Today I want to share with you things I wish a Muslim entrepreneur had shared with me back in 2018 when I was starting my side hustle as a doctor.
BTW I started writing this newsletter only to realize I had written nearly 3K words so I split it into two parts. I’ll share part 2 of this newsletter tomorrow.
Finding the Courage to (really) Commit to Your Online Business
Most of us toiling with the idea of starting a side hustle to eventually quit the 9-5 are too scared in the beginning. And our fears can keep us stuck for far too long. (I was in decision paralysis for nearly 2 years!)
Today, I want to give you an Aimen Pep Talk that I gave myself back then. Hopefully, it will help overcome some of your big mindset blocks and fears around quitting 9-5, leaving the path of a well-set career, and encourage you to get started on your business on the side.
I think the biggest fear is probably, “What if I fail?
“What if I can’t make this online business thing work? What if I don’t have what it takes?”
And then there are other fears like “What if I’m not good enough at helping others?”
“What if I can’t stay consistent in it?”
“What if I get too overwhelmed, burnout and my family relationships start to suffer?”
So many fears. No wonder it can get crippling.
Now let’s take a look at the other side. Where things work out as you hoped or even better.
Before we do, I *solemnly say* to not exaggerate and paint a false dream. Deal?
So on the pretty side of things is freedom from 9-5.
In my experience, just that one thing – freedom from 9-5 – is WORTH everything.
Because that means I get to design my life in the way I want bi-iznillah.
For me, the bare minimum of what I wanted was not waking up at 7 am to have a rushed breakfast, wearing my scrubs, and rushing out the door to the hospital 5 days a week like clockwork.
It meant not coming home at 5 pm on 9-5 days and at 8 am on night shifts… feeling exhausted, with crumbs of energy left to give to my family and myself.
To wake up when I wanted to – whether it meant waking up at 4 am for Tahajjud and staying awake, or at 5 am for fajr and then going back to sleep until 10 am.
To not beg my boss for a vacation if I had a family event to attend or wanted to travel.
To create a daily to-do list that would provide structure to my days in a way I designed it – not our senior registrar.
It also meant not spending all my spare time studying medicine to become the best doctor I could be and instead, reading ALL kinds of books I wanted to read.
That was the maximum I dreamt of. Lol
Alhamdulilah, quitting my career as a doctor allowed me to achieve that freedom in 2 years.
It wasn’t easy. I come from a family of doctors, so allowing myself to go all in to see how good I could get was very very difficult.
The one question that helped me understand what I truly wanted to do was “If I don’t get paid for the rest of my life doing this thing, would I continue to do this?” The answer was pretty clear to me. Medicine wasn’t it for me.
For me, writing, speaking, teaching, and learning about life are the only constants I’ve always craved and would do even if I don’t get paid for it. And an online coaching business covers all that while allowing me to earn as well.
Looking back, of course, I had some good times being a doctor, but even the best days as a doctor don’t come close to the level of joy and fulfillment I get from creating content, designing programs, offering services, and talking to other like-minded Muslims every day, etc.
That’s because I feel like I get an opportunity to grow each day as a Muslim with the new set of challenges I face as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship teaches the uncertainty, harshness, abundance, and joy of life, all at the same time and in a way a 9-5 simply can’t.
It gives you the control to design your life the way you want.
It forces you to become a better version of yourself and be strong enough to receive more growth –
– when you have to make decisions that nobody else can make for you.
– when you have to put yourself out there in front of others and do business with other people, you are forced internally to strengthen your character.
– you have to look in the mirror and ask questions about yourself, your intentions, and your efforts candidly.
– you have to do Juhd, struggle hard, consistently without immediate gratification.
– you have to commit to getting better at business each day which in turn compels you to put at least a vaguely similar amount of effort to getting better at Deen.
– and if your work helps other people become better in Deen, you must strive to raise the bar for practicing ethics and excellence even more.
– whether you exclusively serve the Muslim community or not, whether your product helps Muslims improve their Deen or not, you represent Deen to your audience simply by way of being and doing.
It’s exciting to have the opportunity today to be compelled to become a better Muslim, a better business owner, and a higher earner – all at the same time.
In short – entrepreneurship helps you live life to your full potential.
Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as Muslims anyway? Brilliant Muslims are hiding away their potential because of fears. They’re scared. While the non-Muslims are leading the world with their enterprises, policies, and media.
All entrepreneurs I know swear by the truth that entrepreneurship is so much more about self-development and mindset than it is about business tactics. It’s true.
- Most people who stay stuck are not because they don’t work hard enough. They usually work harder. Professionals have been trained to work and study hard all their lives.
- But in entrepreneurship, when they’re challenged with “uncertainty”, they quit trying, give up consistency, procrastinate, and stay stuck. So hard work alone can’t be what differentiates then?
- Is it having more brains? That can’t be true. Some of the smartest people in the world with so much potential never discover their potential, are crippled with fear, and never do anything to achieve their deepest dreams! And a lot of dumb people are very successful in business (you may even know some of them;))
- It’s not that they don’t “learn more”, read more, watch enough videos, or buy enough courses. More content without action is NOT the answer!
I’ve learned that, yes, strategy is quite important. But mindset activates strategy.
One of the biggest mental blocks that stop people from even STARTING is…
“What if I’m not good enough?”
The simple answer (but not easy to do) is to GET BETTER.
But what does that even mean? How do you get better?
First, you decide what you want to get better at.
Before you figure out your business offer, you must figure out what sort of business you want to start that will match your balance of Deen and Dunya lifestyle.
Here are the steps I followed religiously to start and I’d recommend you do the same:
1. Figure out what sort of lifestyle you want as a Muslim entrepreneur.
For example; all the things you don’t want to do in your days and the way you want to spend your time & money.
2. Pick a business model that can lead you to having that lifestyle.
For example; I didn’t see myself living the “influencer lifestyle” where I’d be displaying my entire life on a plate and serving it to social media.
Another business model I didn’t want was to sell $10 small products, I’d rather give that kind of content away for free.
I wanted to go deeper with an audience like me so I chose courses, coaching, and a 1-1 service business model that allows me to do that.
3. Commit to working on it fully.
Not one foot in and one foot out the door. Online business demands full commitment, otherwise, you’re not giving yourself a proper chance to see how good you can be.
You’ll never be as good as you can be until you fully commit, that’s just logic. And to succeed in business will require you to get better.
Mind you – full commitment does not mean quitting your 9-5 prematurely. It also doesn’t mean packing your bags and going to live like an Eskimo with a laptop in an Igloo with strong internet. (jokes)
It means being mentally committed to working on your online business goals until you’re successful >
- This can look like working on the side of your 9-5 until you’ve started to monetize from your business. Or until you have at least replaced your income.
- Commitment can also look like sacrificing your me-time to work on your business.
- It can also mean avoiding unnecessary socializing to work quietly on your business.
- It can also mean answering emails or taking courses during your work break and learning in your downtime.
- It can mean living on as little as you can, so you can put your savings towards courses and coaching to avoid mistakes that cost you learning time.
- It can also mean giving 2 hours after your 9-5 and spending your weekends working on your business.
- It can also mean taking a temporary year-long break from your 9-5.
I’ve done all of that. And I’d do it again.
That’s what commitment can look like to succeed. Doing what it takes. Not doing what you “can” do, what you “want” to do, or doing “your best”. Doing what it takes.
But if “doing what it takes” means implementing tactics that don’t align with Islam, then finding a way to NOT do that. If you intend for it, Allah SWT helps in finding the way. That’s His promise.
“…And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allāh – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allāh will accomplish His purpose. Allāh has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” [Quran]
So for a Muslim entrepreneur, it’s doing what it takes WITHOUT compromising your Islamic values.
For how long?
Until you can sustain yourself to quit 9-5.
Because that’s when you’ll be in the position to stop hustling hard, enjoy the process more, have more free time, and work more on your terms.
How long does that take?
However long it takes for YOU.
4. After commitment, consistency is the only thing that will help you reach success.
Once you’ve made your decision, you have to make it again every day. Once you’ve committed, you have to stay committed.
Coming up tomorrow
If you’re thinking…
“How long before I can quit my 9-5?
And what about the money anxiety?…
…How much do I need to save before quitting 9-5 to work on my business full-time?
How do I define financial success for myself? When is enough enough?”
I can understand it’s hard to commit to something without knowing the answers to those questions.
In part 2 of this newsletter coming up tomorrow, I will answer those questions for you based on my experience. It will be a shortie compared to today’s newsletter, I promise.
Your next step
If you are someone who values freedom and wants to serve the Ummah with your potential, I wish today’s newsletter gave you the courage to start.Just start. Have Tawakkul in Allah SWT, He SWT will help you for sure.