Can we make it global? How big is that? Can we become that big? These are some of the questions everyone ponders about when they are asked to consider the potential of the IT market outside of Pakistan. 15 years on â€“ and in Pakistan we still donâ€™t have our own Infosys, Wipro or Tata? Why is that? I had the good fortune to exchange emails with a couple of people internationally who have probed this a lot. I exchanged a lot of emails back and forth discussing this subject and as everyone would have his or her own perspective to this question â€“ I will try to present in this article, my perspective.
I have essentially hammered this down to seven essential points that need looking at.
Firstly, in order to be big, you must not only be able To think big, but also must be able to execute big. Anyone can dream of having a 1,000 people company, yet very few are actually able to do so. Drawing schematics or blue-prints of a big idea is easy, but actually transforming that idea into reality requires an acute sense of being pragmatic, ability to assemble the team and to put into places the right people and finances. A majority of the IT CEOs in Pakistan with whom Iâ€™ve had a talk with claim that they have macro ideas, but find it so ever hard in trying to transform the idea into reality due to various reasons, primarily one being, (a) they are not able to let go (if required) of themselves and replace themselves with a more better â€“ result â€“oriented person and (b) they end up getting more concerned about everyday running of their businesses. So to think big one must have the capability to execute big.
My second point worth looking into is Vision. A visionary person is the epic-core of any company that is going to make it global. Whilst everyone claims to be visionary, very few actually are. Being visionary is more than just day-dreaming â€“ its like having super-human qualities of being able to look beyond the horizon, to be able to piece things together before they happen, to know how and where things will take shape in the not-so-distant future and to have the positive willpower to see yourself putting it all together. To be right before anyone else and be prepared to take advantage of that opportunity.
My third point is Short-Term vs. Long-Term. We may have the vision â€“ but its usually short-term or near-term. We do not proactively assemble a long-term vision and strategy documents. We feel such things are best in classrooms and for multinationals. Like the Chinese saying goesâ€¦ â€œa journey of a thousand miles begins with the first-stepâ€. We disown the very first step required for long-term success â€“ vision. Weâ€™ve become very obtuse and myopic in this sense. Companies take years to be made. That is a lesson we learn time and time again (especially after the dot-com bubble had burst). The wise saying of â€œsowing the seeds of tomorrowâ€ needs to be instilled upon us.
My fourth point is to be Ahead of Time â€“ Think Tomorrow â€“ Today! Being ahead of time does not necessarily mean to pick-up trends etc. from TIME magazine or Wired Magazine or learning about some technology you may have seen on BBC Worldâ€™s ClickOnline. Chances are if the technology or idea has made it in mainstream media â€“ its not tomorrow opportunity â€“ its todayâ€™s stale news! To be able to extract and implement a good idea and bet on it, requires an alert mindset, a company receptive to change and the ability to do a bit of R&D to complete the missing pieces of the puzzle so when tomorrow comes, you are ready and servingâ€¦ not learning.
My fifth point is Negotiation. In order to make it big, you would need to hone in your negotiation skills. If you donâ€™t have the ability to negotiate, be it investors, customers, vendors, partners, government, etc. you will not make it far. Negotiation eventually comes down to getting more of what you want and giving very little away. In this compromise you gain more than you wish to lose.
My sixth point is Finances. If you donâ€™t understand finances and how it affect your bottom line you will be out of business. Being able to understand what each and every penny earned and spent means for your company is no easy feat. People whoâ€™ve learned to master this feat have been able to muster up what ever they have and make it multiple many times over.
My last point is Opportunity! For any company to success it must be able to seize the opportunity. For most, opportunity passes by them without ever realizing the good fortune they could have had. A old fable is once Alexander the Great went into a sculptorâ€™s shop and saw an angel with wings but without a head. He asked what this statue was and the sculptor replied â€œI call it Opportunityâ€. â€œWhy does it have no head?â€ asked Alexander â€œBecause opportunity cannot see you and only you can see itâ€, â€œWhy the wings?â€ asked the great King again â€œBecause opportunity waits for no one â€“ it flies away!â€ replied the sculptor.
I hope there are entrepreneurs in Pakistan who have all these qualities and more, who are relentlessly pursuing their vision of being global one day and make a name for themselves. Lets hope we long enough to see this come true.
This Article was originally written for Money Magazine