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Lessons in history for a better future
[July 13, 2014]

Lessons in history for a better future

(Express Tribune (Pakistan) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) As Pakistan heads towards an uncertain future, its economy urgently needs the benefits of entrepreneurship to take root and help add a few points to Pakistan's extremely poor GDP growth.

ut how can we double the GDP growth rate? Where will this growth come from? Future of the country's growth will not depend on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or the entry/expansion of large multinational companies. In fact, it will depend on the disproportional growth in Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).

This will come from scores of Mom and Pop stores (like 7-Eleven), from the youth starting their own fast food chains (OP2P), from smart young software engineers starting their own software houses that would develop applications for smartphones and several other similar ventures. Remember 95% of jobs created in the US are by small business owners.

Three great entrepreneurs of our time Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson have left some great insights for future entrepreneurs globally.

Improvise, not just Innovate IBM approached Gates, founder of Microsoft, in 1980 to make an operating system for their upcoming personal computer. Gates lacked the innovative ability to write it from scratch, so he looked around and bought the rights to QDOS for $75,000 and modified it in-house into what he later called MS-DOS. This is what he licenced to IBM as PC-DOS and proceeded to make a huge fortune, making Microsoft a part of history.

The key lesson here is that coming up with an original innovation is not the only way to proceed. From the huge amount of knowledge existing today and building on existing ideas or inventions and improving them, one can create real sustainable value. Today, after 34 years, no one remembers that Bill Gates did not write MS-DOS, but what everyone does remember is how he grabbed an opportunity and created value for his company.

Use failures as opportunities Jobs, founder of Apple, is one of the greatest innovators and entrepreneurs of our time. Last year, Apple's market capitalisation was more than double of Pakistan's nominal GDP in $ terms. Job's success has two salient features.

There is a need to continue making that effort despite failures. If you don't try, you will not fail but if you don't try, you will not succeed either. Second point is to learn from your failures. Failures are part of life. Every successful businessman has failed in the past but succeeded only when they learnt from their mistakes and persevered and continued their efforts.

When the Apple board fired Jobs in 1985, 30 years after he had created this billion-dollar company, how do you think he reacted? He positioned getting fired as the best thing that happened to him. He suddenly felt less burdened and entered the most creative period of his life.

Interestingly, when he died 70% of his personal wealth $8 billion came from a venture he started after leaving Apple Pixar, an animation movie studio, where he created blockbusters including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Cars, Ratatouille and many more.

Attention to detail A quote attributed to Branson, well known as a true global entrepreneur who has started over 400 companies. One key insight he emphasises is to focus on details not letting any feedback or comment fall through the crack. He always carried a notebook to jot down a comment by a fellow worker, a customer or business partner. As someone very aptly said that the secret of success is 80% planning and 20% implementation.

Gates began his career by improving upon existing ideas. Jobs took an adversity and turned it into an opportunity. Branson emphasised focus on details and not let anything fall through the crack.

All of these icons in their own rights are role-models for young entrepreneurs. There is a need to learn from these gurus.

THE WRITER is associated with the CORPORATE SECTOR AND IS ACTIVE ON VARIOUS BUSINESS FORUMS AND TRADE BODIES Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2014.

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