How Childhood Entrepreneurship Shaped My Career

One of the lessons was that entrepreneurship is all about finding the right market for your products/services or creating one if there is none (and sometimes you have to think a bit unconventionally). 

I guess it was always in the blood. At least going back three generations, my grandfather was a successful entrepreneur. I grew up listening to his stories narrated by dad. So there was always an idealism related to it. Occasionally I used to accompany my (late) dad to his business meetings. 

Although at a very tender age, I used to act very sober and used to be a silent observer. How people talk, how do they negotiate, how do they deal, and the most fascinating part for me used to be the cash handling/counting (mind you we are talking about the ’90s when Electronic Cash transfers were not a norm). I still remember, my first ever independent “Business Deal” was with a Primary school friend when I was hardly 12 or 13 years old. 

During those times there was a rumor that some of the newly introduced Rs. 2 coins with Badshahi Mosque image had clouds in the image. Those coins had some ‘other’ special use other than just as a currency. It was rumored that the coin can be sold in some back markets for up to Rs. 350. As common as they became later, it was hard to get your hands on one of those during those times. Anyways, I managed to get one. 

Now the real job was to find a market for it as obviously it wasn’t as simple as taking it to a bank or currency exchange to get more than 150% returns. The school friend mentioned above also used to be a school van fellow so I knew where he lived. He was one of those who mentioned this rumor just like other gossips early teenagers would have among their peers. 

He belonged from a village in KPK and frequently used to boost his knowledge of the potential market for those coins. And when I started asking about it (after getting my hands on one of those coins), he started making excuses as the market has changed and the coins may not be ‘in demand’ anymore. With no other ways to find that market (apart from hopping on a bus to KPK in search of those markets at the age of 13, which could have been a riskier alternative), a brilliant idea struck my mind. 

Now when I look back at it and laugh about it, it is an established business strategy. So I offered my friend to take my coin to the ‘black market’ and sell it for whatever he can get for it but just pay me Rs. 100 and any more ‘profit’ he makes for it, is for him to keep. I can’t believe it but I did a proper risk assessment at that age which included the possibility that I might lose my original investment (Rs. 2 coins). 

But since he was a good friend and used to be a bit generous in sharing goodies with me typically sold outside schools (spiced corn, spiced carrot, and ‘mooli’), I thought the ‘worst-case scenario would be payback to a good friend. So I happily handed him over my coin and started waiting for his next trip back to his village. Then one fine day just after he had returned from a trip to his village, he handed me Rs. 97 with an excuse that he couldn’t resist his cravings and had a ‘Samosa’ during lunch break for the remaining Rs. 3 from my share! As happy as I was with the successful outcome of this ‘deal’, I was curious about how much did he sell the actual coin for? And to be honest I never got a straight answer. But here I learned a few useful lessons that probably will go with me forever. 

One of the lessons was that entrepreneurship is all about finding the right market for your products or services or creating one if there is none (and sometimes you have to think a bit unconventionally). And your product or service doesn’t necessarily have to be straight out of a lab or you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to think of one on your own. Sometimes it’s as simple as adding 2 + 2 and creating something a bit different. 

The other useful lesson was to always do a bit of a risk assessment. If you can still survive with the ‘worst-case scenario’ in mind, just go for it. Growing up as an extremely car enthusiast kid (and things still haven’t changed much), after moving to Australia back in 2011, I realized that the car detailing industry is much bigger and comprehensive (supported with a lot of Research & Development) here as compared to Pakistan. Here I learned that combining that along with good investment opportunities in luxury automobiles and a lot of pre-existing enthusiasm and a bit of technical ‘ know-how’ can result in a value-added product with a reasonably good profit margin. 

After very humble beginnings in 2013 from the automobile sector, later expanding my portfolio to digital assets and just recently dipping my toes into real estate, nowhere am I claiming to be a successful entrepreneur, but for me, it’s a never-ending journey that gives me plenty of opportunities to learn along the way. And one fine day, when looking through my rearview mirror, I hope to see success closely following me. 

Studies show that childhood is the earliest period of human life, starting at the time of birth and ending at the time of adulthood. It is a very decisive period of human life, having certain characteristics and potentials which become the basis for growth in the future. If you are an entrepreneur then you must involve your children with your environment so they can have an entrepreneurial mindset from the start.