Photo Source: Jeanny
By PREMA JAYABALAN
Sahar Hashemi was a lawyer at the initial stages of her career journey before deciding to start her own business. Today, she is a successful entrepreneur, a sought-after speaker on innovation and entrepreneurship as well as a bestselling author.
“I believe that we are all entrepreneurs,” she says. “My transition from a lawyer to a businesswoman took place when I tried to turn my idea into a reality.”
“The process of taking our ideas and working towards making it happen is what turns us into entrepreneurs,” shares Hashemi, best known as the co-founder of Coffee Republic, UK’s first coffee bar chain which she started with her brother.
Hashemi is also the founder of Skinny Candy, a confectionery that produces low-fat sweets and chocolates. In 2011, Director magazine nominated her dynamic as one of the Top 10 original thinkers in 2011.
Her book, Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from our Kitchen Table, is the second-highest selling book on entrepreneurship in the UK and has been translated into six languages.
Hashemi is part of the secretary of state’s entrepreneurs forum, where she advises the government on policies involving enterprises.
She is also on the business support consumer panel where her expertise is extended to advising the department of business, innovation and skills on business support.
“Starting a business is not easy, you will face many challenges along the way. It is not easy turning that one small idea of yours into a revenue churning reality.
“You basically have to start from scratch when it comes to looking for money, getting suppliers and putting your business together.
“You have to be innovative and you face resistance from many people who are not aware or sure of what you are attempting to do. But the aim is to keep moving without letting all these elements influence your ambition.”
Hashemi still remembers when her brother and she opened their first coffee bar. No one came in for the first few days. It was a new coffee place amidst many famous ones, and no one wanted to give it a shot.
“It took perseverance, hard work and a never-give-up attitude to flourish the business. We came up with innovative methods to sell our products and eventually it picked up. It did very, very well till the day we sold the business off,” she reminisces.
According to Hashemi, there is no such thing as overnight success. It all boils down to hard work, persistence and a hunger to succeed.
“To all the young, aspiring entrepreneurs out there, if you have an idea, the first thing you do is your homework. Do your research and get to know your business well. Once you have all the information that you need, put your head up and just go ahead and do it.”
People may try to intervene and influence you, but you have to believe in yourself in order to make it a reality, she explains.
“Remember, you are the master of your own destiny and nobody can say otherwise,” Hashemi advises.
Sahar Hashemi will be in Kuala Lumpur on April 3. She will be speaking at The Business of Innovation forum organised by The London Speaker Bureau. For more information, visit www.bizofinnovation.com.my or call 03-2301098. Click here for more articles.