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Irmi L's story on... the entrepreneurial calling

Have you ever felt happy enough doing what you do for a living, yet there’s an underlying niggly feeling that you are meant to be doing something else, something bigger with your life and talents? Once this realisation bites, it’s an itch that never goes away. Irmi faced this head on and made a commitment to do something about it. Often our experiences set us up for where we are meant to be, as was the case for her. Her plan slowly and steadily became clear. Irmi was sitting with more than two decades of experience in designing, developing, and building digital healthcare tools which she wanted to put to better use. At that point she didn't know much more, but was certain that her entrepreneurial destiny would be focussed on making a real impact in healthcare. The plan slowly unfolded and now she is doing just that: she has two entrepreneurial ventures using her invaluable experience in healthcare and healthtech.

“Entrepreneurship is a calling, something you are born with. For some we may stray away from it and follow the paths of our parents, and that which society expects. Some may start their entrepreneurial journey fresh out of school. For many, we break free from employment to come back to our entrepreneurial calling. I started with employment, got closer to understanding my purpose and built up the body of experience required to do what I do today as an entrepreneur. We are all born with a passion, and if employment does not fulfil this for you, you need to go out and make it happen yourself. ''

Irmi believes all we need is to trust ourselves and the path will unfold when we are ready and listening. The dance to entrepreneurship reflects in her story of how she made gradual and timed pivots in the transition from employee to entrepreneur. Her first move was made from employee to independent contractor. Then when the time was right, from independent contractor to a stand alone business with one of her existing employers being her first client. Every day since then, the business has been growing little by little. While being an employee is more predictable with a firm job description, always knowing where you stand, being an entrepreneur is a more unpredictable ride. Irmi shares that a key truth in that journey is knowing that we may never completely have it all figured out because entrepreneurship is a process of discovery and continued learning. As you build new learnings into your business, around the corner awaits the next learning you are now ready for, a continuous cycle of growth.

For her, entrepreneurship should be driven by cause, not money, and an ‘easy does it’ approach to reaching your goals. Sometimes income may not match the passion… yet. This may mean taking time to build the business to a point where it is able to meet its capability to receive. Often we lose the time needed to really build our business because we are stuck in aspects of business where we have little expertise such as finance, legal, etc. Other times we put off aspects of the business out of fear of the unknown. She acknowledges that as a hands-on entrepreneur we are often in battle with ourselves when admitting we need help and taking the bold move to outsource or collaborate so that we CAN focus on our business cause. She has learnt to develop her aptitude to planning with flexibility - a fine balance Irmi works hard to attain. And when it comes to those tough decisions we as entrepreneurs face, she cautions against making them when feeling unsure, this is always a clear indication that we are not ready to make a call.

Driven by cause not ego, Irmi understands the value in a collective approach, where each contributor she works with holds another piece of the puzzle to solve issues in healthcare.

“We weren't given a passion aimed at screwing someone else’s business. We need not compete, but to come together to achieve impact. Stay authentically in your lane doing what you were meant to do. Don't copy. Stay your course.”

To fill up her cup of energy to give to those around her, Irmi promotes that one must make some time to be alone EVERY DAY.

“When the day’s tasks seem insurmountable, ask yourself if you are exhausted or scared. Be honest. Exhausted means you need time to breathe and rest. Scared means you need to push through and keep believing”.

In Irmi’s head she is serious, intensely focussed, always busy and chasing something at an intense speed. Her real superpower lies in how she is able to exude endless positivity and upliftment to those around her. She believes to follow the path to entrepreneurship one must have grit, confidence in the ability to follow your intuition and beliefs no matter what other people say, and a little defiance to combat the naysayers.

“When you think you have reached your limit, keep going, you’ll surprise yourself every time.”

She is an entrepreneur who is truly driven by a cause and will do whatever it takes to fight for it. Irmi has big dreams of solving healthcare issues and is wise enough to understand the gravity of the job. She’s well aware that this is no feat to take on alone. Irmi has built her business models on how one can fight this shared interest together instead of as rivals. We leave our conversation with Irmi feeling motivated, and with reminders of our own journey, it’s true, she has that effect on people fortunate enough to cross her path, maybe it IS some sort of superpower….

“Solving niche challenges Founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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