When Life Gives You Lemon, Make Lemonade: From A Working Student to A Striving Entrepreneur

 

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How obsessed you are in pursuing your dreams in life? Would you quit when life gets tough or would you stand up strong after the storm?

This is a story you don’t have to miss. Be inspired and learn as much as you can.

Hi, I’m Joel.

Family Background

I am a son of a poor farmer in a small town of Bohol and the youngest among 6 siblings. My father was a habitual drinker and education for him is just a waste of time and resources. He was a good father but turned ugly when the spirits of the wine were on him.

I always ended up crying when I heard and saw my father doing his daily and weekly routine. I didn’t know how my mother absorbed all of those heartaches. Without her, our family would have been broken. I love my family and my father so much that I promised to myself “I will not be like him!” He was the deepest source of my heartaches but it turned out to be my strongest source of motivation to get out of from the kind of life I never dreamed of.

Educational Background

As the youngest and the most ambitious among them, I’m not comfortable with only having elementary and high school diplomas. I finished high school as a working scholar of Saint Anthony Academy (SAA) doing janitorial and other errand jobs. I also worked on Saturdays and Sundays on my aunt’s store loading in sacks of rice, corn, and copra to support my weekly allowance.

Up until college, I work hard as a student labor at Bohol Island State University – Bilar Campus and spent my summer with summer jobs just to ease up my school payables. I’ve worked on others’ thesis projects and did some System Programming tasks for additional sources of funds. Indeed, with God’s faithfulness and guidance, I was able to finish college with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS).

Right after graduation I was employed as an IT Network Engineer in a Cebu-based company for two (2) years at the same time 5 years as Online SEO Consultant and Website Developer.

Challenges and Struggles

I married early at the age of 23 and became a father at 24.

While on August 24, 2012, my father died with COPD exactly the same time I got a stable job and he already quits drinking and smoking. How I wish I have spent a time talking with him. We never got a chance to talk before he passed away.

The biggest struggle and challenge I’ve met so far was when the magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol last October 2013. It changed the way we live and tested my ability to adapt such situation. Yes, survival of the fittest as they say.

The earthquake cuts off the electricity of most parts of the province including our town hence I wasn’t able to report back to work on my online jobs for almost 2 months. It was physical, mentally and financially draining. Most of my clients weren’t happy with the turn-out of events. I’ve lost contact with them, therefore, I’ve lost my job in time I needed it most.

Being the breadwinner of my biological family and my own budding family, life was at its hardest that time. Savings were depleted and we had to rely on the relief efforts of the government for our food.

Adding more spices to life, my wife was expecting our second baby when the earthquake happened. Major hospitals and maternity clinics have been unusable and we had to travel the longest road to the city to seek medical attention as most of the bridges have been damaged.

The baby was on breach position or feet-first on ultrasound and the doctor advised us to take the C-section. I’ve been very desperate that time because I didn’t have enough money for the operation.  I thought for a moment that God should have been just somewhere. It even came to a point that I questioned my faith in Him. But later I realized that I’m wrong, very, very wrong because I still believed that they were just tests of faith and I’m hopeful that all things will be fine.

Indeed, God answered all our prayers in His perfect time.

By the help of my close relatives and good friends, I was able to gather an amount for my wife’s operation and all praise and glory to His name for giving my second son, Apollo Gabriel, safe and comfortable delivery.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Life’s challenges didn’t end there. Being jobless with a growing family to support to was a much tougher fight. Online jobs were relatively scarce so I had to find ways to make a living. I should maximize on whatever resources I had.

Until one day, I realized that there is an elementary school not so far from our place. I decided to take the entrepreneurial route instead of wasting my time searching for any online jobs. I had to lower my ego, put down my shyness and kept optimism to the highest level. Since my wife is very good at desserts, I ended up selling “ice candies” at the school canteen.

“From Website Developer to Selling Ice Candies” is such a good headline but yes that was true. When life teaches you a lesson, the only way is to learn from it. Even if the income of the “ice candies” was very small compared to the dollars I got from the online job, but for me, it is much more valuable. That’s when my perspective about money changed. I started to value every single peso that comes in and rolled it out to make another peso.

There is no easy money; we need to work hard for it.

When It Rains, It Pours

From that small business opportunity, my entrepreneurial spirit has been awakened. From a single school, we now have 8 schools and 4 partner stores to supply daily and still planning to expand to some neighboring towns. We also opened up a sari-sari store in front of our house to help augment additional income and yes, business is picking up with the help of the Almighty. Recently, my wife also gave birth to our 3rd baby, Aries Miguel, making them three kings and I couldn’t be happier.

So far, my old online clients are now in contact again and projects are starting to pour. And to challenge my profession with the help of some friends and colleagues, we have co-founded a start-up company, www.visualamedia.com , a software and website development company based in Bohol. We are also a service provider to schools, businesses and government offices with software and website solutions. For more information, please visit our website address above.

This is my life story and start making yours!

God bless you!

Thank you for reading,

Joel

About the author: Lebert Omac
Lebert is a forester by profession and currently working as a sales associate in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He comes from a simple family of Bohol, Philippines and is the breadwinner of their family. Aside from making sure that his family is provided with all their needs, he is also passionate about faith-building at the same time building healthy and lasting relationships with everyone, especially to his fiancee. On top of all the things he's doing now, he also dreams of building a God-fearing and God-centered family in the future and eventually make it a mission in order to build a peaceful society. Growing up in a family where he feels all the love and support push him to pursue this dream.

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