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Entrepreneur is not the hero of his own startup

Your startup is a movie, you are the director, and not the hero, customers are true heroes. Build your story around them.

People often ask me, predominantly our young heroes, what entrepreneurship is and how to become a successful entrepreneur, expecting to learn more about a secret mold that will help them become the next Elon Musk, but the truth is that a miracle gene for entrepreneurship does not exist. Nonetheless, if you haven’t had your genome coded for ‘entrepreneurial DNA’, you can still succeed as an entrepreneur, simply because entrepreneurship can be taught. Hence, while some entrepreneurial predisposition for success may exists, that’s not enough to become a prosperous magnate as being one is result of experience and education. Statistically, it is similar to most other fields such as fashion design, healthcare, or the fine arts – education matters for all entrepreneurs.

Media and certain venture investors have created an image that entrepreneurs are people that were born to be great, telling others that in order to be successful they need to discontinue their education at any stage of their life and focus their efforts on starting a company, possibly while they are still young. Well, without any discussion, statistics tells us otherwise – 95.1% of entrepreneurs have a Bachelor’s degree and 47% even have advanced degrees! While there are a few examples of people becoming successful without any formal education, they should not be shaping our perception of what is necessary to be great at something.

Nonetheless, if you are an entrepreneur in a developing country like Pakistan, you have to be better than most of your peers and creatively come up with solutions for a large number of obstacles. There is a lack of venture capital, networking potential, experience being shared in the local ecosystem, industry-related education, development resources etc. while the demand for digital services and the number of internet users is growing exponentially on a monthly basis.

It is hard to make any real predictions in regards to how fast will the market grow – we can take the eCommerce industry in Pakistan as an example where estimations were not met by the market last year – but progress is usually dependent on how well the entrepreneurs are executing their project and not the predictions. As stated in the ‘Digital Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Pakistan’ report by A.T. Kearney, VEON, Jazz and Make Your Mark, around 300 digital startups are launched in Pakistan every year, 150 of them are promising companies, out of which 3% raise funding, and up to 5 prove to be sustainable, which means less than 2% success rate. These numbers are reflection of a clear problem. Does education matter for entrepreneurs?

Rate of success for startups at a global level is 18%, which is even considered to be pretty gloomy. There are ways in which you can increase your chance of success and stack the odds in your favor. In fact, the MIT success rate for startups is over 75%, unbeliveable, right? The other portion is belonging to individuals that are often forced into starting a business versus having the means to obtain a good education and learn about the benefits of entrepreneurship and various other incredible opportunities like mobile commerce that should be prioritized on the list of development objectives by small entrepreneurs and startups looking to make progress related to their operations.

Pursue specific markets, hire smart people and start small

People often want to build an empire or start a business with million dollars in their pocket. This is a failure formula. Start small and simple, you do not have to build a mall, launch a small online store. Get people on board with similar believes as you, they will often determine the success of Why? Because easier to promote a niche, need small advertising budget, get manufacturers involved, personalize your offering etc.

Read and research every day

It will help you exercise the most important muscle in your body – your brain. It will also help you develop your creative skills and reduce anxiety. matter how much stress you have at work, all your negative thoughts will fade away once you lose yourself in a great story or research project.

Do not allow the opinions of others to stop you

Don’t be discouraged but instead use others word as fire to become a story that others will read when you are on your way to success. Adapt and learn from the errors. That’s how you become great. Failure will help you become humble; it will not determine your faith.

Network until your kids grow old

This is one of the tips I have often mentioned in my lectures and articles. Networking is the most valuable time investment you can make. It will lead you to many opportunities and potential ways you can improve your career and grow your influence. Meeting new people will also help you expand your horizons, learn new things and establish your personal brand.


Rest between the tasks

When we jump from task to task, this often results with poor quality of our work and longer working hours. If you give yourself a few minutes to refresh your memory and clear your mind between your tasks, you will be more effective and work less for better results. Meditation and praying is also very beneficial.

Shape your venture around feedback and experiences

Everyone thinks that if they share their idea with others, they will steal it because it is so brilliant. All of this is false. You need to talk to people about your idea, get feedback, engage with your economic buyers and build or pivot your product or service based on their feedback.

Validate your dreams and promote your values

Entrepreneurs often talk about revolutionizing ideas that they are not able to realize because they need money. Forget your requirements and focus on your execution. Don’t promote your liabilities; promote your strengths and values. Money follows them. Before you approach any potential investor, you need to validate your idea and gain some traction. This will show them that you are able to execute, strategize and solve problems. It will show them that you are a determined person who is able to turn their capital into a success story.

Do not pursue capital, pursue users

Value of every company is found in its userbase. You need to validate your idea, grow your userbase and connect with them at a major scale by offering Painkillers and not Vitamins so you can organically grow on a weekly basis and capital will come on its own, including PR and media exposure.

I hope you will use these tips to start or grow a business or learn more about the opportunity to make a positive impact and create value for the people and country. Entrepreneurship has been evolving through history, becoming more demanding, but opportunities for success will always exist. I personally recognize mobile commerce as one of the most promising opportunities for entrepreneurs and small merchants around the world, especially in developing countries like Pakistan. With number of mobile users growing around the world and billions being spent by them on online shopping, this represents a great opportunity for anyone to start a mobile app marketplace without a major investment, especially small merchants, and expand to new territories, promote their merchandise to millions of people and significantly increase their sales.

As an entrepreneur, I have invested years into research in order to understand the benefits of what technology and portable devices can offer us in terms of growth and progress. At Go Mobishop, we have created the most advanced shopping mobile commerce platform allowing young heroes and classic retailers of all sizes to launch mobile apps with power-pack functionalities in a matter of hours without any major investments or hiring technical resources. As a complete package in a form of a solution, this helps retail businesses avoid hassle related to capital necessities, hiring large teams, maintenance of technology and distribution systems etc. while contributing to development of the local economy and creating more successful companies and valuable resources.

I had always been interested in making a difference, but I started working towards this goal after I studied entrepreneurship at some of the finest institutions in the world. Education allowed me to become more action-oriented. Hence, now I see roadblocks as new and exciting challenges, and not the stressful obstacles.

I will end this story with just one last piece of advice: „In your own startup movie, you are not the hero; your customer is a hero and you are just a director.”

Zeeshan N. Ahmed
Founder – Grow Online Pvt. Ltd.

Entrepreneur is not the hero of his own startupHe is a vision driven entrepreneur, an enthusiast of various corporate dynamics with almost two decades of experience. To empower the economy by supporting small & rural communities of Pak, he mastered ‘Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies’ by Harvardx University and locally developed a unique mCommerce platform, allowing retailers to launch their native mobile app just in a few hours and saves over 90pc of the market cost. At MIT, he learned an integrated, comprehensive, and proven process called ‘Disciplined Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Mobile App Experiences’. He is recently featured amongst ‘men behind the rise of digital era of Pakistan.

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