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!
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.
Entrepreneurs 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.
Atif 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
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