Creating a start-up is probably the last thing new parents have on their minds when they have just welcomed their newborn, but that was exactly what Faizal bin Nordin did.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
“I had a great job; exciting and fulfilling but in my mind, there was always this calling of creating something on my own, but it took me about two years before I finally had the courage to take that step,” admits Faizal bin Nordin, who goes by the moniker Faizola.
Faizolais the co-founder of Datavis, a local start-up specialising in data analytics. The 35-year-old father of two boys – the eldest aged five and the youngest five months – started Datavis in 2015, registering his business on the very same week when his first child was born.
“It was partly out of fear that should I wait any longer, I would not have
the courage and the ability as my child would have been all grown up and the
financial commitment then would discourage me to start my own business,” he says.
“Breaking a Mental Glass Ceiling”
Fear wasn’t the only factor that motivated Faizola to launch Datavis. There was also the desire to prove that starting your own company is an achievable career alternative.
Faizolasays: “No one in my family had ever started a company and run a business before and I felt it necessary to break this mentality so that the future generation of my family can see and be aware of an option, knowing that it is not impossible to create your own opportunities, even though it can be difficult.”
Enduring the (Un)Learning Process
As many start-up entrepreneurs would agree, starting your own company involves many challenges. For Faizola, the biggest one he faced while starting Datavis was “having to unlearn things”.
He says: “Having a skill set does not determine business success. Business is a separate skill on its own along with negotiation, proposal-building, pitching, networking and even finance. And somehow what little we learnt about business in the modules we might have taken in university or online courses seldom reflect what we face on the ground.”
Of course, once you have unlearnt the existing knowledge you had, it is time to relearn and gain new insights into running a business. Faizola describes it as “starting from zero”.
And all that relearning meant he had to sacrifice certain things in his life, including time spent with his family.
“It was definitely tiring, frustrating but highly fulfilling. Every day was different. I learnt something new daily and it felt enlightening. The difference between this ‘education’ and school though was that every lesson delivered was self-initiated and driven,” says Faizola.
Aiming for Work-life Optimisation
Many working parents would empathise with Faizola on the difficulty at times in finding the balance between their family and jobs.
Faizola, however, has probably found the key when juggling between both these commitments:
“I came upon this quote and it really resonates with me – ‘There is no such thing as
work-life balance but you can always strive for work-life optimisation.’”
“At times, the focus tips onto work and at times onto family. I do my best not to bring work home so that I am able to focus on my family once I step into the house. Similarly, when I step into the office, I give my focus on the things I need to accomplish at work,” he adds.
With this quote in mind, Faizola ensures he engages with his children as much as he can, especially his five-year-old son whom Faizola says is at “an active stage in his life”.
“He likes to go outdoors, watch cartoons and build Legos, and I do my best to do those activities with him.”
Lessons from Fatherhood
If you’re also a busy father who finds it hard to have that “work-life optimisation”, keep in mind these two takeaways from Faizola from his fatherhood journey: “always carry the intention of continuous improvement” and have “the intention of being present”.
“Guided by these, I believe fathers would be able to keep themselves on their toes to adapt to the changing needs of their child and family.”