We all know in business you envision one path but something there is a bunch of twists and turns (okay maybe more like a rollercoaster). In those high and low points, you might just realised what you’re doing might not be for you, or your just looking to figure out what it is you’re looking to do.
Mazdak started his business with no exact real idea of what he wanted to do, but after trailing and testing, he aced it and now runs a web design studio in Canada.
What is your business (include name) and when did you start?
Blueberrycloud is a small web design studio based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. We started in August of 2014.
What inspired you to start your business?
I did not want to work anyone, I liked the idea of creating my own ceiling.
Tell us about the journey you have been on with your businesses?
In August 2014, I registered the company name blueberrycloud with no real ideas about what the hell I was going to do with it. I worked in the software industry as a technical sales engineer for almost four years prior and I had some technical experience and I knew I talented at customer service. So I started offering local small business I.T. support and web design services. I picked up two clients in my first six months of being in business. One being I.T. related and the other being Web Design related. I quickly learned that I did not enjoy I.T. related work and enjoyed some aspects of web design so I parted ways with my I.T. client and focussed my energy more on web design. Since the beginning I have been focussed on doing more of what I enjoy, and less of what I don’t; as well as getting better at what I enjoy and charging more for it. Three and a half years later and my love for the job continuously grows though it takes work, I continuously challenge myself to get better and rethink my business and move it forward. I think it’s this aspect that keeps me loving, driven and moving.
How do you handle the naysayers?
My attitude is: What does this naysayer have to do with me achieving my goal? Nothing. I see naysayers as fresh insight as in to what my business needs to be concerned about. Also, I make sure to filter real concerns from the BS “I’m here to bring you down”. I then keep the real concerns in mind, drop any BS, and work on resolving the real concern when it becomes an actual problem in reality.
How do you balance everything? What are your top tips?
Balance is a skill that requires practice and work. I see value in balance because a life worth living is not one only comprised of work, in my opinion. I hope to look back at my life in my older age thinking about the great variety of things that I did, and the effort I put in to doing all of them. I think it’s easy to do one thing and one thing only irrespective of how much time you put in. Choosing to put effort in to a variety of unrelated tasks requires risk taking, hard work and strength. I benefits of such a life are worth reaching for. I balance my work life by managing my time well. I set strict working hours, I do not take unscheduled phone calls. I prioritize my tasks from most valuable to my business to least valuable to my business and I work on them one at a time every day. Putting as much effort and focus in to each as I can muster. I keep my outside-of-work schedule in check as well. I keep the things that are important to me at the forefront of my mind: Family, friends, relationships, health. I do a regular check-in of these items regularly, every day on some level. I recently set up a calendar event every Monday that asks me to check in on my plans for the week to help me setup hangouts with family, friends and my girlfriend otherwise; I can forget and get lazy about it. The less time you spend with these folks, the more distant and alone you become, and the more you make life about your business. It’s not a place I wish to be so I work hard for the opposing outcome.
Where do you envision yourself in the next 5 years? How do you plan to do this?
I see myself having a physical office space with 3-5 full time staff. I do not set long term goals. I am still working on a business model that I then wish to scale. I am a perfectionist in this regard. The system I have now works well, can scale to a certain level, however, I see problems with it in enterprise level scaling. I am content with where I am now so long as I continue to refine my model and make it better until I am comfortable scaling beyond what we are doing today. I have been refining for the last three and some years.
What has been a challenge you’ve had to overcome that has shaped you and your business?
Haha – lots of challenges! I guess my challenges as they relate to business feel more personality related. I tend to feel overly responsible for things and events so this can lead me to make some people-friendly decisions that not-so-business-friendly decisions. Examples include: I will lose money on a project to ensure customer satisfaction, or I fear letting others do client work because I feel they will not do it as good as me so I tend to try to do everything more than I should. I am working on losing the grip on being overly responsible in situations that naturally lead me to behave the way I mentioned. It’s not easy and it takes great awareness.
Who inspires you? Why?
I have no shortage of inspiration; I have always gravitated to other people as my source of inspiration in all stages of my life. In business, at the moment, I like Richard Branson. His book “Losing My Virginity” gave me confidence in the idea that you run a business purely for the sake of having fun. I’m reading another book that states the importance of thinking this way in work as well. I like this idea, it feels contrary to the norm and controversial, but it’s very important to accept I believe.
What has been the biggest tip you have received off someone that has stuck with you?
I do not recall a tip that stood out to me in particular but I think the most valuable thing I’ve been taught since I started blueberrycloud is how important it is to work on clearing your mind, and eliminating perfectionism. The terrible effects of perfectionism became very clear to me in reading Andre Agassi’s book “Open”. His coach saw it as everything that was wrong with his game. That he had the skills and ability to be the best in the world but it was his need to be perfect that stood in his way. It made a lot of sense to me.
What is a tip that you would give to a young person thinking about starting a business, but not sure how to start?
Be honest with yourself. Collect all of your worries and reasons for not doing business and throw them in the trashcan. Then start YOUR journey. Come up with a basic, crappy first idea today. Your first idea will never work. Accept this fact. So start with your first idea, don’t put too much in to, and talk to LOTS of people in-person at networking events about what they’re up to, not so much about what you’re up to. Listen, listen, listen. You will eventually realise what you need to best serve people as your mind starts constructing an image of what people need and want, and what you like to do. Don’t expect success overnight, let this thing be a lasting burn that gives you a high for life.
What are your top 3 biggest lessons you have learnt in your business?
- Do not something you do not have any knowledge on unless you money to waste.
- Just do it. Sometimes you don’t feel like doing something but it’s important when necessary to learn to shut that part of your mind off and JUST DO IT.
- Trust your gut and turn away business that does not feel right.
What is a podcast you can recommend?
TED Radio Hour
If you could meet an inspirational leader, who would that be? Why?
Ray Dalio seems like a cool dude. Ray is someone who is committed to improvement at the highest possible standard. I’ve heard him speak in a video and podcast and I like the way he thinks. He sounds like someone that is honest, and remains true to his values, even with what feels like less traditional values. Anyway, a sit down tea with that guy would be incredibly valuable.
What was one of the first goals you smashed in your business?
Getting my first client.
What would you say to your younger self?
Hi Maz, this is older you. I know you’re REALLY worried about things, everything for that matter, but hey – you’re okay. I know you want me to tell you everything that is going to happen, but what you need most is the unknown. Good luck!
Where can we contact you?