Hi Ali, could you tell me more about yourself?
I have been involved with social entrepreneurship for 10 years in learning and development and created Kiik start 8 years ago. Before this I did a post graduate course in advertising and marketing. I remembered coming out of my study feeling more confused than I was informed. I thought I had these studies but don’t know how to turn them into something that people can pay you money for but I always knew my long term vision was in education.
I worked with some big agencies, made some poor choices career-wise and I realised I didn’t know enough about myself where I was going to be the best fit so I did a lot of work around that.
Kiik start is all about the execution of the idea to the market, it is all about the how. There are a lot of focus on strategy and big picture stuff yet lacking the steps to get from just an idea to make it into a reality. My work revolves around helping people reinvent themselves regardless of whether they are an entrepreneur or intrapreneur. I have worked with dozens of organisations across tourism, government, retail, hospitality, community services and over 1700 people and counting in SA.
Can you still keep going when your bank account decrease every day? That is a whole different skill set you need to have. The game will always evolve so you need to be the same.
What inspired you to make that transition from 9-5 job into running your own venture?
I was basically unemployable, I was let go twice and I am very honest about this. Sometime you have a vision and strong desire to do something but you can’t work within someone else’s framework. 10 years later on I still have to be courageous in my path because the market keeps changing. Personally there isn’t a Plan B so I just have to make things happen.
You said you realised you were unemployable, how did you feel at that moment?
I had a really honest conversation with my mum. I let her know about my ex-boss and my mum said to me that maybe they really are incompetent but there was a common thread there and it was you and you need to do something differently.
The timing is never perfect to start your business but it was just a gut instinct. I had some really strong experience in the industry, a very supportive partner, so I knew what was going on and built a really good complementary skill sets and expertise which helped me determine where to add the most benefit in my business.
How do you inspire people to go beyond their comfort zone?
You have to know why you are doing this. You will be surprised at how hard it is for people to understand why they do what they do. Without your purpose, you will get knocked back after the first difficulty.
From the 1700 I worked with, only a handful have not been able to complete the whole process. I am right for a lot of people, but not for everyone. You got to find out the type of fit and from there that allows you to maximise people's success.
So why do you do what you do?
We live in 2016, people need to wake up, learn how to shake the cage with a purpose. I do what I do because I didn’t want people to be mediocre and get to the end of their life and wish they could have done it better. I don’t want people to put in a box of who they should be. Seeing something that isn’t right and realise they can be better than that.
Being good is not enough, you have to be bloody good at what you are doing because there are plenty of people with talent out there doing the same things as you.
People need the opportunity to explore and grow. My passion is about exposing myself to different environments, people, challenges and trying a lot of things.
I got people come to me with a dissolution view point when it comes to up skilling and then they walk away with a much better perspective. I love giving them results and helping them realise this themselves. It is about challenging perception.
Talking about passion, how do you think people can discover their passion?
It is a process that requires you to make pretty crappy decisions sometimes. You won’t know what you don’t like until you make a bad decision. That probably sounds crazy but that is how I got here.
What is your passion?
I know how to take something, smash it into pieces and rebuild a shinier version of it again. I keep letting go but there are lessons that you can explore here. It is really vital to move backward to go forward. People tend to just look at the negatives and ignore the value and opportunity coming out of it. I don’t believe in the world ‘failure’. You either win or you learn, you do not lose.
How should one find their passion?
Finding your passion boils down to three things - What is it that you can make a good living from, what do you believe that allows you to be of most benefit and provide good service to people, and what can you do that generate income for your lifestyle. If you can do all three then you are on your way.
Many people can’t find their passion because they just talk but are not doing anything. Take opportunity in things that make you feel uncomfortable and even doubt yourself to find out whether this is your passion or not. If you are not pushing yourself then you won’t be able to fully develop yourself.
We live in 2016, people need to wake up, learn how to shake the cage with a purpose. I do what I do because I didn’t want people to be mediocre and get to the end of their life and wish they could have done it better.
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, do you suggest people to work on their strengths or weaknesses?
It depends on what you need. I worked absolutely hard to get the juice out of my strength, if I am not good at something then I would hire people to do it if it is vital to my business. I would rather pay capable persons than trying to learn myself where I would probably be broke.
In this digital age, how can one become more personable?
I spent quite a bit of resources to design a nice personable letterhead, it shows the level of care and attention I have towards others and I get a better response out of it. People crave personal connection but they don’t know how to create it.
Would you mind sharing with us the biggest challenge you faced?
After being in the market for over 10 years realising things are no longer viable, I had to rewrite the whole business plan and finding a new opportunity. People advised me to stay but I knew I wouldn’t make the best use of my talent and so I moved on. For a minute I did panic and got anxious but you have to be comfortable with these changes and see where this will take you next.
Do you believe anyone can become an entrepreneur?
Some people might believe they are built for entrepreneurship but in reality they are not. Can you still keep going when your bank account decreases every day? That is a whole different skill set you need to have. The game will always evolving so you need to be the same. Prepare to psychologically cut the emotional attachment part of it and keep going forward.
Take opportunity in things that make you feel uncomfortable and even doubt yourself to find out whether this is your passion or not. If you are not pushing yourself then you won’t be able to fully develop yourself.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Read this article, haha. Don’t give up your day job yet. Work with someone and learn the craft before taking the risk yourself. If you are still studying, get some part time experience to gain your credibility.
Have courage and prepare to take a hit to evolve. Have a vision and a grit. There is a great quote “It wasn’t that I was smarter than others, I just spend more time solving the issue than others”. IQ only plays a very small part of a very big picture. Every time you are in front of someone you make sure you are on point and amaze them at how bloody fantastic you are.
Learn to be creative, look at other industries and get inspiration from them. Don’t just look at your old industry, it is like the blind leading the blind.
Be comfortable with selling, you need to be able to pitch why it is different, why people should invest in it every single day. You have to inspire their confidence in you and make them feel good so they will work with you. If you can’t show genuine enthusiasm and energy it will be very hard to have people come on board and support you.
This might sound obvious but being good is not enough, you have to be bloody good at what you are doing because there are plenty of people with talent out there doing the same things as you.
You need to be physically and mentally fit, and you will require energy like you never imagined about it before.
To find out more about Kiikstart, please visit http://www.kiikstart.com/
Thank you so much for subscribing.
In the meantime, you can check out this month's top 5 popular stories
Get updated to the latest inspirational entrepreneur story by follow our social media