My name is Sara Sabin and I am the Underpreneur. This is a blog about my personal journey and transformation. So, whilst it’s not meant to be necessarily instructional, I hope that my readers will find inspiration, strength and a voice that resonates with them in my writing.
I became an entrepreneur by accident, not design.
At that time in my life, I was happily ensconced in the corporate world and had no plans to leave. I’d worked hard to get to where I was. Putting myself through the pain of a law degree (in not one but two countries!), training as a tax accountant, and finally finding what I thought was my corporate ‘home’.
I believe that some people are born entrepreneurs, for others entrepreneurship is thrust upon them. Yes, there is a similar quote about greatness from William Shakespeare. ? And that’s how it was for me.
I remember clearly, I was in the St. Pancras hotel in London. My best friend and a medical doctor had this idea of starting a business and she wanted my help, as I was from a business background. I thought, why the hell not. And so, my first entrepreneurial adventure, Medic Footprints, was born, which I did as a ‘side hustle’ to my job at the time. We started out with overseas recruitment but quickly saw the opportunity to pivot into ‘alternative careers’ for doctors. We rode the wave of unrest arising out of the Junior Doctors Contract furore in the UK and spawned an extremely successful series of networking events and big conferences for doctors. Our first big conference went viral on Facebook.
Soon, I began to think, maybe the corporate world isn’t for me after all.
Throughout my career, there have always been, what I call, the ‘seeds of unrest’. The moment when you realise something isn’t quite right. And that seed just keeps growing, until it’s grown so large you can no longer ignore it. By becoming an accidental entrepreneur, I had discovered a whole new world of possibility outside my current perception of ‘career paths’. You’re taught to aim for reliable professions in school, if you’re smart, and you become blinkered because of it.
I was hooked and I knew entrepreneurship was for me. I saved a financial cushion, so I could leave the corporate world, work on Medic Footprints and travel.
I had my rose-tinted glasses firmly on. Entrepreneurship involves forging your own path, making a real difference and impact in the world and bucking the trend. And that part remains true. I still keep a card from a doctor we helped on my desk, as it reminds me why I do the things I do when the going gets tough.
And the going did get tough.
First big lesson: where you’re on to a good thing, competitors are sure to follow. Second big lesson: the first entrepreneurial venture you do may not be quite right. You can fall out of love with it.
The seeds of unrest crept in yet again, the market became saturated at the same time that the trend towards leaving the medical profession slowed down, and my relationship with my co-founder soured (read: we wanted to kill each other 95% of the time).
Leaving an entrepreneurial venture is so much harder than leaving or changing a job, as you have all of the emotion behind something you built yourself. It feels so personal. Like anything in life, though, you have to know when something is fundamentally not working for you and have the strength to walk away.
You’ll note that the most successful entrepreneurs were those who knew when to persist and perhaps, more importantly, when to quit and start again.
I love a good quote:
“Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own.” Robert Tew
The more I do, the more I learn on this journey.