At the age of 17, the world of business captivated me with its allure of entrepreneurial autonomy and unlimited potential. The idea of becoming my own boss, charting my own path was an intoxicating vision that spurred me to dive headfirst into starting my own business. Nothing was going to stop me. For every obstacle I would find a solution. I was too young to open a business bank account, so I settled for using my student bank account. Maybe foolish looking back, but nothing could deter me. I was brimming with enthusiasm and that carried me past each hurdle.

I ventured into offering design and printing services to businesses. Looking back, I'm not sure the idea itself was that exciting, but it was the first real idea I came across. Any business would have got me excited back then. I chose my business name, designed my logo, and set up my domain name and email. The internet was pretty new in 1999, it was all dial‐up, but I got a single page up online. I also got myself an impressive batch of business cards ready to hand out to the hundreds of people who would want to do business with me.

I was open for business. And nothing happened.

I dropped leaflets around industrial estates, showed up at networking events, put in tireless efforts to drum up business, yet the phone remained eerily silent. A question gnawed at me: “Why is this so hard?” After all, I could see the potential in my business, so why couldn't others?

I did land some business deals, even a few significant ...

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