Are you torn between staying in a career and leaving it behind to be your own boss?
Creating a successful online business is tough and risky, so I always say “do the research” before you decide. Find out as much as you can about the market and industry you’re thinking of entering.
If you do decide to ‘go for it,’ one thing is for sure: it will be the start of an incredible journey where you’ll learn a LOT. But don’t take my word for it…
I interviewed Aminata Diallo, who is keen to share her story to make future entrepreneurs aware of the ups and downs of being a boss.
Aminata is a French entrepreneur who has lived in Spain for the past 6 years. She founded Afiliapub in 2011, which is an affiliate network company that promotes online campaigns in Spain, Portugal, Latin America and Brazil. In this interview, you’ll find out how she overcame the challenges to create a successful online business.
Hi Aminata, can you talk me through your journey?
I’d been working in the online gambling industry, when in 2011, I met a business partner who came up with the idea of Afiliapub. I did not expect to become a business owner at this time, I was just tempted by the challenge and adventure. My partner believed in my skills and me, and he had great ideas to develop the business so I went for it.
After 2 years, my partner left for new adventures while I kept on developing and pushing the company to meet its best potential. Since 2013, I’m handling Afiliapub in Madrid with a team of five contracted commercials.
As you did not have any experience in running a business, how did you deal with doubts and challenges? Did you have a mentor, someone to rely on?
First, I learned from my mistakes. I worked hard, sometimes night and day, I had confidence in myself and in my skills. What helped me the most, on one hand, was my perseverance even when everything was going badly. I kept on going because I believed in my business.
On the other hand, I was lucky enough to have the support of my family. At the beginning I did not realise that I wouldn’t get a salary every month, so I had to use my savings to survive, and when I started lacking in funds, my family did not hesitate to support me financially. They really believed in me and my business.
Furthermore, I am someone who had always read a lot about self-improvement. So I could rely on some books such as “The Art of War for Small Business”, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, “Start with Why”. I was also listening to loads of podcasts and YouTube channels that I kept following on daily basis to help developing myself and my business.
Even today, even though my partner has left the company and I’m running it alone, I have to admit that I might not have succeeded without my team and the support of my family.
What have been the challenges since you have created Afiliapub? How did you overcome those challenges?
Like I mentioned previously, before I started my own business, I was working in companies which allowed me to save money. Once Afiliapub was launched, I had to live on my savings.
It took me at least 2 years before I paid myself a first ‘good’ salary. I could have had gotten a salary earlier, like a year after the launch, however at the time, I had made the decision to pay myself only once the company had reached a certain amount in profits.
Today, my everyday challenges are to make sure that I make the right decisions for Afiliapub, to keep the team motivated, to keep my clients and partners satisfied and happy and to maintain self-disciplined. So far, I’m overcoming all these challenges just by being happy with what I do everyday.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be an entrepreneur?
To be sure about what they want to do and why they want to do it. Being an entrepreneur involves risks, investments, time, knowledge, etc. You must be aware of those before starting a business.
How is your business today?
Thank God, it keeps on growing!
Would you advise people who have just finished their studies to become entrepreneurs first or to work for a company first?
I’d advise them to learn some of these skills first: Leadership, Communication, Problem-Solving, Analysing, Time management, Risk Management, Team Building and Team management, Money Management, etc.
You need to have the right mindset. All these skills can be learned through work experience, but if they feel ready straight after their studies, then of course I’d advise them to try! There is no failure, only experience!
What are the positives and negatives aspects of being an entrepreneur?
The advantage of offering an online service, would be for instance, the freedom to schedule my own working-shifts. If I want, I can even work at night. Also, the fact that I offer a service that I have 100% created, I do not betray myself by selling the products of others, products that I might not even have bought myself. Finally, I particularly enjoy the freedom to work from anywhere you want. From home, a co-working place, a coffee place or even when on holiday!
On the other hand, what was harder for me before I was surrounded by a team, was the emotional charge mixed with the fear of failure and having to stop the activity. Also the fact of not always being paid on time by clients and therefore sometimes being in lack of money. And finally, the loneliness that can happen sometimes when facing certain decisions.
Can you give some advice on how you chose the team you are working with? Did you have previous experience in managing teams?
Yes, I had experience in team-training, and I had also managed a team while working in a company in London. During these years, I learned that to manage a team, we have to organise the work on one part, and on the other part, you need to deal with the emotions of each other.
Thanks to these experiences, I realised that a beautiful synergy in a team could only be achieved through sharing the same values and vision for the company. This was one of my first criteria to recruit my current team. Everyday, I ensure that we all share the same vision for Afiliapub and with such values, I don’t have to worry because we’re all going in the same direction.
Today, I have a lot of support from my team. I’ve managed to build up a strong team who is committed to the success of the company and who shares the same values, philosophy and visions as mine. This way, when I personally start to doubt, they remind my why we exist. We exist not only for the money, but because we want to succeed so we can help and inspire others to also succeed. This is our philosophy.
Now Afiliapub is growing and doing well, what’s next for you?
Now that Afiliapub has some stability, I am more dedicated to helping others to set up and maintain their own business. I also invest in other businesses in Mali, my country of origin. It is time for me to help as much as I’ve been helped.
Thank You Aminata.