How I tried to break through my limit, JPY 10M as gross profits?

I was able to earn JPY 10M as gross profit from the business I had launched. However, I could no longer expand it anymore. I could not manage people nor plan things especially with figures. I left the company to go back to my university. But how could I break through my limitation?

First, I had to fall in love with doing start-ups. As a minority, I loved to trailblaze. I also liked the feeling of climbing a high mountain together with people I trust. And the start-up also appeared to be a being to me. In the beginning, parents have to take care of it. But eventually, it grows, gets independent, and outgrows the parents’ hands. I also liked that feeling of being a parent, too.

Second, however, I saw that unsuccessful start-ups made people unhappy. With little investment, more users would leave the service. Some staff cried upon being laid-off. Its management tried hard to raise funds to save the company, without receiving any salary. Once, the president of the company asked me, “Tom, do you know what is the most important thing to any company?” “I don’t have any idea.” “Paying salaries at the right time. That’s the most important.” I’ve seen some colleagues having difficulties with their families after a delay in the payment of salary is announced.

Third, I needed to learn how to plan things and manage people, to be able to earn more than JPY 10M. And I’d also need to be cutting edge as an entrepreneur upon starting my own company.

After going back to university, I decided not to spend any time for anything except for 3 things: 1. Study at a certain lab 2. Learn English and Chinese 3. Learn surfing

  1. Study at a certain lab

Some Japanese universities have a “seminar” system. Bachelors degree students can belong to one or two labs, studying, reporting and presenting things, mentored by professors and Master/Doctor students. I joined for two years the management accounting one by Professor Kunio Ito, famous (or infamous) for large amount of learnings. And more importantly, most of the projects were done not by individual work but by group work.

2. Learn English and Chinese

Knowing how busy business people were, I thought university was the last chance for me to earn minimum language skills to get a full time job, where you’re asked to speak English. And I had seen many entrepreneurs back then, only a few of them could speak fluent English. I expected language skills may be my cutting edge. I also spent a half year in China, after my graduation from university.

3. Learn surfing

Eventually, this would be the most beneficial to my entrepreneurial career. As a beginner surfer, one day, I realized surfing and start-up would have a lot in common to each other.

For example, no wave, no surfing. No booming market, hard to establish a good start-up. And a boom surges and crashes like waves. Some start-ups established at the beginning of the Internet bubbles had raised large amounts of funds to build a good business base, enough to survive several years after the bubble crashed. Unfortunately, the start-up I belonged to once was established at the end of the Internet bubbles. The skill of an entrepreneur would be third-most-important. Second-most-important would be efforts by people an entrepreneur gathers. It must be most important whether the start-up catches the wave or not. So, the question was, “what wave would I catch upon starting my own start-ups?”

After I went to China, I spent 4 months in Mexico (above picture). I mainly did surfing, while working as an intern for beach-side Japanese restaurant ran by a Japanese entrepreneur. She was also a surfer in her 30’s, energetically working with Mexican and Japanese subordinates. She effectively handled Mexican rogues. Her business went well. She was so cool. (below picture)

One day, after surfing there, I had to make a call to Japan. I’ve visited an Internet cafe. It showed around 10 cents per minute for a call to Japan. I got surprised. The other telephone booth offered a price several times higher. I asked why. The Internet cafe staff told me they used Skype.

After going back to Japan, I tried Skype. When I made a call to another Skype user, no matter if it was an international call or not, it was for free. You can make even video chats for free. Back then, most of my Japanese friends didn’t know Skype. I got excited. Skype will get more and more popular. Skype may be my wave. How about a business using Skype?

[Series]
1) How I ended up to aim to be an entrepreneur
2) How I got more serious to be an entrepreneur
3) How I tried to break through my limit, JPY 10M as gross profits? (You’re here!)
4) Pivots to English tutorial

CEO of Zuitt, No.1 coding bootcamp in Ph & AI developer. Serial entrepreneur. Founder of RareJob, that is listed in Tokyo stock exchange market (TSE6096)