Entrepreneurship is tough, but when our intention for choosing it is social change, instead of fame and money, everything becomes easier.
By Khuram Malik
When Steve Jobs was looking to hire a CEO for Apple in the early eighties, he had a hard time persuading John Sculley – a senior executive at Pepsi at the time – to come join him at Apple. After much deliberation, an exasperated Jobs asked Sculley the following question: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Jobs’ question is rather telling in more ways than one. He clearly felt Apple was going to change the world in a big way. Indeed, he was right, but by the same token, even more telling are his words in an interview he gave around a similar time.
“When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
Jobs clearly felt that Entrepreneurs built everything in the world around us, an objective assessment of this notion still seems to hold true. The food we eat, the house we live in, the clothes we wear, the way we communicate with each other, the way we get to work, what we do for entertainment – all of these things were brought to us by an Entrepreneur in one form or another. Thus, if we want to change the world we see around us, then it has to be done at the level that it was built, meaning, we need to change things from the level of Entrepreneurship.
Primary Career Choice
When I first started to understand this, I spent a long time trying to persuade people to start taking Entrepreneurship seriously as a primary career choice. Unfortunately, I kept encountering the same objections over and over: that business requires money, or that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or even that a desire for being wealthy is un-Islamic. My favourite one was that, as individuals, if we want to raise our ranks, we should focus on getting good jobs.
So after a number of exhausting debates, I decided it was best to put my thoughts down on paper. I wanted to create a cogent set of arguments to highlight how important Entrepreneurship is to social change. My initial plan was just to create a simple PDF that could be freely shared with others or at most a short eBook discussing this subject. But before I knew it, I had written 16 chapters and had enough content for a whole book. I just kept writing and writing. The more I researched this subject, the more I realised just how conducive, Entrepreneurship to Islam really is.
Thus, I presented every argument I could find as to why Entrepreneurship is the ideal career choice for a Muslim, and then de-constructed and countered as many objections as I could as to why someone – as a Muslim – might not choose this as a suitable career path.
Silver Spoon in their Mouths
Unfortunately, Entrepreneurship often gets seen as a mainstay of the already wealthy or those born with a silver spoon in their mouths. Furthermore, the life of an Entrepreneur is often sold or painted as someone who does nothing, but enjoy the life of fast sport cars, luxury yacht cruises and big mansions in popular cities of the world. Worryingly, in a growing number of cases, this dream is often sold to the naïve and vulnerable with the idea that this is achievable overnight.
Neither of these ideas are actually true. More money to start with does not necessarily correlate with higher success when it comes to entrepreneurship and the life of most entrepreneurs is far from Ferrari’s and ocean liners. Entrepreneurship is tough, but when our intention for choosing it is social change, instead of fame and money, everything becomes easier.
Billion Dollar Muslim is a calling to all Muslims to adopt entrepreneurship wholesale as a primary career choice. It has been written with the sole intention of kick-starting a global entrepreneurial Muslim movement of spiritually inspired entrepreneurs.
(Khuram Malik is the author of Billion Dollar Muslim. He has developed strategies for over 150 companies world-wide and operates a consulting company in London)