Sabirul Islam is an award winning young entrepreneur, author and global speaker. His vision is “to empower youth around the world and change their lives, so they can see success as a way forward”.
What spurred you to start your first business?
I grew up in London, in a community that has been overshadowed by negative energy and people who love living in a bubble. The more I see these people, the more I asked myself if they are the kind of people I’d love to be like in 10 or 15 years’ time. And for me the answer is NO!
I found out very early that If I must come out of this negative bubble, inspiration is key! For anyone to succeed in the 21stcentury you have to be inspired by someone in order to staircase yourself to success.
I’ve always seen my cousin as an inspiration. He set up his own business at age 14 breaking a stereotype that you have to be 40 to run a business! A year older he is, and he set up his own business at the age of 14. I was 13 year old at the time. He taught me the true meaning behind why age is just a number.
I worked for my cousin for a period of 2 weeks, sadly I got fired! One thing most young people lack is the ability to take advantage of opportunity once it’s presented to them! And that’s the mistake I made! But when you face a set-up, it’s about proving yourself that you are more than what others perceive you to be!
So when I turned 14, I set up my first business, a web design business employing 6 of my friends. The company ran for 2 years, and was incredibly successful!
Many young people think success is all about money. Some even think to start a business; you need an insane amount of startup capital! I set up my first business at age 14 and it did not cost me a penny! All it cost me was six friends and time! Believe in the power of people and the asset in which they are! It’s using their knowledge and resources that you are able to ultimately achieve great things!
And from then on, my journey into the business world kept expanding! All because I wanted to prove my cousin wrong for firing me!
You self-published your first book at 17. How did you do it?
It’s very simple! I designed the front cover on my computer, laid out my book interior on word, and uploaded the files onto a self-print company site, and that’s about it!
I had earlier been rejected by 40 publishers, so I had to do all the editing and interior designs myself. In 9 months, we sold 42,500 copies of the book, which was an incredible achievement.
You are a global motivational speaker who has spoken at over 600 events worldwide. What’s your inspiration?
The passion and desire I have to change lives brings insane amounts of joy and reward. There are days I wake up and realise that someone has dropped me a text message, a Facebook message or even come knocking on my door to shake my hand and say words like “Sabirul…You have changed my life.” That for me is priceless! No amount of fame, money or success can ever buy the feel or emotion I get inside.
I love speaking, sharing my thoughts and ideas and helping others accomplish their goals. It’s just who I am! Many people feel that when you reach a certain height in life, you become arrogant, selfish and only think about yourself. Well that’s not who I am!
I believe in the value of people because without the help of people around me, I would not be where I am today!
Tell us about your new book, Young Entrepreneur World.
Young Entrepreneur World is all about Generation Y! It’s about some of the world’s most influential young people sharing their thoughts and ideologies on a personal, business and political level. The book challenges today’s world leaders to be the change that needs to take place, by ensuring the youth of today are not a lost generation.
It finally gives youth a voice to express themselves on a grand scale without fear, but optimism and hope.
The book contains empowering interviews, personal success stories and how others could achieve similar success within their respective fields.
Tell us about the Inspire1million Campaign and what you hope to achieve with it.
The Inspire1Million campaign is an initiative I set up to inspire, engage and transform the live of 1million people in 20 countries around the world. I set up the campaign in 2011, and the first country I visited was Maldives. So far, I have visited16 countries and reached out to over 800,000 young people with a million set to be reached in September 2012.
I always believe in the value of leaving a legacy. As for me, I want to be remembered for having inspired people worldwide, and I believe my Inspire1Million campaign is the first step to achieve this.
How did you come up with the idea of your educational board game, Teen-Trepreneur?
I wanted to create something that’s fun, proactive and teaches business. And gaming was the first thing that popped up! So I spent 10 months developing a board game that teaches key aspects of business from sales, to investment, expenses to loans and the even understanding the stock exchange.
The game has multi-purpose and has been used as part of the business studies curriculum in the UK, and is now selling in 14 countries worldwide.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?
Freedom! The choices and decisions I make are purely my own! The amount of work I put in is up to me! No one dictates where I go or what I do! That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship.
And the fact that there are endless opportunities really excites me!
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt so far as an entrepreneur?
That mistakes and failure are the best things that can ever happen to me! Yes, I may feel really low at some point. But having that bit of belief that things will turn around and good news is just round the corner always put a smile on my face.
Self-belief is everything!
What motivates you to do what you do every day?
The joy of making something happen, and inspiring others is what keeps me going.
Did your early life experiences help contribute to your success
today? If yes, how?
Definitely! I grew up in tough times, facing difficult personal issues. Both within family and within my community! But I embraced that and used it to my advantage after realising how much of a benefit a negative factor truly is!
But that takes strength and a positive mind-set. How you control your mind is important! It may tell you that you haven’t got what it takes…but it’s important to prove that you are capable! Nobody has the right to hinder you from achieving your dreams! It’s about taking the world by storm!
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right
product, or the right team?
The right team! With the right team, you can create the right product and take it to the right market! People is power…and that is something which many forget!
Final word and advice for young entrepreneurs.
To get started in business, you don’t need lots of money or even an insane idea! You just need to have a strong network of people around you! Network Marketing is the key to success! Those who are positive and love making things happen can break barriers! If you hang around these people, you’ll only look forward and upward!
There is nobody in this world that does not have something unique to offer…It’s your responsibility to discover what it is and share it with the world. By doing that, you’ll realise you have what the world wants! And when the world wants something, it comes chasing after it at all costs!!!
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