That skydiving is an extremely dangerous sport is an understandable misconception. It is understandable given the fact that you are hurling yourself out of a plane. Yet skydiving is actually a safe sport if you approach it with respect, common sense, and due diligence. It presents a calculated risk, just like the risk that being an entrepreneur represents. At 26, I quit my corporate job and dropped out of college to follow my lifelong dream of starting my own business.
Flash-forward to today, when my business, Digifianz, has in just four years gone from a two-man team working out of an apartment to over 20 employees, and even more being hired nearly monthly. We are Latin America’s Fastest Growing Inbound Marketing Agency (Impact Awards 2016) and our full-service digital marketing agency serves both the Latin American and U.S. markets. It goes without saying that this growth did not happen overnight; success requires trust in yourself and the willingness to take risks.
Jumping out of an airplane at 14,000 feet is–literally–a leap of faith. At a certain point, though, I realized that nothing in life is certain. None of us know what the future holds, but far too often we live our lives based on what we think will happen. Some planning and precaution is necessary, of course, but if you assume you have all the time in the world, you might never get around to fulfilling your bucket list. After all, even smart and passionate individuals die in car accidents every day.
Not many have realized the power of risk-taking, which means having the courage to do something that helps you stand out. Similarly, not a lot of people are jumping out of planes or founding a startup. In the end, it all boils down to fear: that little voice in your head that says that something is too hard or too risky. By taking your chances, you tell that voice that it does not control you or your possibilities.
In 2015, at 26 years old, I had an epiphany. Ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to start a business, but I always found reasons to put it off. It seemed prudent to wait until I was “more stable” or had more financial backing. But I eventually realized that the stability I thought would facilitate entrepreneurship might actually make it more difficult. Ever-increasing corporate paychecks would make it harder to leave, and there is more at stake when you are settled down with a family.
I decided to let go of fear and go after what I really wanted. In just one week, I quit my job and dropped out of college to start my own business. You could say that dropping out of college to start a business is cliché (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs forged the path), but I just like to think that I am in good company. I was putting more into my degree than I was getting out of it, and I decided to invest all of that energy into building my business.
Part of my epiphany was realizing that the risks holding me back were not really that big; what I was viewing as the Everest was actually more like the Mount Fuji: still intimidating, but surmountable. In the worst case scenario, I would lose all my money and have to start over again. I am thankful that I have a supportive family who encouraged me and let me know that I had a couch to crash on if it all went under. And to be fair, the stakes are higher with skydiving, but that is why we practice our safety measures!
In 2017, two years after co-founding Digifianz, I kept daydreaming about another bucket list item of mine: skydiving. Finally, I realized that I was putting it off until “someday,” just as I had done with my entrepreneurial goals. So I decided that I would not wait for “someday” anymore, if I wanted something, I was going to go after it in that moment.
Skydiving is not as dangerous as it seems, but it is a very complex sport. To be good at it, you have to be committed, and you can never stop learning or building skills. The same goes for any business. As an entrepreneur, you have to be entirely committed to and engaged with your company. No one knows how to start a business the first time around; it is a constant learning experience. Success requires time and dedication; it takes five to ten years to build a competitive company with 100 employees. You do not become the next Apple overnight, nor do you become a master skydiver after a couple dozen jumps. It takes at least 300 jumps to develop the skills to be able to fly in a wingsuit. Therefore, take it one step at a time, one jump at a time.
Digifianz is now four years old and we have more than doubled the number of employees we have in the last six months. It is not easy. At one point we were close to bankruptcy, but we have managed to grow by 341% despite the economic crisis in Argentina, which affected Latin American markets.
The majority of people often put their goals and objectives on a pedestal, and the truth is that if you never take any risks your dreams will always stay out of reach. So, get up there – climb your Mount Fuji, leap out of the plane, and go after whatever it is that makes your heart light up with excitement and makes nerves flutter in your stomach. One day you could be soaring withyour own wings.
By Dan Patino, Co-founder & CEO at Digifianz.