Maira Siddiqui and 3 Creative Entrepreneurs

Sattar Buksh Rizwan Ahmad Malik (Sattar Buksh)

Sattar Buksh (Sat-tar Bux-sch) is a Pakistani restaurant/café and merchandise seller based on indigenous Pakistani art and “the common, wise man on the street who has a strong entitled opinion on every subject.”

  1. Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

Initially, we only joked about starting such a business, but then we realized that our idea was actually viable and so we started planning out our business starting from the personality sketch of our fictional brand ambassador “Sattar Buksh”. We started brainstorming answers to questions such as: SB’s (Sattar Buksh’s) tone of voice over Social Media, his stance on certain social issues, whether we were an outspoken or a safe brand, whether we were political/apolitical. We needed to find our niche. Pakistan is the biggest tea importer of the world and yet all our cafés served only coffee. So, we started discussing that there needed to be a cafe that served a cup of tea without making it seem like it was a poor man’s beverage. We aimed to combine the western culture that Pakistan had adopted with Pakistan’s own tea drinking and truck art painting culture.

  1. Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Absolutely, we would have been lost without our business plan. You need to know what you’re getting into when you’re starting a business. You need to know the market that you’re getting into and whether your business is viable enough to survive in that market. You also need to identify the gaps in your business. This requires having a plan. If you don’t have a business plan then you could possibly have been cooking up a recipe for disaster.

  1. What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

Firstly, plan ahead because you need to have a goal that you’re moving towards and be realistic about your goal(s). Secondly, just because you’re very passionate about your venture, that doesn’t mean that, you can manage to do everything on your own without any help. You’re just one person and what you’re about to do is so much bigger than you. You need a team. So identify the right people, ‘Designate and Delegate.’ Lastly, build a system so even if one person leaves, the business doesn’t start falling apart and so another person can pick up where the former left and start delivering.

Chaiwala Aized Suharwardy (Chaiwala)

Chaiwala (tea maker) is an outdoor Pakistani café paired with truck art, situated in defense phase 8 which is the most Americanized area of Karachi. Chaiwala aims to invoke nationalism in Pakistanis by making tea and truck art main stream again. These two components of pure Pakistani culture are symbols of a Pakistani common man.

  1. Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

No, we really did not have any formal business plan. However we had done a feasibility study and so we knew our rough monthly running cost and the amount of sales we needed to break even for each month. We had a goal for the first three months, which was to at least break even. However we knew what we wanted out of this venture besides revenue, off course. We wanted to reinvent the Pakistani culture of Truck art and Tea, we wanted to rid these two components of culture as a “poor man’s stereotype”.

  1. Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

No, on the contrary, I believe that what’s more important is being committed to your idea and having the belief to carry it forward. Business Plans are fairly overrated since you learn more about the nature and potential of your business after you have actually started it, especially when it comes to startups. Elaborate business plans never tend to be carried out according to plan. I would recommend doing a fairly simple feasibility analysis on the profitability of a business before launching it into the market. A simple cost benefit analysis and market research would do the trick.

  1. What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

I think the keys to success are very simple: Firstly, you must have a clear understanding of what it is that you’re setting out to do, so that you focus on that from the start and do not get derailed. In our case we knew that we wanted to reinvent the culture of tea and truck art so we just needed to find a way to make those two ‘cool’ again. Secondly, you must believe in your idea and this is easier said than done because with most ideas you will have a lot of naysayers putting you down. If you’re a creative entrepreneur then chances are that your idea is novel and out of the box. People wouldn’t be on board with it because they’ve never heard of it before. Third, you must marry your belief with the will to do it and make it a reality. This is where most people fail, they do not have the will to match their belief. Nothing comes without hard work and commitment, you have to work day and night to make your venture successful.

The Happy Alright (THA)  THA (Sterling Gavinski)

The Happy Alright is a Pop Punk band and consists of four SMU students, namely Sterling Gavinski, Brad Bateau, Mason Seeger and Jonathan Ballew. THA does tours, performing around America and concerts on demand.

  1. Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

No, we didn’t, we went in with the mentality of just doing it, to do it. We were just four guys who wanted to form a band and make some Pop Punk music. We did not have a long term goal and definitely not a business plan. We were relying on making it up as we went. We did eventually develop some structure, but it has changed several times over the formation of The Happy Alright.

  1. Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

I definitely think business plans are important as they provide structure and having a detailed plan shows a road map for the business, but I think it’s more important to be organized and to know how to handle your money. If you can do both of these and still be able to create your art without restriction, then you can manage without a business plan. Business plans are never carried out how they’re initially intended to be. Eventually, when we did define the short term and long term goals for THA we ended up changing them multiple times.

  1. What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

One, just do it. Nike’s slogan “just do it” is legendary for a reason. If you don’t take any steps towards realizing your idea, then your idea will remain just an idea. It will not turn into a business venture on its own, let alone a successful business venture. Start to realize your idea is as easy as a phone call, a Facebook post, or just a conversation. Two, practice. Practice at least an hour a day. In our case, people pay to listen to the quality of music that we promised them. If we don’t practice, then we can’t deliver and that’s how we lose fans. Three, work hard. Hard work always pays off in the end. If you don’t work hard then you can’t deliver as you’d promised and that’s bad for business. Fans and investors are not going to be interested in investing time, money or energy in you if you can’t deliver as promised.

Combined analysis of all 3 interviews, by Maira Siddiqui 

I could draw a few parallels between Sattar Buksh’s interview and our course book “Business Model You”. Sattar Bush unknowingly used a few of the building blocks of “The Business model Canvas”. For instance, they emphasized on their team finding the right people for the right jobs as you can’t do everything yourself, which is essentially the building block “key partners” from The Business model canvas”.

Sattar Buksh and Chaiwala both defined their persona which was the westernized population of Pakistan. Defining a persona gave them a direction to go in. We covered the concept of a defining a persona in our course book Disciplined Entrepreneurship and so it’s interesting to find that the principles of establishing a business are pretty much the same in America and Pakistan despite their cultural differences.

The Happy Alright also mentioned some principals that sound similar to Disciplined Entrepreneurship, such as analysis paralysis. In their three pieces of advice question they emphasized on how we need to not over think things and just do them because otherwise our idea will remain just an idea.

I interviewed two socially conscious cafés with the same clientele and idea, yet their approach to their business was very different. Sattar Buksh was very organized, a firm believer of a business plan and defined goals. While Chaiwala was rather haphazard, they stated that they launched just after doing a feasibility analysis. Present day, both of these cafés are very popular and successful so that means that you don’t necessarily have to have a very elaborate business plan in order for your business to succeed. One should choose whichever method suits their team better; business plan or no business plan. My interviewees provided me with an array of the levels of organization to launch a business. Sattar Buksh, having taken a very methodical, well thought out approach before launching, Chaiwala just having done a feasibility analysis and THA just jumped into their venture with the “just do it” attitude. Still, all of them are successful. This shows that there is no fixed or text book magic formula, but that it is tailored according to every venture’s: preferences and the skills of their team.

Even though only Sattar Buksh mentioned the importance of a team, in the other two interviews a sense of a team could be felt. Chaiwala referred to themselves as “we”, whereas THA is a band of four boys which is their team. So all three interviews highlighted the importance of a team.

Lastly, the theme of hard work and persistence could be seen in all three of the interviews. Sattar Buksh stressed in their planning phase and how they sat down to ponder on every little detail about their fictional brand ambassador. Chaiwala offered advice such as marrying your belief and having the will to do whatever it takes to make your idea into an actual business. THA very directly stated that hard work pays off. They all highlighted that in order to make it happen, you need to do it.

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