Theoretically speaking, innovation is a by-product of creativity and trading is a by-product of hunger Sunny Ali CEO Extreme Commerce

This contentious article anticipates my personal observation and experience of more than two decades. It may sound assertive in tone but carries out some objective aims of departure for those young Pakistanis who are interested to learn a thing or two about business and explore beyond boundaries while learning to fly high. At the outset, let me ask a simple question: Do you want to earn money and become rich? Probably a majority of us would say, YES. So the next question may be: How can you earn money?

Before a flight takes off, the pilot has to keep a track of the flight essentials and run down through a checklist; likewise, if your career is about to take off you’ll have a certain to-do list to work on as well so that you can fly safely. Being explored and understood requires a set of demands and some serious efforts before you decide to take any practical step towards your unending journey of accumulation of wealth.

Theoretically speaking, innovation is a by-product of creativity and trading is a by-product of hunger. Does it sound odd? Perhaps, yes. Some of you may not want to agree with me but that’s how the world functions. However, my challenges have taught me big lessons where I’ve faced failures and loss of hope in my professional life as well. To be precise, you cannot be creative and innovative when you are with an empty stomach.

Hunger does not make you creative. Because when you are struggling for basic necessities of life; you do not think beyond a certain level but just to fulfill what’s required. In other words, an empty belly cages you and trains your mind and your body to stay within the boundaries of your limited resources and make the ends meet to put some food on the table and afford a shelter to sleep at night. 

I vividly remember myself as an 18-year-old when I used to carry heavy cans of fresh water on a daily basis; the pump was a couple of kilometers away from our residence. Honestly, I do not come from a privileged class. I come from a class where I and my parents struggled for a long time to ensure the provisions of the basic life facilities. Those moments of less food and more depression still continue to be a part of my childhood/adulthood memories.

I still remember those days when all my worry was to arrange food, water and electricity for the family. Hence why, I believe innovation usually and mostly works for the privileged rich kids or for kids in the ecosystem. An ecosystem that is designed for innovation with adequately available funds, mentors and a lot of time in hand to come up with something creative.

Maybe I could have made Amazon.com when I was 18 years old. Just maybe, maybe if I had that environment, access to funds, mentors, “bhara howa pate”, then it might have been possible. However, God knows better. But the point I want to make here is that the chances of a rich kid coming up with something innovative is higher than his/her counterpart coming out of a slum (kachi basti).

As a matter of fact, poor and hungry kids have higher chances to perform well in trading. Because trading generates quick cash vs. innovation which works well for well-fed stomachs, and requires a well-designed eco-system to fund their time and energy and to mentor them. Whereas trading is quick, easy and accessible.

Give a bunch of cupcakes, flowers, pen, food, snacks to a poor kid (of course 18+) and ask him to go around and sell them, he will come back with money. Trading does work if you ask him to walk around and sell things without any shop, electricity bill and employees overhead. At least he will learn how it works. If he is smart, he will find his ways to grow it up to the next level.

Now, just for the sake of experimentation, ask the same kid to innovate something. Does he have that high IQ, money, mentorship and time to excel? Also a fully funded, loaded with money ecosystem willing to invest on his ideas and take a chance of 1-2% success? What are the chances of this poor kid to innovate something when he is hungry? So what is the percentage of rich kids vs. poor kids? Or what is the percentage of a well-funded innovative eco-system vs. ordinary business skills training centers in Pakistan? Where exactly are we standing right now?

Think logically considering the 200+ Million population of this country and one of the world’s poorest economic conditions or, to be more accurate, a failing economy. Where exactly do we have a higher chance of succeeding? Innovation which demands some hard-earned socio-economic prerequisites or trading skills which effectively work for the young entrepreneurs? We rather teach these kids how to sell on streets; how to sell wholesale; how to sell through Alibaba; how to sell on Amazon and eBay; how to sell on websites. We equip them with the knowledge and let them do the rest. This is both a way to make them capable of earning money and empowering them to run their households feasibly.

Let me admit one thing very openly. I don’t say or claim to assure that they will all succeed. All I say is they have a higher chance to succeed with average intellect, average budget, average education and an average business plan. The chances to succeed with basic trading skills would be higher than trying to innovate something. How many kids in Pakistan end up innovating something and raise funding through a well-funded eco system? Probably 0.05% or 1%. It’s a rough idea to build an understanding of the following points.

What would be the percentage of successful traders coming out if we start equipping them with basic trading skills and knowledge? Look at the World’s Billionaires and look at the Billionaires in Pakistan. Where did the majority come from? Trading or Innovation? And let’s focus more on the Billionaires who came out of poverty. According to the statistics the majority of World’s billionaires became richer through trading.

In my opinion, Innovation works well in developed countries and in rich entrepreneurs. Please understand that I’ve never been against Innovation. Innovation is and will always be the backbone of the economy. My point that I’m trying to prove here is to highlight the average population, average intellect, average people, average budget, and average kids.

I am sure one day Pakistan will be ready to become the World’s leading Innovative hub. But are we ready for innovation right away? Or we are better off putting more energy and focus on equipping our young entrepreneurs with basic trading skills be it offline or online? Well, the choice is ours.

 

Good luck!

Sunny Ali, CEO Extreme Commerce