haven’t met some, but we are still connected).

I had a blog for years, where I was very honest about what’s going on in my head, what’s going on in my life, how I see things. People who were reading my blog knew more about me than my family. And those were the people who first started buying my things, who shared my work, who shared my blog posts that then reached more people who felt my message and therefore bought my products or invited me to the events etc.

Also, some of my friends were the best at promoting my work. Forever grateful for having them in my life. When others, even if they were amazing friends in other aspects, they just didn’t get what it takes. They never have been entrepreneurs and they wanted to give me advice on how I should run things which got me in paralysing self-doubt at times. Some of them tried with entrepreneurship later and quit very fast, went back to regular jobs.

Most useful help you can give to young entrepreneur is buy from them and/or share their work. That’s what will encourage them to keep going. That’s how you show you believe in them. That’s how they can pay their bills and invest back in business. That’s how they’ll grow and become better and better. Advice is cheap. Everybody loves to give it all the time.

Could you tell us a little bit more about the role that your teachers and fellow students played in your entrepreneurial adventure?

A few teachers showed up during my entrepreneurial journey and the best ones were those who saw what I am good at and pointed this back to me and told others about it. This gave me so much fuel!

During your school / university career have you been sensitized / trained to entrepreneurship?

Nope. Just some ultra boring lessons of economy in high school with slides on projector, memory of this still makes me wanna send a bullet in my head.

In your personal and professional environment (friends, family, school, incubator,…) what were the reactions to the announcement of your project?

In my personal environment there was no emotional support. Later I realised that those people actually loved me. They had a picture in their head how I should live and for me their picture seemed like a death sentence. For them my picture that fired me up so much I sometimes couldn’t sleep because of inspiration and energy, seemed like an illusion. I loved them, they loved me, but it looked like there’s no love at all. It was a heavy emotional burden, feeling unsupported and like I cannot talk with anybody about what’s going on in my life, in my biz, without them telling me to get a job.

Was your youth seen as a barrier or an opportunity?

I don’t know what others thought of it, I can tell from my experience. Sometimes people looked down on me because of my youth, but there were also people who found it inspiring (even said they hope their kids will turn out like me).

Looking back I also see that some saw my youth as an opportunity for them.

The best shift for me was when I read an article about why is the best to start a company in your 20’s. You don’t have kids and if you screw up, nobody’s going to starve because of you.

How do you apprehend (interpret/understand/notice) the moments of failure and success?

Failure is always something you can use for success. If you don’t take it personally like you are a failure because of a shitty day or a month in arena, you can always turn it into something good and inspiring.

Success (for me) is that you do what you love and believe in. That you have people that get you and support you. That you love your life.

Failure is a temporary illusion, success is a state that you can always tune in. People can see you as successful by their ideas of success, but you suffer in silence. People can see you as a failure by their ideas of success, yet you are living your best life.

What were the moments of your life that you experienced as failures? what with hindsight have moved you onwards, beyond those points?

Hmm, closing my company with a lot of debt. Onwards: Realising that debt doesn’t make me a loser. I felt so stupid and like I am not capable, because of debt. Until I realised that most of people I knew had it, and that I don’t see them as not capable losers, why would I then look at myself this way? Also, I love the American way of thinking about entrepreneurship, where they congratulate each other for failed business, because each one brings you closer to successful one because you learn so much.

At the start of your project, who were your model entrepreneurs? who inspired you?

I like Richard Branson because of diversity of the projects. Otherwise, I had the best ideas in my mind, those were my biggest inspiration (and I am finally meeting people who get those ideas and are a living proof of those ideas working).

What do you think are the clichés that can hinder young people from getting into entrepreneurship? More personally, did you have preconceived ideas about entrepreneurship that were swept away once your project started?

That they don’t know, because they are too young and they don’t have the experience. They do fucking know. You are fucking inspired to start this journey, because you have something fresh to bring into this world. You know. People around you perhaps don’t. That’s why if you listen to them, you will stay mediocre and in a few years watch somebody making millions with the same ideas you had that you didn’t put into practice because of listening to people who convinced you that they know better than you.

The ideas that were swept away: that because you have something amazing to offer or because you have a solution to the problem that people will buy right away. I still remember we were laughing in early 90’s at people with mobile phones…

Entrepreneurship is still relatively untouched by women (only 30% of newly created companies in Europe). What goaded you to try the adventure and become part of its 30% lucky ones? What are the barriers that women face and how can you defeat them?

Not seeing being a women as a disadvantage. Not even thinking about it. It didn’t even cross my mind. Until everyone at home expected me to do everything at home, because I am at home and I “don’t do anything” and I “have time”. It was a gamechanger for me when I got studio to work outside my home. That’s one way, get a place where you can work without other people putting their stuff on you. But the best way is to set some boundaries in place and if people don’t respect them, ask yourself what are  you even doing with these people. They don’t respect you and your art. Even more important. Start respecting yourself and your art and you will put those boundaries in place with ease.

What would you recommend to a young person who wants to take the plunge on an entrepreneurial project?

Look at previous two answers + focus on people who get it and who get you more than on critics (while you are trying to satisfy the critics you are losing yourself, your people and money). Focus on people you are meant to serve. This is super important, so much I am taking advice from myself right now. It’s something I realise again and again. Maybe I should put a tattoo with it on my index finger?

Spend time in nature. Take time off. White space matters. Eat healthy food that tastes good. Do things just for your own joy and pleasure – this is where you get the best ideas and energy.

Create now, perfect later.

Since the creation of your company, with hindsight was  there a trigger that had a booster effect for the development of your business? (meeting someone particular, an event, etc.)

I once met a woman who listened to my story and told me there’s nothing wrong with me. I had the best month in business after that. It was so easy and so much fun. I was being myself.

Questions by Andrej Korpar for EMC – Entrepreneurship Movement Club


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