A Peek into the Life, Struggles, and Success of an Established Entrepreneur
All of us have gotten pretty busy lately with our lives. It compels one’s mind to wonder that we are literally living the digital revolution where things are supposed to be easy, yet we are so caught up with our work, studies, responsibilities, and so-called leisure activities we do sitting behind a screen, we barely get time for ourselves. The most unfortunate thing is that we have grown accustomed to, or should I say stuck, in this day in, day out routine, and have accepted it to call this vicious cycle our ‘way of life’.
You may be wondering what this short paragraph of philosophy and realization has to do anything with the title of this blog. You’ll understand in a minute.
Answer me this: What’ve you done for yourself up till now that you can call your own and be proud of it?
Won a gold medal in your University? Good. Got a job in a multinational company? Great! Got married to the love of your life? Splendid!
But that still doesn’t answer my question.
Okay, let me rephrase the question for you: Have you done anything that you are passionate about and built something from it that you can call your own and be proud of it?
Not many people would be able to even nod in affirmation to my question. But some will, and they are most likely to be, in one way or other, an entrepreneur.
To me, entrepreneurship is synonymous to opportunity — an opportunity to use your passion as a fuel or catalyst or whatever you want to call it to build something of your own. And in my opinion, that would be one thing you will be truly proud of.
So today, I am sharing with you a story of an entrepreneur who has inspired me and enlightened me about the true meaning of jumping onto an opportunity, taking risks, and most of all, entrepreneurship. Here is what I managed to gather from a short interview I had with him.
Meet Mr. Adeel Siddique
An entrepreneur, venture capitalist, IBA gold medalist, loving dad of two children, and most of all, a person who has got the guts to take risks.
While I don’t know Mr. Adeel personally, I have heard a lot about him from a friend, and in a way, I felt inspired, not to mention curious, about how he is managing his businesses along with a full-time job. Yes, you read it right, businesses.
First, he is the CEO of Official Writers, an academic consultancy and content creation agency, that has been providing a wide range of services, including freelance writing, business support, marketing research, and web/software development solutions, and is about to hit the decade mark.
Second, he is an investing partner in Monster Gadgets, a mobile phones and accessories business, operated via a shop in the Star City mall, and a website, Monstergadgets.com.pk. They have exclusive dealership of Xiaomi mobile phones.
His third and last business is a collaboration with his sister. It is a fairly popular online homemade food delivery service, Kitchenelle — I have ordered food from there myself, and believe me, it is good. According to Mr. Adeel, Kitchenelle is where his true passion lies, as he has a soft corner for food. It is among the top three food services operating in Karachi in terms of Facebook likes and the magnitude of orders they receive on a daily basis, which is a great achievement, considering it has only been functional for about a year.
Oh, and he is also working as a regional manager at Pakistan State Oil, and has recently started his PhD in marketing ethics.
The Journey of his Success
Mr. Adeel belongs to a lower-middle class family of the Memon community, and it is a well-known fact that entrepreneurship is in their blood. Surprisingly, most of his family members strayed from the pack, and chose employment over business. But luckily, he didn’t.
After passing his matriculation, he wanted to study in a private college, but his parents couldn’t afford to pay the high fees. Determined, he still got admission into a private college, and to support his parents, he started giving tuitions. This is was the first time his entrepreneurial psyche tingled.
It didn’t mattered to him that he just have to earn enough to pay off his college fees — he focused on how the small setup he started could be expanded and grown into a full-fledge coaching center. Over the following years, he successfully gathered a sizable customer base of students and was able to handle all his expenses up till the completion of his master’s degree from IBA.
Unfortunately, in 2007, he started to phase out the coaching center business. Out of curiosity, I right away asked: “Why would a sane person close down such a profitable business?”
He smiled, and gave a few good reasons, which put my curiosity to rest. He told me, and I quote, “I was the brand of my business”. What he meant was that people used to send their children to his coaching center because he himself was involved in it, and without him being there, the business couldn’t have survived for long.
Other reason was dedicating a lot of time to the business, which was getting impossible for him, considering that he was, back then, employed at an advertising agency. The opportunity that allowed him to shut down and move ahead from this business was — well, let’s read about this one in his own words:
“Some of my students went abroad, and one of them from the UK asked me to help his friend with his project by proofreading it. So, I said why not, and proofread his work and I sent it back. Soon, two more assignments followed and I did the same with them too. But, after the third assignment, he sent me 50 pounds for doing a good job. At that time, one pound was equal to 175 rupees, making 50 pounds equal to 8,500 rupees. So, I thought to myself that one student pays about 800–900 rupees per month, while I earned 8,500 rupees for just proofreading some work that hardly took me two hours. I was stunned.”
He continued: “I soon discovered that the international rate for this kind of work is 150 pounds. The guy for whom I did those assignments was the son of Muammar Gaddafi, and his whole family used to come to the UK for higher studies. Eventually, I became the go-to guy for the entire family and was getting paid so well that the coaching hassle started to seem problematic to me. In 2008, I got married, and I had to decide whether I wanted to continue the coaching business or go with the golden opportunity I just discovered. And the choice was pretty obvious.”
Hence, that was the beginning of Official Writers.
Monster Gadgets was an idea he invested in that one of his friends came up with, while Kitchenelle is something he always wanted to start purely out of his love for food.
During our conversation, he said a few interesting things that are worthy of sharing. Again quoting his words:
“There are two types of people in the world. The first are who don’t have the patience — they want money for their work right there and then, and can’t stomach any losses. For these people, doing a 9-to-5 job is enough to sustain themselves and family, because they know at the end of the month, they are going to get paid. Then there are the risk takers who just can’t be bound or tamed by the shackles of a monotonous lifestyle or corporate culture.”
He described entrepreneurship as an “addiction” that doesn’t let you sit in peace — you feel like doing something all the time. It has its own charm, but carries a lot of risk as well.
I had to ask him why he is still doing a job, even though he is involved in three different businesses. To this, he said something that I rather found amusing. He is still doing a job because he belongs to a family where everyone was engaged in employment, and his mother believes that having a job is extremely important, even if you are earning a minimal amount. He continued:
“If I tell my mom that I am thinking of leaving my job, she would say that I will kick you out of this house. So, in a way, I am doing this for my mother and I agree that I would’ve been able to take my business a lot further and improve its performance manifold, if I dedicated my time solely to it. And also, PSO is a great place to work at, so it leaves enough energy in me to focus on my businesses after getting back home from the office.”
Upon asking how he manages so many things, he said:
“I like one thing about me. I am money hungry, and that is what drives me to do business. It is my vision to have 5 or 6 functioning businesses in different dimensions by the time I am 45. I believe that one shouldn’t put all eggs in one basket. If one of the businesses fails or is not doing as well as it should, at least I will have 5 more businesses to rely on to. That’s why I have already started 3 businesses in different industries, and continue to look for more opportunities.”
He highlighted one good thing when I asked him about whether all of this affects his personal life.
“My family life suffers a lot because of my job and businesses. My attention is divided into so many places. I feel bad that I am not able to give time to my kids like a father should. But, I am proud of my wife who is very cooperative and understands my problems. She even helps me partly in handling the Official Writers’ affairs. Having a supportive life partner can do wonders, trust me.”
I wrapped up the interview with one last, obvious question: “What message would you like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs? A few tips and tricks would be great.”
“A lot of successful entrepreneurs give speeches and talk about big things, but one important thing they miss is that an entrepreneur should take out some alone-time to flush about all the stress and free their mind.”
“Another important thing is not to be arrogant. When a person gets a good idea and discuss with people, they usually get arrogant when someone provides a suggestion or pinpoints a flaw in their “foolproof plan”. “I am not saying that you should consider everything what others are saying, but at least give it a thought — it may help you improve your idea.”
“Never ever take any business lightly — they all demand a lot of time and energy. If it is going to put money in your pocket, you should better give it what it deserves. And lastly, set realistic goals and break them down strategically to achieve your vision.”
I thanked him for his time, and sharing his story with me, and left his office. I had a class immediately after that meeting, and on my way to t he university, I thought only one thing: Mr. Adeel is just a single person who has managed to achieve so much on his own — surely I can manage to do 2 or 3 if I can put in the effort. Feeling inspired from Mr. Adeel’s success and his sheer determination, a desire to build something of my own kindled in me, and I am more than ever determined to achieve this goal.