Four-year degree. No work experience.
When Idil Omar graduated from Ryerson University, she faced this common dilemma to which many other young
people in her situation can relate. She thought that completing a Human Resources Management certification would make her a more competitive candidate, but when she started applying for jobs in her field, she wasn’t having much luck.
Eventually, she found a place in Toronto’s startup community – first working with Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone as a student, helping to coordinate events and conduct tours of the space (she even got the chance to meet Prince Charles!). It was an incredible learning opportunity which helped Idil discover her two biggest career passions: entrepreneurship and working with people.
“I realized how cool and empowering it was to be your own boss and do something that you love,” says Idil.
“It was one of those moments where I took a step back and figured out what I love and honestly, I love HR. I love working with people,” she continues.
From there, the next step was to figure out how to connect the two. She continued to work in the startup space as the Director of Operations for strategic consulting firm Design Cofounders before launching her own business: Dubad Consulting. Her agency aims to help students and recent grads gain work experience by providing the opportunity to do bookkeeping and operational training services for startup enterprises. The company launched in September 2015 and has been steadily growing ever since.
However, despite having the entrepreneurship itch for quite awhile, Idil still had her doubts about starting her first business. Like many other people her age, she had rent and student loan payments to cover, so the prospect of risking her steady income to start her own company was intimidating.
“My main hesitation was about how I would make money, and ultimately not fail?” says Idil.
Additionally, being the daughter of a single mom who immigrated to Canada from Somalia with five kids, she was worried about what she would think of her decision.
“There is a high probability that my mother will ask, “I worked this hard to get to this country and you wanna do what? No. Get a job,” Idil says with a laugh.
But after talking to other entrepreneurs, she soon discovered that failure is not such a bad thing.
“With startups, the question is closer to, ‘If you fail, how do you fix it’? It’s literally trial and error,” explains Idil.
Now she’s facing new challenges like finding new customers, and balancing her business with her many “side hustle” pursuits which include self-publishing a series of children’s books based on her upbringing, as well as a blog called “The Startup List” where she hopes to highlight other startup companies and share the stories of their founders.
It’s also very telling that Idil refers to Dubad Consulting as her first business. Especially now that she’s made the move to startup-central San Francisco, it’s only a matter of time before the young entrepreneur can add the word ‘serial’ to her job title.
“I definitely want to be 90 and have a ton of startups under my belt,” says Idil. “I see myself doing a lot more. There’s so much more to come.”
Idil’s career advice
“You work to live, you don’t live to work.” A rough translation of Somali proverb, this advice comes straight from Idil’s mom and helps her put things in perspective.
Get inspired. Find mentors, do your research, and make your idea happen. “Watch a lot of TED talks,” Idil adds. “That stuff works!”