How I became an Entrepreneur with 9 to 5 employment mindset?

It all started when I was doing my masters in evening and working in a shipping company as my first job and I already came to know about the importance of shipping & logistics and decided to choose it for my entrepreneurial journey.

The saying, “when there is a will there is a way” is absolutely correct and applicable in my case. I never thought to be an entrepreneur in any stage of my life but when I had to face certain circumstances I was compelled to change my mindset from a regular 9-to-5 job to entrepreneurship, even when I had nothing in hand in-terms of financial resources.

It all started when I was doing my masters, taking evening classes and working in a shipping company during daytime. This is when I understood the importance of shipping and logistics, hence I decided to choose it as my career.

I was fortunate to land my second job in a multinational company. I was happy to be a part of it, whilst I thought my professional journey is going on the right track, concurrently, I was unexpectedly offered a good opportunity in public sector. After much pondering whether to switch to a government job or to continue the current job, I decided to go with my logistics job. On a later stage I joined another shipping company where I was doing well and tried to find out more exciting opportunities and got a chance to work in one of the difficult regions i.e. Europe for which not a single Pakistani NVOCC (Non Vessel Operator Common Carrier) company was working at that time thus, it was not an easy task to convince European companies to act as agents for Pakistan based entity but I managed to establish regular trade in Europe, which strengthened my department to be the most lucrative one within the organization. In short, I carried on my career journey by joining one of my old colleagues with some verbal commitments and kept on working.

At a later stage, I realized that at the end I am still working here as an employee and could be laid-off any moment.

This thought became the breakthrough point of my startup career and I kept thinking that if I can help others flourish, so why not work for myself? If I play a significant role in the outstanding progress of others so, why not try to do it for my own sake?

Although it was not a good time to go for any startup in shipping industry but, Almighty Allah showed me the ways and opportunities by which I decided to move on. Yes, I could not do in same way what people mostly do at this stage to carry on their jobs and establish the parallel setup in the same industry by giving more attention and time to their startup and when their setup is in such stage where they think they should move towards with minimum risk factors they simply resign and give their startup full-time.

I believe that it is ethically wrong to have your feet in two different spaces, thus, I left my current job to work 100% on my own setup.

When I started with my partner, we had inadequate capital & funds with only a single source of investment. We did not have certain sort of funds that could establish the very basic structure of startup so, we decided to invest some part of funding on it, hence starting with a few containers. From prior experience, I knew how to work with international shipping agents which easily helped me develop agency network in different countries.

In Pakistan, working environment of 98% NVOCCs is purely a “SAITH LEADERSHIP” culture where a Saith sahib is ALL IN ALL within the organization even in terms of handling customers with no professional ethics due to which the image of NVOCC companies in front of customers is atrocious and there is no concept of corporate culture either.

Therefore, we helped to bring a revolution which is a primary moto of our VMR philosophy. Apart from changing the traditional approach towards customers and organizational norms, we worked to make our services more competitive and compatible through problem solving approach including flexibilities in various charges. Hence, our brand name was globally highlighted and appreciated.

In the start like any other startup, we faced many internal and external challenges such as, fraudulent acts of some old team members which we overcame with consultation and harmony.

My partner, Mr. Zahid Majeed, and I have a positive professional and personal bonding which has resulted in making our group of companies VMR Lines Ltd and AAA Shipping & Logistics well-run companies.

In the future, we plan to establish more offices of VMR Lines internationally, to expand the services and physical presence in global locations.

Currently, we have established VMR offices in UAE, Malaysia and Turkey which will soon be fully operational.

I would like to advice to the youth to analyze your capabilities, experiences and prioritize your expertise with the available resources so that you could be able to decide if to begin a startup or to carry on your job. It is not necessary that you achieve entrepreneurial spirit only in a startup, but if you think broader, even in jobs people are taking risks and steps to innovate product development and marketing. Or you also can start a side hustle. Balancing a full-time job with a side gig isn’t easy, but it can be financially and emotionally rewarding.