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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

3.5 lessons in 6 years of business [Wise Wednesdays]

This new season marks Year 6 since my big career leap into the unknown and then into coaching, as well as six years of Wise Wednesdays (260 Wise Wednesdays to be precise)!

Thank you, for your readership, engagement and support for the vision and work that Wise Wednesdays represents. Your questions, suggestions and challenges have also been integral to the journey.

According to national statistics, less than 50% of business ventures make it to year 6, and even fewer to year 10. While this might put you off from starting your dream business, remember that the pandemic has strengthened your ability to navigate uncertainty. I don’t know whether I’ll make it to year 7 but the journey has already been worth the ticket.

In the meantime, here are 3.5 insights from this 6 year adventure that might help you if you’re on a similar journey:

1) Lesson 1: A map without a compass will only get you so far.

In, 2016 didn’t make sense for me to leave a career in medicine that I’d built over nearly 20 years and culminating in my dream UN work and go and create a 1:1 coaching practice that was entirely virtual. Some well-meaning colleagues denigrated the idea because they felt that working online was “not serious”. But in 2022, working virtually has become normal and coaching is increasingly seen as an integral part to human, career and leadership development. While my career map was accurate, my inner-compass started to point in a strange direction. The map was useful for a while, I had to drop it and trust the compass. And then…the map redrew itself! It’s the same principle in business. Many of the decisions I’ve made have gone against the conventional business maps but worked out. Trust your inner-compass. Hone it. Care for it. Celebrate it.

2) Lesson 2: Rely less on advice and more on creating the right environment

The worst vice is advice, they say…In the past year, I found myself falling into an old trap of asking for advice on my business. I found it ultimately unhelpful. Why? Because if you’re dealing with something complex, advice is always going to be limited and potentially misguided. It takes an exquisitely attentive coach, mentor, peer or other human who deeply knows you and has an interest in what you’re doing to be able to consistently hit the right spot for you with their advice (And good coaches avoid advice.) That’s why life and business books rightly suggest that surrounding yourself with the right people, spending time in the right spaces (right = right for you) and immersing yourself in your subject of interest will likely get you further.

Lesson 3: Dream big, start small.

One of the reasons I’ve noticed some people give up after a career leap and/or after trying their hand at business is that they’re led to believe that they have to do non-essential things (e.g. websites, qualifications, trainings, business plans, app design, endless networking or pro bono work, etc) and focus on strategies that are in fact developed for large corporations with big budgets. What I’ve seen that works for those who make it through without big investments is to: 1) Repurpose existing experience and skills with a commitment to continuous development; 2) Consistently engage in basic business skills (i.e. “marketing” and “selling”) which can be exceedingly simple, wholesome and sleeze-free but vital. This will start to generate revenue and lead to the next step and build your confidence. But no matter what you

want to do, you’ll need to test your idea and continue refining it i.e. have real-life proof-of-concept by taking small, practical steps towards your big inspiring vision. It’s simpler than it looks sometimes…

Lesson 3.5: Naps help with business.

It’s a proven strategy. And it works by resetting your stress levels. Enjoy naps where you can.

Who knows where things will go for us this year, individually and collectively. Perhaps, I’ll finally become a hairdresser (one of my early childhood career ideas).

One thing is for sure, change – including both disappointments and pleasant surprises - will happen.

Making friends with uncertainty and turning it into opportunity (or rather playing with serendipity and co-creating reality) is part of the entrepreneurial path and any endeavour in which you take a risk against the odds.

[I talk about this a lot in The Success Trap book (did I mention it won Business Book of the Year in Personal Development and Wellbeing (humble grin emoji)?]

Celebrating you for all the risks you’ve taken in your life no matter how big or small! With each intuitive risk, you create a more open, creative and diverse world where more people are fulfilled with their chosen paths.

After all, there are no mistakes, only lessons.

Zen student: How do you make the right decisions?

Zen master: Experience.

Zen student: How do you gain experience?

Zen master: Wrong decisions.

Have a great week,


p.s. It’s tomorrow! Harness Your Dark Side and Thrive in Uncertain Times will be kicking off at 6.30pm UK / 1.30pm EST Thursday 24th. You’re still welcome to join. Registration here:

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