I love what I do because life with God by my side is incredible. It's because of Him that I get to do what I love ( Jeremiah 29:11 )...so what now?
Starting off with my parents because I want to give them the best the world has to offer.
My parents were both immigrants who’ve escaped the Cambodian genocide, that killed over one million Cambodians, to start a new life in America. With just the clothes off their backs, they started to raise my brothers and I in a completely new side of the world. The experiences they’ve shared with my siblings and I, and learning how to live in this country alongside them has caused me to become self sufficient through many failures and experiences of a lifetime. This caused me to open myself up to as much help as I could get to progress further in life as I hit plateaus as a first generation Asian American. The sacrifices they have made for my brothers and I to live in an incredible country of opportunity has made us forever grateful.
I could go on forever, so to keep things short as I can, as a first generation Asian American, and the oldest child of the family. I was the first of my family to go through school here. Skipping to senior year and nearing graduation, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Due to traumatizing experiences I had, such as my house getting shot up, someone close to us tried to kill my dad, losing lots of friendships after these scary events, depression, suicide attempts, etc. All these things made me focus on things beyond high school, so I’m surprised I even graduated high school with a 2.9 GPA. I don’t come from money so I didn’t feel like I could afford college, and ending with a 2.9 GPA. I felt like I had no chance to get any scholarships. They say things like, “Oh! College is very affordable as long as you apply for a few scholarships and definitely be careful about the loans you’ll be applying for!” I didn’t want to get into debt if I didn’t even know what career path I wanted, and what’s worse was I knew that I was going into a career choice that wouldn't be paying big money after graduating college, so it’d take forever for me to pay off my college debt. How would I afford to get a house, have a family, etc.? This was all new to me and my family.
The issue is everywhere I went for help, they all said just go to college. It was either work in a factory or college. Nothing about apprenticeships, internships, or other viable networking opportunities to get me connected to potential people that'd help me get to where I wanted to be. In the end, I applied for Indian Hills Community College extremely late. Two years later, I graduated with my AAS in Interactive Media Technologies, but a great majority of the program consisted of things I had already learned by myself starting at the age of thirteen. I highly appreciate my professor, Alex Goerdt, for working with me and offering to change his program to specifically meet my goals that went farther than what the established college curriculum could provide. The one most valuable thing about college was definitely the networking opportunities. It's all about building quality relationships with others at the end of the day!
Although, I did end up going to college. I'd say, if you can afford it through grants, scholarships, programs, etc. and walk away with very little to no debt by the end of it. I'd totally recommend it! It's an experience that helped me get to where I am today honestly. I can't say Indian Hills Community College didn't help me in anyway because that just isn't true. Inevitably, since I have gone to college, but I haven't had to use my degree for a traditional job in my field, I have to say that college has helped me still otherwise I'd be a hypocrite. I have met some high quality connections from Indian Hills worth millions of dollars, but could I have met them without having gone to college? Would I be farther in my business today if I spent two years of my life working on the business instead? I will never know because I can't relive life a second time to know. College is by no means holding you by the hand guaranteeing you success like most think. It definitely helps point you in a plausible direction in life at the end of the day, but for the most part you are responsible for what your college experience is like and how impactful it can be even if you're paying them thousands of dollars. Make sure to read that last sentence again. You are, for the most part, responsible for how your life turns out because you get to choose, and must live with, your own life choices. There are definitely factors in life, that are out of your control that can heavily influence your decision making process but realize those heavy influence factors are not the only choices in life. You can choose to be different, but when you do choose something against the majority. Please recognize that life will get so much harder for you at first, but if you have an end goal in mind. You will be forced to create and take steps toward that end goal.
Fortunately, I was able to get enough help from my three jobs, parents, grants, and Job Corps Ottumwa to afford college with no debt by the end of it. I’d recommend college for things like being a doctor, nurse, dentist, lawyer, etc. of course. Those types of career choices have a lot more of a clear pathway to go down built by many generations before, so all it takes is quite a very large commitment! In the beginning you choose a school if you, or your parents, can afford it, sign up for classes, study, work, and intern super freaking hard for several years, graduate hoping to get hired for the designated career choice at the end of it all, and pay them back for years depending on the amount of debt you put yourself in. With all that said, it's no easy task as you can see. It's a plausible choice in life built by many generations before you. I respect those who've chosen the traditional life because it takes a very very large commitment to pass a system built by many generations before you for a career that may, or may not, be fulfilling. It's also the choice of the majority of America for decades, so of course statistics will be in favor of college. What else was there that the majority of America could heavily be influenced to choose besides college? The success rate to become a doctor, nurse, dentist, lawyer, etc. actually is higher than being an entrepreneur, so anyone choosing the path of an entrepreneur must be prepared for a life filled with heavy uncertainty. Unless someone in your own family line had made the choice to build a business before you. There is no defined path built by generations before you, guiding you toward your next class heading toward a final career choice, such as the traditional world.
It's been statistically proven that people who own their own business have to work longer hours resulting in a difficult work life balance. The average work week of a registered nurse is 36-40 hours a week while the average work week of an entrepreneur ranges from 30 hours to 80 hours a week, but most notably 52 hours a week among most according to Forbes. Since entrepreneurs own the business, the more time that gets put into the business. The more likely they're to make more money which results in how well off they are, so if they don't work more than their competitors, put in extra time/money to better their company, or keep their clients/employees happy, they may end up going out of business. There is just so much risk to a business that can go wrong. Keeping people happy while also competing against companies a million times larger than you is insanely hard by yourself. 50% of businesses fail after five years, and 70% fail after 10 years, yet entrepreneurs create the spark plugs that successfully drive the economies of nations worldwide according to StartUpUSA.org. You’ll have to work harder to find the apprenticeships, internships, workshops, connections, etc. to get to where you want to be without hopefully getting into a ton of debt. It's not as straight forward as applying for a college, and listening to your superiors for years telling you what to do. Imagine graduating college with $20,000 - $200,000 of debt, and missing a few months payments because you bought a house, a car, a pet, brought kids in the world, etc. over time. Your future lifestyle choices can contribute to destroying your personal credit, in which helps you to find potential funding to start your business. Fortunately, I graduated with no college debt thanks to my three jobs. I worked as a full time resident assistant, digital media specialist intern, and did lots of freelance gigs to expand my portfolio. Massive thank you to my parents helping me on top of grants my first year, and eventually a sponsorship program, called Job Corps Ottumwa, that paid for all of my second year tuition. On average, I work 10-12 hours a day, even on the weekends, from 4:30am till 4:30pm. I average 70 hours a week managing my business topped off with working as a warehouse preloader for UPS which provides quality full time benefits, even though I work 4.5 hours part time Monday - Friday for them. It's the perfect job for my needs to be able to run my business effectively as UPS starts at 4:30am and ends at 9am, so the rest of the day is dedicated to my clients!
But trust me, I love what I do and life with God by my side is incredible. It's because of Him that I get to do what I love ( Jeremiah 29:11 )...so what now?
I started a couple businesses with multiple business partners and guess what? They had all failed. Some worth hundreds of thousands of investor dollars, thousands of our own money, and some losing a couple hundred due to never taking off the ground. Something I've learned from all of these failures by the age of 22 is that I'm definitely not afraid of failure. That I actually embrace failure with a mighty hug because it's in the process that we all learn that fruit grows in the valleys and not at the top of mountains.
Successful businesses I've made and have turned out successful are Ches Brothers LLC and www.iowa-merch.com.
Some advice I'd give to make your own dream come true, is to not let anyone come into your business as a business partner in the beginning. You are the only one that understands the way you want your vision for your business to be. From my experience, having been through many failed business partnerships. Business partners heavily change your vision to be something that isn't what you originally had in mind. They get speaking power about how your business will turn out if they are also putting money into your business idea which technically doesn't make it your idea anymore. I'll say this again...once they invest in your idea it becomes their idea too. Business partners are a risk that can be a good or bad thing. Be prepared to forever lose a friendship if you go into business together because one person could be putting in more time than the other, putting in more money than the other, and it can change that person into being less of a friend and more of a bossy figure motivated by making more money. Tell me who isn't looking for a way to make more money in this world? They came into your idea to make more money in the end even if they claim to be goodhearted on the outside. This world we live in runs on it, so if your idea has dollar signs to it. People will help you if they get something in exchange, and that can ultimately affect relationships. Maybe you'll be more lucky to find a magical person who will actually help your vision come true the way you want it without heavy changes.
I am doing my best to also inspire my brothers, and many others, to do what makes them happy. At the moment, I have to get back to business, so I'll continue updating this post when I can in the near future! Thank you for reading this far! :)