Entrepreneurship is something that is sought after by many but the guidelines are known to a few. Being the boss of yourself is not exactly the norm in Bangladesh because it means leaving the safety of fixed jobs and entering a world of risk. However, where there is a risk, there is a return. To dig further into the do’s and don'ts of entrepreneurship, this writer talked to Mr Rafiqul Hoque, managing director of the firm Venturous Professional Institute and Shahriar Rahman, a writer currently studying at Yale University.
Rafiqul Hoque is an entrepreneur and owner of multiple business ventures, for example, international services, technology, and freelancing. He is also a freelancer, trainer, speaker, author, and former instructor of BNCC. Despite being an IT graduate and having an acceptable result, the parts of his life weren't matching to succumbing to his desire. He has been running ‘Venturous Professional Institute’ located at Green Road, Dhaka. Currently, he is studying Human Psychology at Yale University.
Getting into the entrepreneurial mindset: As a business enthusiast from his early life, Rafiq pursued his gut feeling rather than sticking to the usual way of finding a job after graduating with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering from East West University.
"Entrepreneurs solve problems. It is better not to take any blind shots in figuring out the venture. It won't be a stroll in the garden, but it would be a journey of a lifetime filled with miscellaneous experience," says Rafiq.
If someone wants a business venture to be successful, it won't be feasible to go for a project only for the sake of a chunk of money. It is a clear plan that matters the most. "You should look if your project has the capability of solving daily life problems that others' trials could not," adds Rafiq.
Choice matters significantly: Rafiq could understand from his undergrad life that programming didn't attract him. He was looking for something that would involve his earlier passions. Thus, he figured his way out by taking the first step towards creating his first startup by creating YouTube videos to train people willing to become BAF officers.
"You need to decide before starting anything, or you follow your heart when you feel it is time," Rafiqul thinks it is better late than never that someone realises the call of passion.
Rafiq's early days as an entrepreneur resulted from networking and observation. He could see that his seniors weren't sticking to the engineering field even after graduating with an engineering degree. They engaged with government jobs, family business, human resource management, or administrative sectors. Seeing such examples helped him take up entrepreneurship for good.
Rafiq then started to pursue a degree in psychology from Yale University to quench his thirst for knowledge. "A knowledgeable culture is a significant part of building success. I suggest that you read as much as possible so that your knowledge doesn't remain limited. Don't stay confined," he adds.
Shahriar Rahman, a writer and an entrepreneur, did his undergrad at EEE from AIUB but changed his job after realising that he wasn't enjoying the workplace environment. He chose his longing to pursue a career in writing and venturing into startups. His alternative media, HiFi Public, served news on startups and technology. Besides, he did public relations consulting for startups, international NGOs and several fortune 500 companies. He has worked in tech and public policy, advocacy and government relations, public relations and product development, finance, work welfare etc.
Do you need a degree?: Shahriar Rahman ended up pursuing multiple masters's degrees. He first did his master's from AIUB in Electrical Engineering and his MBA from IBA, Dhaka University. Lately, Shahriar did his master's from the University of Warwick in Global Media and Communications as a prestigious Chevening Scholar. Besides, he also holds a diploma in Economic Development from The University of Oklahoma.
"Education makes a person refined, knowledgeable. A degree always helps because one gets a formal certification of ending an academic journey. Degrees also help fill up the deficiency of one's knowledge about a particular area/subject," so thinks Shahriar.
"If you feel like you do not enjoy what you do, or you belong somewhere else, you should make a choice," says Shahriar. He advises taking down-to-earth actions based on truthfulness to self and honesty.
Having the mentality: "It is important to be stubborn when it comes to finishing something, be it for a degree or anything else. I had to switch myself from doing a job aligning with my degree because I wanted to restructure my life and some points about it," says Shahriar. He could visualise that his job in the power sector wasn't getting him what he truly wanted. He could feel that entrepreneurship was the way for him.
Shahriar figured that the mainstream media wasn't capable of solving many problems. To solve those problems by himself, he entered entrepreneurship. His early experience in writing helped him build a career in professional journalism.
Shahriar also feels that what business venture you want to pursue does not have to be correlated with your business major since a business opportunity may arise from anywhere and in any sector.
“The Internet has made it easier for all to learn something new. I have always thought that a degree and a career don't need to go in parallel," added Shahriar. However, some subjects like theoretical physics or chemistry might not fill up the criteria. There would be multiple examples to show that degree is no longer relevant, but the capability is," he shares.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, there is no perfect recipe for success. The same process may generate polar opposite results for two entrepreneurs. However, there are some fundamentals that you need to keep in mind before you become determined to be your boss. That is ultimately the difference between a failing business and a unicorn startup.
The writer studies Computer Science and Engineering at East West University, Dhaka.