Khadiza Shahid interviews Khuram Malik, an entrepreneur who says being in control of your work can make you financially freer but it does come with responsibility just like in any working environment. Wherever you are based, one of the keys to success is great digital marketing. If you’re trying to make it as an entrepreneur in Australia for example, take a look at this Australian SEO agency. If you want more information on becoming an entrepreneur then take a look at www.glozine.com, where they also give you resources like free invoice templates to keep on top of your performance tracking in your business. However, there are some entrepreneurs who find that the hard, because of the financial strain that comes with
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5Pillars: What line of work are you in? Tell me about your business?
Khurram Malik: I’m a Business Strategy Consultant. So businesses and organisations approach me to help them with their growth challenges related to strategy. I work with C-Level staff to understand their challenges and construct a strategy and action plan to resolve them. Over the last 2 years, I’ve worked with more than 150 businesses around the globe. To date – as a 5-star rate consultant – there have only been 2 business that I’ve not been able to add value to. I’m also working on launching a book “Billionaire Dollar Muslim”, which I hope to get published in the next year. A publisher has already shown interest in working with me on it.
5P: Tell me about your background?
KM: I’ve been in entrepreneurship for 17 years. I got into it in the 90s through an uncle’s friend who liked computers and was selling them. At the peak of his business, he was earning £30k a day. I was 18 at the time. I learnt the ropes by spending a lot of time with him. From the age of 16, I was working 60 hours a week. My first business was similarly a computer retail outlet while I completed my degree at university. I’ve also been involved with another 3 businesses since then.
5P: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
KM: My uncle’s friend to start with. I would see my parents both hard working trying to make ends meet with little in the way of progress or fulfilment. And in comparison, my uncle’s friend was in total control of what he wanted to do and was having fun in his work. I could see the difference in their incomes and which one offered better financial freedom. So it was so clear and it made sense which path I needed to take.
5P: How much money do you make?
KM: Put it this way: I make more money in 4 hours than most people make in 40. That said – as an entrepreneur – income can fluctuate while one is building the business up. The second business that I was involved in, which was also a computer shop selling PCs, reached a revenue of just under £1 million. I was just 20 at the time. But my father had legal control of this business, so while I helped generate the money I didn’t get much of a say in where it got spent.
5P: Were you scared of the risks involved in becoming an entrepreneur?
KM: No, not really. It was all play. I had a lot of fun in the beginning. But then my father made me do everything and then things became tedious! There are definitely risks. Some things did go wrong. We lost a lot of money very quickly. My dad was ill in hospital. I got really ill too. We were threatened with a lawsuit. There was a lot of stress, although none of that needed to have happened. Having said that, it can happen in any working environment.
KM: Yes, I get to call all the shots. But it’s all on you. Realistically, you have yourself to blame if it goes wrong. People are afraid of the responsibility of it all.
5P: Do you have lots of staff?
KM: No, I’m independent. I started this business in the last couple of years. I have part-time staff that work on a freelance basis. I outsource work to them. In the next year, it will get more interesting as I will be getting involved more in marketing.
5P: Has being a Muslim ever been an impediment in your work?
KM: To some extent. There are challenges. For example, I was looking to work with a new but high-profile business bank. They could very well become the next Apple or Google of business banking in the UK. They are expected to get on the scene within the next couple of years. I spoke to the CEO and we were on the same wavelength – their bank accounts are not interest-based as they do not provide an overdraft facility. But then I inquired about how they intend to make their money. I discovered it is from selling finance products that are interest-based. So I had to turn that business away.
I’ve had alcohol based companies, such as nightclubs, approaching me too. I also had to turn them away due to my beliefs. What would I be encouraging by supporting them? It doesn’t sit with my conscience, really.
5P: There are quite a lot of Muslim entrepreneurs out there. Why are we so attracted to this sort of career?
KM: There are many Muslims who run or own businesses but I don’t class them as entrepreneurs. 90% of them are not entrepreneurial because they don’t approach business in a way in which they think will create change. The real job of an entrepreneur is to identify opportunities and create societal change. They need to see problems in the world that they can solve. A female entrepreneur Natalie Sisson (known as the Suitcase Entrepreneur) has summed up entrepreneurs really well – “I define an entrepreneur as an agent of change, instigator of the impossible and maker of movements that matter.”
Most of the time though, Muslims (especially the previous generation) have been attracted to this route because there was no alternative. They couldn’t get a job, lacked education, and had low confidence in working in professional jobs. But they would still encourage their children to become doctors and lawyers.
The second generation tend to be drawn to this career because of difficulties also in securing a job as well. The recession has hit them hard. It is common for them to think if they are in a state of uncertainty with money, then they might as well go it alone.
5P: How do you think entrepreneurship can help lift Muslims out of poverty and low incomes?
KM: It can make them financially freer. If you can wake up in the morning and do whatever you want, then that’s real wealth. Most people work for others, pay cheque to pay cheque. That’s dependence.
5P: What drives and motivates you in your career?
KM: The number one factor for me is change for the long-term. Secondly, money motivates me because I am seeking financial freedom that can enable me to work on the real things that matter. And lastly, genuine customer satisfaction helps – I find it very rewarding to see my clients satisfied with my work.
KM: They are mostly a hindrance. You have to unlearn most things. Even though academia teaches you things like marketing and developing a business plan, it can lead to overthinking stuff. These are rather more relevant to a business that has grown over one or two years. Having said that, some MBA programmes are quite good. But most are unnecessary.
5P: Do you think Muslims have good business ethics? A lot of Muslims I know say they’d prefer to work for non Muslims!
KM: No. Very few do. 9 out of 10 have no ethics whatsoever. They don’t have integrity.
One Muslim client took me out for a meal to celebrate the work we had done. He generously encouraged us to eat and offered to pay the bill. The bill came to about £100. When I sent the invoice for my services, he retorts: it has already been paid for with the food! In essence, he was trying to trade a £100 meal for a £700 invoice for services!
In another instance, I had arranged to meet a client. They knew I had to travel far by train to reach their office. But 10 minutes before I arrived at the office that morning, they cancelled the meeting by email.
Non-Muslims have integrity. They keep their promises – if they say they’ll turn up at 10am, they turn up. Yes, Muslims want to work with non-Muslims because of their integrity but they don’t have the same integrity themselves.
You can check Khuram’s website out here on you can follow him on Twitter @KhuramMalik