Dunno how I feel about below. The confusion and chaos going through this student’s mind is soooo ME … yet, she has skills I would kill for. You know my love for anything “Flashing Lights”. How absolutely ecstatic would I be if one day I just woke up and found out I could do C+? *ScreamsOfExcitement* But Hammad is raising a very important point here. We have the talent – we need mentors to hone that talent and give it a nudge in the right direction. In Pakistan, I know the MIT Enterprise Forum is very active in providing necessary mentoring especially in the IT sector. Then there is the Coffee Shop Gurus that incubates startups as well as runs accelerator programs. If you need to connect with them, gimme a shout-out and I’ll be happy to make the connection.
Over the past few years I have been actively mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly recent graduates that are interested in starting their entrepreneurial career. In my view, there are 21 things that an start-up needs to consider beyond a brilliant idea.
I would like to share with you a facebook chat with a recent graduate how lives in Islamabad. I am sure there are lessons to learn in this conversation!
She: Assalamu Alaikum! What’s the best business if we have investment of Rs. 1 Million or Less. :-P
Me: What are your expertise?
She: Haven’t done business
Me: Education, passion??
She: Fresh Graduate in Business Administration with concentration on IT/MIS
Me: You need to find your passion first. For a small technology start-up, one million is quite a sum. But again, technology is a vast field! Do you have any ideas?
She: Almost All my ideas require a huge investment. :-P..Before reaching that stage, I must be in position of having vast experience and well understanding of how business are run effectively.
Me: What is your expertise in IT?
She: If I try, I can do hard work in possible areas of IT field like Web Development, Computer Accessories Shop, or an IT teaching academy etc.:-P
Me: I mean what can you do, coding, marketing, SEO????
She: Don’t know anything about SEO. I’ve experience of coding in C, C++, HTML, CSS, VB.NET etc. But what is Marketing in IT?
Me: Marketing is essential for every business. Using IT for Marketing is a business too.
She: First I need to have a business then will think of Marketing
Me: No first you need to have an idea and the will to implement the idea. Next is to find the right people to work with, sell idea to get funding – and 24/7 implementation. If you think of marketing after you have business, I am afraid, you will never be successful. You need to know exactly how will you market your product or service, how will you manage finance and people, third stage is starting the business. What do you say?
She: You are right in accurate perspective I don’t want to waste my time anymore I think one can work on ideas, solutions, and strategies after starting a business because this will not be the end but a start of a self reliance. Please elaborate your statement: “Next is to find the right people to work with, sell idea to get funding – and 24/7 implementation.”
Me: You cannot work alone. You need a team. Also you need to sell your idea (concept) to those who are willing to fund, and when you are in business, there is no 9-5, you are working 24 hours and 7 days a week. Are you ready for this?
She: Isn’t it a new style of business? I’m sure it works better in earning perspective but I have seen people who were not partners but sole proprietors of their own businesses, had investment of less than 1 Million, with no expertise in IT/Marketing, with no business education, even they started their business just like others in progress in the industry as a new entrant in the competition; without a new idea, and they are successful now a days. What are your views on this?
Me: But, you do not have expertise in marketing and finance. You need people to work for you in these areas. I am not suggesting partnership in your business, but anyone who works for you or with you is a partner or stakeholder. What do you think?
She: I can do marketing of business on my own and I don’t need staff for that; even for finance issue, I am ready to handle it as it will be a small business and not a Multinational organization. I may need workers
Me: Hummm. But that is conflicting statement now; you said earlier what is Marketing in IT? Do you know how to manage accounting, pay taxes, submit monthly returns etc? Workers to do what?
She: I thought you were proposing or suggesting an IT business for me. Well, I know and do not know at the same time. The point is that at initial level, no one is expert in the field one is working in, but with the passage of time, people start learning a lot and thus expanding their businesses. At this initial stage, Owner alone can do and must do a lot of work needed to manage the business and rest is done with the help of workers. Workers to assist you in selling the product/service you are offering. :-)
Me: I need to log off. You are welcome to inbox me if you want to discuss more. But thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my views. I would like to use this conversation in one of my blogs on entrepreneurship – Without naming you. Best regards
She: In’sha’Allah will like to get guidance in future as well. Under your convenience!
This chat shows confusion. There are many such aspiring entrepreneurs around us, they are either shy and do not ask, or there are not enough mentor to guide them – We need a platform to connect these mentees and mentors.
Hammad Siddiqui is a passionate blogger and an expert in the field of institutional capacity building. He is the Deputy Country Director at Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Hammad has written over 300 articles on entrepreneurship, social media and policy reforms. You can follow him on Twitter @HammadS.