No loans, no debt, no daddy's money. I started earning my own pocket money when I was 14. That was a long time ago. All the work was paid in cash. Every time I got paid, I brought the money home and left it on my dad's work table. My parents were free to do whatever they liked with that money. Give it all to me or contribute it to our daily expenses.
I don't come from a rich background. In fact, we lived many days without electricity and hot water. At a young age, I realized I had to find ways to help my hungry parents out. My dad's contracting business in Dubai took an unrecoverable beating after the economic crash, my mom's professor job wasn't helping us that much.
So, I started doing part-time jobs. Salesman, promoter, leaflet distributor, free samples in malls, working in exhibitions, extras in shoots. By the time I was 17, I became a good salesman. I remember the last interview I did was with blackberry, where the guy told me if I was able to sell him my worn-out shoes he'd give me a 2 years contract.
I got the part!
The big move.
I never signed the contract, though. I decided I was going to leave Dubai and pursue becoming a doctor. And that's exactly what I did.
Things weren't easy. At the time there were roughly around 300 foreign students in my uni in a city of 1.4 million people. This created an extremely difficult living condition.
No conventional jobs. No business without huge investments. A dud.
It took the system 3 months to get me enrolled and start my classes. The system was very slow back then. All I knew in my head was that I had to start generating income and figure out the finances for the whole education...with no scope of jobs and no capital for a business.
In the 3 months, I roamed the streets of the city. This is why I know a lot about Kharkiv including many ins and outs. I started learning the language and by the time my first class had started, I already knew to hold a basic conversation in Russian.
Classes ran from 9 am to 5 pm. Then there was studying at home including all the house chores. I still needed to find a way to generate income.
The first thing I did was modify the contract I had with the uni. 2 installments, every 6 months, paid in UAH, not USD.
The second thing I did was go up to all the well-established foreigners I knew and shamelessly ask them for a job. Most of them were dead ends.
The third thing I did was go to the Barabashova bazaar. The only place I knew had millions of Ukrainian Hryvnias going in and out every day. I wanted a piece of the cake.
I found a few vendors who agreed to pay me a cut for every customer I brought to them. Remember, I was a good salesman, a rare foreigner, and could speak Russian. I think these factors helped find good deals with the vendors.
I kept finding people who needed things but didn't know how to get them. Most of my early clients were new foreigners like myself. Except they didn't take the time to learn the language and find the right places in the city. I did.
This hustle went on for almost a whole year. The upside was that I didn't have to sell anything, just take them to the right vendors. Also, I didn't have to waste any extra time because all my clients came from the uni or my dorms. I only had to make space for an extra hour or so every weekend to take my clients to the vendors.
That is the basic amount I needed per year to clear my 2 installments and pay for everything else including food, books, stationery, daily expenses like travel, and dorm. $8000 is a lot considering the average income in the city was about $100-$150 at the time. And I didn't even have a job.
By the time I had to pay the second installment, I realized I wasn't making the minimum required amount.
I started going easy on the food, started photocopying or borrowing books, survived the winter with just one jacket and no winter shoes gloves or cap. Started walking 45 minutes every day from uni to dorms to save on travel expenses.
I picked up another gig washing cars privately. Not too much there either but it was the best thing that happened to me.
One of the cars I washed regularly was owned by a businessman. I started building a connection with him over time. He wasn't a tycoon but was living very lavishly.
Over a few months, we built a very trusting relationship. He started taking me on drives, to business meetings and so on. Yes, he knew about my past and my current hustles. Maybe he saw something in me.
Then the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 came. The city was getting deserted and all my hustles went to bust. I survived on either one shawarma or one cup noodles a day.
I will become a doctor.
That is all I said to myself. Every day. Repeatedly. Every time my tummy rumbled. Every time I felt like quitting med school.
I survived the tough time. And it brought fruits.
Remember the businessman?
He offered me to quit all my hustles and work in his consultancy.
This was a bold move. Instead of taking out an extra hour every day from my learning and schooling, I would now have to take out a minimum of 4 hours. But the pay was regular and I would now have a job. I could just cut time on sleep.
Sleep is for the weak, that is where my catchphrase came from.
It was too hard to pass. And it was a very good business that'd help out more foreigners like myself. We worked together on building a consultancy that streamlined the guidance and admission processes required for aspiring candidates. There were many people abroad that wanted to pursue their education in Ukraine and this consultancy would bridge the gap.
The first quarter was a massive success. I played a huge role in it and by the 3rd quarter I was promoted to partner status. This meant 50-50 on all profits. I could potentially be making $8k in just one quarter and life would be great.
But life wasn't great.
A new system came into place that rendered our consultancy pretty much useless for q2 and q3. We could only run our business in q1 and q4. Although it would concentrate our profits, it wasn't a regular cash flow.
I once again hit the streets. The streets are where the money is. The streets are where I found my hustle and my calling. I had to go back to the basics.
I was living comfortably. Too comfortably. I had rented an apartment and left my dorm. I was paying 4 times the amount for the apartment than I did in the dorm. Plus the dorm was overall cheaper because you could share resources with others but in an apartment, all the expenses are to be taken care of by you and only you.
Come 3rd year of my education I was well on my way to success. I was sending home a good amount of money every month, whether they needed it or not. I already established a savings account that was accumulating interest. I found a few gigs as event MC/anchor that paid me once every 3-4 months. The consultancy was paying well. I had all the time to study and generate income at the same time.
I remember becoming top of the class for the first 2 years even after I had to spare time to do business. I also remember how I was laughed at for having a past where I washed cars and middle manned the bazaar. I was always made fun of for leaving as soon as classes ended and not hanging around to smoke hookah or chill in a cafe.
But I had my own money, and they didn't.
I decided to invest big. I opened up my own consultancy while still running errands for my previous partner.
I created everything from the logo to the website of my consultancy. In return for running errands for my previous partner, he offered me work space. Every now and then I
I experimented with running an online perfume store, online t-shirt store, online reselling, and so on. Usually everything on Facebook. All of them did well but to scale these businesses meant giving a lot of time that I didn't have. I am a med student, with 8-hour lectures, hospital rounds, and home studying.
I quit all the small hustles while I was ahead. Took the profits, invested in my own consultancy which had 2 people working purely on a commission basis, and saved the rest after expenses. Most of the work was now either automated, delegated, or a one-time thing.
I was going to lectures, doing hospital rounds, running my business, and doing extra gigs at the cost of a few hours of sleep. Sleep is for the weak, anyway.
Never did I miss any class, any lecture, any exam, nor did I go over any deadlines for payments. Life was good.
Then the big bust happened.
The Bank Bust.
You see, the bank I was dealing with pulled a fast one. It had most of my money, my savings, my accumulated interest and so on. Over 3 years I became a gold member which meant if I needed anything I could call the account manager and they were obliged to come to my location if I asked them to.
But they suddenly shut down. And the manager that was supposed to run to me if I even hinted it to him didn't even mention anything like this would happen. The bank ran off with the money. They were bankrupt.
Huge legal case. Never got a dime back because of some sketchy paperwork.
So now I am back to 0. Literally 0. All that money I earned with my sweat, tears, and hunger went to hell.
Remember I was investing big? I put up $12000 on another business. We were supposed to open a lounge in one of the best streets in the city. All was well. But the lawyer handling our money and legal stuff ran off with that.
$25k in total. In a time when banks are shutting down left and right and the economy isn't so good 25k USD is a very huge amount. Never got that bastard either.
My partner lost $13k like it was nothing. It was daddy's money and there was a lot where it come from. I lost $12000 of my hard owned money. It hit hard. I almost went into depression with the bank and the lawyer situation. Technically I was running on "to be received" money from the consultancy.
But I still had the consultancy and the other smaller gigs. I could redo everything and start from scratch. This time I would have some capital from the ongoing work I have.
0% interest loans.
I knew a guy who was a loan shark. One of the bad kinds. I knew how his business ran so I was sure that is what I didn't want to do. I also had a good idea of how the UAH/USD market would do per season and where I could get the best exchange rates.
I started loaning out Ukrainian Hryvnia. There was no interest. All I wanted back was United States Dollars at a predetermined time which never exceeded 3 months.
I found clients I could trust and started loaning UAH out to them. It was a sort of arbitrage trading. Give UAH, get USD, go to my exchange guy, get a bigger amount of UAH. Buyback USD when the price is lower and so on. Kinda complicated, but after a few times, it gets easier and very profitable. The fluctuations of the market are your best friend.
In comes crypto.
One of the guys who asked me for loans asked me to invest in his project. Back then I didn't know what it was all about. All I knew was put in $3k get back $6k. Sounds good.
Turns out he was trading BTC cfd. He did tell me to buy some BTC if I wanted something for the long run. But you already know how that went. The cfd did well and I had a good chunk on me.
Crypto didn't really become a huge part of my lifestyle until later. I did not know there was an entire world of endless possibilities waiting for me on the other side of the coin. BTC apart, I joined the blockchain game somewhere in late 2018. I put in maybe $50 to get started.
I had an incredible time learning about different projects and crypto in general. The returns I was getting weren't huge back then. Maybe $50-$80 a month. I just started staking and buying and trading more coins with my earnings instead of cashing out. Today, I am a little more blessed.
The $0 business.
By now I am in the people business more than hustling. I am finding ways I can help people and make a buck. Remember, this is all towards my end goal: to become a doctor.
I had the biggest arsenal a businessman can have. Connections.
I pulled on one of those to create a business that had a huge market in the city but still was untapped. ESL schools.
My connection pulled through and within one week I had a legit, certified, one of the first of many ESL schools for adults in the city. It was more than successful.
My total investment was $0. Nothing. Nada. All I had was a dream and a team. The business didn't even run for a single quarter. 3 months into it I got an amazing deal from an uncle of one of my friends who wanted to buy us out. From $0 to $xxxxx in 3 months. I'll make a separate post about that someday.
The good and the bad time.
I still clearly remember walking in the snow with heavy snow falling on my head with just 20 UAH (0.9 USD) in my pockets after a whole day of work trying to come up wth a new source of income.
That night, I'll never forget, my dad called me asked me what was I doing out in the snow at night. I told him I was trying to get some work done and come up with a new source of income. He asked me how much did I make and I told him the truth.
He told me it was better if I quit med school instead of running around the whole night and coming back with 20 UAH. Bank ran off, the lawyer ran off, starting from 0 again, it was too much to handle. Trust me, I was broken that night. I was hurt. But in a way his words motivated me.
I decided to multitask even harder and make it even bigger.
And I eventually did.
I graduated with flying colors. Became a doctor. All on my own. My own sweat and tears. My own money. No debt. No loan. No daddy's money.
I went back to Dubai last year got licensed into the board and was fortunate enough to be in a position to help people. Out of the 12 months I spent in the front line, I donated 6 months of the salary and was still breathing and living. And that's the important thing, living to see the next day.
Now I am back where it all started in Ukraine and am specializing in gastroenterology. In a few months, I won't be a general physician anymore, I'll be a fully trained gastroenterologist.
I want to leave the aspiring soles with a few tried and tested tips:
- Find an affordable yet accredited university.
- Plan out your entire education and the finances required.
- Find a job. Waiter, uber, cleaner, doesn't matter.
- Save your money. Eat less, buy less, do less.
- Invest your money. Crypto is the best investment in this age, or else any good business will do.
- Understand the market and what it needs if you are going to start a business.
- Never compromise with your education. Education comes first, the others can wait.
- WALL TO THE BACK!!! NO PLAN B!!! When your back is against the wall and the world is against you, your survival instincts will guide you. Once you are guided, keep at it. You will find success.