- Tell us something about yourself?
I grew up in a very deprived community in London, in a community predominantly Asian, with low levels of income & high unemployment. It was very much crime driven society, so having had a very negative upbringing, the mindset to want change and maintain a positive attitude was everything!
Having been fired by my cousin at the age of 13, I believed I had a lot more in me than what society initially perceived I had! So, I set up my first business aged 14, running a web design company with 6 friends whilst still in school. With no experience in business, I learnt a lot through trial and error whilst managing my company. I run the company for a period of two years before winding down, as website designing wasn’t truly my passion.
At 16, whilst still studying at high school, I was presented with an opportunity by Merrill Lynch to learn how to trade in the stock market, which presented me with the opportunity to become a junior trader aged 16.
I discovered my passion to want to inspire & empower people sharing my journey, at the age of 17, having written my first book called ‘The World at Your Feet.’ To inspire people that no matter the age, race, religion or culture, everyone has the ability to be extraordinary. The book opened doors for me to develop my speaking career, at 17, which led to selling 42,500 copies of my book in 9 months.
I stopped education at the age of 18, so haven’t gone to university. Why? Because I felt what I was doing in life with my journey, following my own passion outweighed what I was going to study at university.
And also, far too many people get a degree for the ‘sake of getting a degree,’ – I didn’t know what I wanted to study, and I wasn’t going to put myself down a 3 year pathway which lead me to nowhere! To be successful in life, you must know your pathway! Education, as much it is important, you must know the reason behind why you are studying and the destination it takes you and whether it’s in line with your passion!
- Tell us something about your business.
I launched my business board game called ‘Teen-Trepreneur’ at the age of 18, to educate young people about enterprise & entrepreneurship and financial literacy. The game has been marketed through the education system now in 14 countries selling over 300,000 copies. As well as being a tool to promoted various means of enterprise and finance, for example to promote the new rebased currency in Zambia to young people in all 10 districts in Zambia.
I launched Teen-Speakers at the age of 19, which is a speakers bureau consisting of some of the world’s most influential young people, who have exceptional stories and talk on a personal, business and political level to enforce change amongst society.
I also developed a training programme called ‘The Cycle of Success’ which features 3 training books and DVD’s to educate youth about entrepreneurship and setting up businesses through a 15 step programme, teaching self discovery, personal branding and knowing when you’re ready to set up a business.
My biggest project to date has been my Inspire1Million campaign which I set up aged 21. With my passion to inspire, engage and transform the lives of one million people globally to achieve success through enterprise & entrepreneurship. I have now delivered over 700+ events in the past 2 years across 23 countries in Africa, Asia, South America & Europe, reaching out to over 875,000+ people in audience size to date. The one million milestone is set to be reached in August 2013!
The success of the Inspire1Million has now landed me my own TV series in South Africa, which is a 13 week youth business show, to encourage growth in entrepreneurship in South Africa.
I recently published my second book titled ‘Young Entrepreneur World’ which features a series of interviews with 25 of some of the world most influential young people under the age of 25.
- What is your philosophy towards work?
“Money isn’t all too difficult to make in modern day society. The real challenge is to be able to make a difference.”
It is this quote that truly moves me! Because my life and journey isn’t work, its my passion to want to leave behind a legacy and be remembered for making a difference in the world.
I always believe that to achieve any form of success, you need to address the 7 P’s:
1) Positivity – Always have a positive mindset no matter how bad the situation is
2) Passion – Do what you love doing rather than living someone else’s dream
3) Perseverance – Work hard and put 110% into everything you do
4) Persistence – Work hard on a day by day basis…Consistency is important!
5) Purpose – Live life with meaning and believe that you can make a difference!
6) Patience – Success takes time! Never rush and enjoy the journey, as that is what tells the story!
7) People – Believe in people! Remember that whatever it is you want to achieve there is always someone out there who can and will help you achieve your goal!
- Whom do you admire as your role model? And why?
I never look up to big names or celebrities! The most impressive people I’ve met and admire the most are my parents! To know that even in such difficult situations, growing up in a crime driven society with no job or education, they could still raise 6 children, expresses their desire and love for their kids.! And that’s what motivates me in life to keep pushing…knowing that in tough situations, accomplish great things. My parents motivate me to never have to live a life of that struggle!
- “Management is core to every individual, organization & society.” Give your views on it.
The statement addresses the point that management provides structure and a direction. It keeps you intact with where you want to go, and is needed to support a vision.
It provides stability, guidance and the support needed whether you are an individual, organisation or a society.
The need for management is crucial. Every institute need leaders, to guide and direct…and it’s a statement which needs emphasizing on a larger scale.
- Name 3 qualities of prime importance that a businessman should possess.
I believe soft skills are crucial for any entrepreneur. The three which I believe are most vital are:
1) Self Confidence – This is to ensure you can approach any activity or make any decisions with belief and a positive mindset without the element of fear.
2) Communication – This is a must! To learn to interact with others, network and learn to develop your social circle. That will help attract key people in your life who are able to impact certain aspects of your life that have big outcomes.
3) Teamwork – The power in people is everything. Nothing in this world is done alone! To learn to work with others guarantees productivity!
- According to you, what are the challenges for Entrepreneurship today?
Entrepreneurship isn’t all about an idea and how to make money instantly! Its more a lifestyle and choices that resonate with ones passion.
Many people set up businesses that fail, because of certain aspects of entrepreneurship which they haven’t given enough time and thought too.
Self discovery is critical! To learn more about your own capabilities and develop your own habits that enables you to excel in business. Success always stems from self belief, having a motivation to want to achieve something! Developing a personal vision which coincides with your passion and building a network around you who can help you.
We don’t often challenge ourselves enough which is why we fail to learn what our true purpose and meaning is, here in the world. Entrepreneurship provides a fundamental platform for self development and raising awareness to ourselves as to what capabilities we hold!
From self discovery, comes personal branding! To brand yourself before others brand you! To know which direction you are heading and whether the personal image you portray is the image you want the world to see you by!
The major challenges we faces, are the lack of self awareness within ourselves to realise our own capabilities, which is why the focus shifts from doing something we value to ‘just making money.’ And that is not entrepreneurship…Making money comes with what we love doing and should only be a substitute vision rather than the core focus!
- Can Entrepreneurship be taught in B-Schools/Management Institutes/Colleges?
There are aspects of entrepreneurship, if not ‘enterprise’ skills that we practice in our daily lives which many are not often aware of. But I do believe the need to teach entrepreneurship should be something which stems from a much earlier age, from primary level up…but that is not to say those who haven’t practiced entrepreneurship during the college life should miss out…No!
The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it can be taught, and that there is no age in which it’s too early or too late!
- Is the Name of the Institute from where a student pursues his/her Graduation/Post Graduation or other courses important while setting up your business?
Business & entrepreneurship do not need a stamp of approval or the ‘name of institute’ to get you started or give you that extra boost! Anyone and everyone has the potential and equal opportunity to get started in business…
I always believe that you don’t need a title or a piece of paper telling you that you are extraordinary…You should believe that you are from day one! Everyone has self value and big names of institutes may have good reputations etc but they are big names which have been manmade and have a right to be challenged! So anyone who feels demotivated because they couldn’t get an approval by someone higher up the hierarchy, lacks confidence and a positive frame of mind…entrepreneurship really doesn’t work on a hierarchical system but a level playing field where anyone and everyone is given the opportunity to shine! And that’s the beautiful thing about business!
I personally don’t have a degree…I’ve never gone to university, so does that deem me as someone unsuccessful? I don’t think so…education is great but only if you know how it will impact your future! And no courses or forms of education are greater than living the actual business life and learning through trial and error! That way you keep an open minded approach to business.
- Do you think today’s economy is conducive for a new venture to start upon?
I always try a compare an economy to a canvas! The majority of the western society is almost a fully painted canvas, so for new starts up to take place, finding a opportunity or a niche market is a lot more difficult.
Whereas in developing nations, the canvas is only half painted if not less…which means finding an opportunity is not as difficult as it is in the western society. Its all about perspective and you personally view certain things in life. I would say the word craves for more entrepreneurs, but the poltical mindset of the world is very much back dated, because the key thing society focuses on is getting people equipped for employment rather than setting up ventures.
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter how bad the economy is doing…the foundation of entrepreneurship is to find a need and problem and try and solve that! And we all know that the world isn’t a perfect place! My thoughts on business is that it should never be local. Business provides a global avenue which means some countries will value what you have to offer far more than others!
- “Earning more & more is the motive behind any business.” Is it justifiable?
The world plays itself as a part of a system, it booms when there’s a lot of growth and crashes when things go wrong! The aspect of money has caused many issues in the world and the era of a capitalist society I personally feel is over or is coming close to an end!
Money has no real value! The value lies amongst the people and our community and how we treat that and view that is a matter of choice but for the good of others. The world today has seen far too much in greed and selfishness due to money! And personally, whether you are a billionaire or homeless, you are still human! And for that matter no one should really value money but people!
When it comes to business terms, yes you need money to survive on a day to day basis…but do you really need money for businesses to succeed and grow? NO! I have not spent a penny on my start up ventures! It’s all about knowing the right people and leveraging off their skills and vice versa! That way, there is no cost involved, just mutual agreement which works both ways!
My favourite quote which is:
“Money isn’t all too difficult to make in modern day society. The real challenge is to be able to make a difference.”
That for me epitomizes my personal view on money! The world needs people to make a difference and leave behind some form of legacy! We are never remembered for the money we make but the mark we leave behind! That’s why the need for social change and social entrepreneurship is far greater than ever before!
I say follow your passion and goal in life and you’ll see how money follows you rather than you having to chase money! It’s known as reversing the role of society!
- Share with us the most enjoyable moment you had experienced on work.
My greatest experiences would have to be the ‘Inspire1Million’ campaign I set up. The Inspire1Million has so far reached 23 countries in all corners of the world! I’ve delivered over 700 events since the Inspire1Million began back in May 2011, reaching out to over 875,000+ people in audience size with a million set to be reached in August 2013!
To wake up one morning and see messages from people all round the world stating ‘Sabirul you have changed my life.’ Nothing beats that feeling or emotion you get inside.
Many young people have gone on to set up their own businesses, write their own books. The majority have all developed a positive attitude and mindset which is the core goal of the Inspire1Million, to allow them to believe more in their own capabilities so they accomplish their personal goals in life.
Its such a rewarding feeling, but to know you can travel all four corners of the globe making such huge differences, nothing is more rewarding than that. To get to embrace different cultures, make new friends and take the business global on the journey itself, the experience in the past 2 years has been priceless!
- Your feedback for BMS.co.in?
I’ve personally visited India now on two occasions, and I have fallen in love with the nation! The country is beautiful and I want to do a lot more in terms of taking my business to India! Especially the Inspire1Million and delivering key events based around entrepreneurship, speaking on all range of topics to inspire and teach entrepreneurship to people in India.
I have to thank BMS.co.in for the opportunity to be interviewed and I’m always open to working with many people, especially when it comes to events, so hopefully this can lead to wonderful opportunities in India!
History- Initially launched in 2007, with further launches worldwide post 2008
Vision/Mission- To Inspire, engage and transform the live of people through entrepreneurship
Products & Service- Motivational Books, Board Game, Events, Training Programme, TV Series
Marketing Strategy- Global, taking my business with me to every country I visit with a team to facilitate within that country
Existing Market Presence- 23 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America & Europe
Future Plans- To make a real difference in India
Interview with Sabirul Islam, Young Entrepreneur, Author & Global Speaker by Ankita Dalvi