Mantra for Entrepreneurs

And I am back with a second guest post and from someone I’ve admired for a long time. Atif Mumtaz needs no introduction at least so far as the Pakistani IT industry goes. My fav thing about him besides the fact he is a “flashing lights” guy – his ingenuity. He is usually very quiet about his ventures but for this post he came out of his shell a bit and I am ever so grateful to him for taking out the time to write this. Without further ado – read on my lovelies! 

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Entrepreneurs are the crazy ones. They thrive on innovation and standing out from the crowd. At times, they even invite controversy with their radical new ideas and how they see the world changing. Who would have thought in 1990 that Internet could be so big when Tim Berners-Lee proposed it and built the first web page? Steve Balmer (Microsoft CEO) famously laughed at launch of Apple iPhone in 2007, saying its a device with no keyboard and no future. Look where it is today.

Entrepreneurs do things that others cannot easily understand or fathom. If someone else understood what they are doing, then someone would have already done it. They are ahead of everyone else in recognizing potential of an idea and building it into a success.

virtual assistanceEntrepreneurs are also different from typical businessmen. They innovate and create something new. They do not follow others, they lead. In Pakistan’s case, BrightSpyre (a company that I founded in 2002) was innovator in Pakistan for introducing online recruitment. They created something new, something different. It was a time, when internet was still dialup and job advertisements were only available in Sunday Newspapers. Hence, they were truly entrepreneurial and innovative. Ahead of everyone in Pakistan, changing the way recruitment is done in Pakistan. All other companies that came afterwards (Rozee etc) are simply businesses that took on what BrightSpyre had created. They are not entrepreneurs in the true sense. So if you really want to be an entrepreneur, create something new, something different and something innovative.

To be a successful Entrepreneurial startup, I recommend the following mantra:

  • Innovate: Have an innovative and radical new idea. An idea that can change the world, literally. Think hard on what you want to build and run to achieve it.
  • Build an awesome team: Team is the key. If you have a winning team, you will go places in a matter of weeks. But if you have a weak team, you will never succeed. And if your team consists of parasites, those who rely on your brilliance to achieve anything, then you will at best be mediocre. Having started numerous companies and worked with all sorts of players, I have noticed that when I had co-founders who thought they were great but were really poor in execution, the company went down in the long run and could never sustain its growth. They will never let the company achieve its true potential. They are quick to blame others for their failures and will never try to do anything right. Avoid them, even if they are your best friends. Only select the best. The winners.
  • Conserve cash: This is very important. You will not earn a lot in the first few months of your entrepreneurial venture. It is essential you have the cash to last the distance. For that purpose, you need to spend thriftily. If targets are met, if clients are happy, give yourself rewards at the end of the year, otherwise, do not spend. Conserve. And in today’s tight economy, there is no alternative to conservation of cash.
  • Built it, Don’t think it: You will be skeptical of how your idea will thrive in the market initially. Most of this skepticism will come from family and friends who think you are crazy doing it. Don’t worry. Just follow your heart and just do it. Do not over think it. Or someone else will do what you want to do. So just build it, don’t think it.
  • Belief in Allah: No entrepreneurial course will ever teach you this. But believe in Allah and you will see good things happen. When chips are down, when stress is at its peak, when friends abandon you, when your founders go against you, Allah will be there. Ask for His help and believe that everything will be alright in the long run. You will succeed.

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virtual assistantsAtif Mumtaz is a co-founder of Personforce, a leading job board provider in the Silicon Valley, California, USA. He is also running a non-profit, UM Healthcare in rural Pakistan that provides affordable healthcare to those who cannot afford it. He can be reached online at: http://www.twitter.com/amumtaz 

Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in this post belong to the writer. PakiMom takes no responsibility.

Alive and Well … YELP!

I am alive and well, my peeps. Just going through a bad writer’s block. Doing some cool stuff like meeting the Pakistan 25 tomorrow for dinner. Hoping to see the co-founder of All World Live who graciously invited me to the event. Will talk about the power of online work and the need for reliable Internet in the Northern Areas for job creation through IT Centers providing data entry services to remote clients.

One thing I have been dying to blog about is Chalo.pk. But just as I started working on it someone else did a swell job of writing about it. I am not known to follow ‘trends’ … so will resist the temptation. But will just say this …

Pakistan has it’s own YELP!

Yes, dahlins, it does. Put simply, Chalo.pk is Facebook for location based services rated by the user community. What I don’t like is people only concentrating on how it’s wonderful for buying a bag of flour or getting a good deal at a salon. It does more than that … something I personally prefer a lot more than another GroupOn or GroupIn. It is a growing community of Pakistani users that rate and review various cafes, restaurants, salons, shopping malls etc. To learn more, just visit the website.

Ok byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Do it Desi Style

My pretties, I’ve been away too long. Logged in every day, wanted to say hello but always chickened out … writer’s block sucks. But been very happy to see you have all been coming here looking out for me (The Stats Don’t Lie). I love you all too.

But here is what finally made me come out of my miserable, pathetic condition. I made FB friends a few days back with the guy to whom I owe my love affair with online work … Monis Rehman. WHO IS MONIS REHMAN?! Yeah OK … like all of you, I didn’t know about him until a couple of months ago. But I knew his company … Ladies (and only ladies … sorry Gentlemen, I like ignoring you), heard of Rozee? I mentioned it quite a few time on my blog but never tagged it because let’s accept it … anything Paki ain’t poppin’ and imma too cool. *puke*

Lemme tell you my own awesome story once again; I was a school-teacher who had recently left my job and had my fill of lying in, and the urge to ‘do’ something was back with a vengeance. I knew people could get jobs online but had no clue how. So I naturally turned to my best buddy; Google. Stumbled upon Rozee just by chance … was surprised to see a market for online content writers … felt like singing A Whole New World from Aladdin … got my first break with a lady running a content writing shop from her home in Multan (yeah, I have told this story like a gazillion times but it’s for the benefit of new readers … stop being b****y), filled ether-sphere with absolute trash ranging from Benefits of Buying a Condo in Connecticut to How to Get Cat-piss Smell Out of your Carpets, and a lot of other things I am not proud of … but hey, I needed a distraction and it worked (and paid like less than a dollar an hour #SlaveLabor). And then,as they say, the rest is LEGEN-wait for it-DARY!

Why am I retelling something I’ve milked to the max already? It’s for your own good dudettes, stop being cynical … how many of you have tried getting an assignment on oDesk or Elance and ended up saying things your moms should wash out your mouths for? The solution is simple … why did I never think of mentioning it before (???) … look for something on a desi portal like Rozee. There is another one too doing quite well … uhhhhhh … yeah, it’s called Mustakbil. I dunno much about the latter but Rozee is owned by a gentleman from Lahore called Monis Rehman, who also happens to have founded Naseeb which is a matchmaking website for Muslims in the US and the UK. In case you are not impressed enough and thinking of going off for that pedicure, here is why you shallow ones should sit up and take notice: his ventures were funded by investors who backed Google, PayPal, LinkedIn and Zynga (we all know FarmVille, right!). There are an astounding 5000 companies using Rozee as a job board and if you are worth anything, I’m sure you’ll find a good fit for your skill-set.

Wait for a post on another job portal that I am absolutely fascinated with … if you know me at all you should know what I am talking about … ;)

So, if you are not getting any joy on other portals definitely check out Rozee.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Plus: I am more mean than usual because I’ve OD-ed on Gossip Girl the past couple of weeks – no apologies though! ;)

Business is Common Sense

The 25-yrs old does it again. Couple of days back I was whining to him about work and how I should do what my friends say and just get a job, and he says, “Business is common sense, Maria – perhaps you need to rethink your expectations”. Much as it pains me to admit it but that made sense. This blog is not about him so I’ll skip to what it actually is about. What is business really?

In her guest post on Women 2.0, Jennifer Toney, Founder and CEO of  WeMakeItSafer describes business beautifully (and I am a little jealous of her for being so eloquent).

“If I’m cursing, there is a business opportunity.” You know, every time you say, “@*#*! I hate it when that happens!” or “@*#*! Why in the world did they make it this way?!” …. if a problem is big enough and important enough that it makes you mad; if it evokes enough passion that you are writing about how stupid it is on your Facebook wall, or better yet, a three-page blog post; it just might be a problem worth solving. After all, if it irritates you, chances are good that it irritates others.”

I just LOVE the simplicity of this definition. I can relate to it when it comes to WDL. I was working as a teacher at a private school and hating every minute of it. I naturally quit though it took me three long years to reach that decision. While sitting at home, I kept thinking to myself there HAD to be a way around this problem. I couldn’t do anything but teach – no one would let me – but I am not one to give up easily …. :D I started looking around, found Rozee online. Wrote 200 essays for a lady in Multan for Rs. 15k. Found oDesk while shadowing her on the Internet (I am evil, I know), earned about $400 in the first month. Was approached by founder of a not-for-profit startup in SF, CA and became a full-fledged VA from a content writer. Heard about Women 2.0 Startup Competition, and became an entrepreneur. Ladies (GET OVER IT – I am a feminist), motive behind the brag? I had a problem and instead of sitting down crying about it and shouting at God for not  being fair to me, or having a sighing competitions with other women over who has had the hardest, saddest life and hence deserves a place among saints, I found a solution to the problem. I know, I am AWESOME! :P

You don’t have to start big, you can start with making beaded jewelry, or embroidered mobile pouches and selling them on Etsy or Folksy. Or you can start from your home designing clothes for friends and family, taking pics of all the dresses you made so far and putting them on a Facebook page, or you may want to start a cooking class for little girls. It doesn’t have to be a social enterprise. It doesn’t have to have a huge social impact changing people’s lives for the better. Look at Facebook, Evernote, Angry Birds. I don’t feel like a better person for using any but man is a social animal and wants to mingle with people, we all have our own crazy ways of unwinding, many of us have trouble keeping track of our ideas. These businesses banked on those needs. Look around you and see if you can identify a problem that you can solve, something you feel passionate about, something you can do better and differently, find out if there is a market for it. Start with friends and family, neighbors, the random people you have added to your FB list, twitter – and then stop contemplating and take the plunge. See where procrastination landed Hamlet? I always say, “I’ll never know unless I do it”.

Trust me, it has its pitfalls – there are days you want to commit murder – you curse yourself for refusing to get an easy 9-5 job at some huge multinational whose owner is best buddies with your uncle – but it’s fun. The adrenaline, the small conquests, the way the world unfolds before you gives you a high like nothing else. It’s the strongest addiction ever. Try it and let me know how it goes.

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee