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Entrepreneurship log - month 12

It’s now slightly more than a full year since I embarked on the entrepreneurial path, and 7 months since I left my full time job to focus on my actuarial consulting firm.


What am I grateful for?


Freedom

Freedom to explore, freedom to learn and grow at much more rapid pace and wider way than ever before.


Never before have I had the freedom to be simultaneously involved in multiple projects spanning different countries and domains at the same time (admittedly I have never worked in another consulting role before - not sure why though). Never before have I been able to speak to various founders and CEOs, all at the same time, collaborating with various personalities & visionaries.


Freedom with my time is another benefit I’ve gained. Yes I do have some meetings at odd hours now and then, and I do some work on weekends too, but most of the time I have freedom to decide when and where I get my work done, subject to deadlines.


Independence

As an actuary, having an independent voice is important to me. Being able to speak and post publicly my honest and frank views, especially on social matters relating to my actuarial expertise, matters a lot to me.

As an employee, it is often an implicit and sometimes an explicit expectation, that we need to toe the company line. Being free of these limitations feels like mental and spiritual freedom for me.


Admittedly I’m somewhat of a hermit, and too much exposure to people drains my energy. I probably should be posting more on social media and networking regularly, but my inclination now is towards meditation and reading. But that’s okay, I’m not in a rush - I will get there when I get there, and probably I have my own way of going about this..


Economic Self-Reliance

Many of my actuarial friends told me they aren’t brave enough to take the step I took. Looking back - yes there were many moments where I could have doubted instead of being optimistic.


But then again, looking at our friends who are lawyers and accountants - it’s so common for them to run their own firms after gathering some experience. Why can’t we actuaries do the same?

In fact, it’s a very common for actuaries in Australia and UK to run their own firms or be independent contractors. There is a mental hurdle to cross as a Malaysian actuary, as it is very uncommon here in Malaysia for actuaries to become entrepreneurs.


What did I gain economically? I will say the main economic benefit is self reliance, in two ways. First, I have gained self-reliance for my self - my earning potential is now in my own hands, and I don't have to lobby an employer for salary increments and bonuses, not knowing if my hard work will convert into an economic reward. As a business owner, I can tie the value I generate for my clients almost directly and visibly to the revenue that I generate.


Secondly, I have gained self-reliance as a leader. In an organisation, as a middle manager, we are keen to retain and reward our performing team members. They also look to us for their career advancements and economic rewards. Unfortunately, the way most corporates are structured, middle managers have limited visibility and control over the decision making process for promotions, increments and bonuses given to team members and often it gets put through a HR black box process that is explained away with corporate jargon.


As a business owner, I am in full control over how I compensate and reward my team members, of course limited by economic constraints. But I can link business growth to better compensation and rewards for my team, which empowers me immensely.


What have I given up?


Economic stability

I have to say that an actuarial consultancy probably has the least risk among all other business options. Generating stable revenues is well within the capability of this type of business, possibly resulting in security similar to or in some ways better than employment.


Then again, I’ve taken this step having very little personal commitments. My close friend and mentor took this step 5 years ago when he was married and just after having his second kid, so it’s laughable for me to say that I’m making a risky move.


But generally speaking, yes, I have given up the security of a conventional job and it’s now a regular practice to check on my cash flow streams and strategise.


The work community

In the workplace, we have a community of colleagues and team members going through similar experiences, working in the same environment, addressing the same challenges together.


Now, yes I do have a community of a different type, but it many instances it is a lonely journey. There are many business decisions to make on a daily basis where I do it alone. In some cases I consult collaborators or team members, sometimes I don’t. Most of the time I’m solely responsible for the success or failure of the decisions and risks involved.


Prestige of a big name employer

As far as actuarial companies go, I’m effectively running a small hawker stall. It’s a humbling experience getting rejected by candidates because of this, and to acknowledge that I’m a very different type of employer from a Big 4 consultancy, Milliman, Towers Watson, insurance companies etc.


But I do have team members, clients and collaborators who seek me out because of this. There are different advantages I bring to my clients, team members and collaborators because of my niche boutique structure.

So now I wear it as a badge of honour and seek out those who resonate with me.


In a nutshell


I’m forging ahead! I feel so blessed to be able to embark on this journey and am having the time of my life.


Yes I haven’t had a proper holiday for a long time & I’m not sure how I would do that now. Hmm.

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