Binish Qureshi was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and her family moved to England when she was just three years old. Qureshi grew up in the suburbs just outside of London and attended private school. After a successful academic career, Binish earned her LLB Law degree from Middlesex University.
After spending six months at a reputable law firm, Qureshi realized this wasn’t the career for her. She then took an extended holiday in Pakistan, where she met her husband. After they married, Qureshi had her first child and left the corporate world to spend time with her son. After she had a second child, and they were both in full-day care and education, Qureshi began working on starting her own company real estate company, FJ Corporation Ltd.
Binish Qureshi loves to travel. She has been fortunate enough to visit nearly half the world, from the remote wilderness of the Masai Mara to the bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur, to the serene mountains of Bali. This dedicated mother of four also enjoys scuba diving, skydiving, reading, cooking, and collecting Persian and Pakistani arts. She has a collection of rare silk Persian rugs.
In the span of seven years, FJ Corporation has grown to a net worth of £27 million. Qureshi has also recently begun focusing on starting her own fashion brand.
1. Why did you decide to create your own business?
I needed to do something. I have a creative mind, and I couldn’t be stuck at the house and not doing anything. I decided something needs to be done, and I need to make money. I wanted to be an entrepreneur – I didn’t want to be a domesticated housewife. There was immense energy in my mind, and I needed somewhere to direct it. I’m the kind of person who likes to keep moving. I like to keep experimenting, so sitting idle wouldn’t work for me. I think that’s why I decided I wanted to start my own business, be my own boss.
2. What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I think the fact that it’s free will. I’m not working for somebody, I’m not following anybody’s instructions. I’m the creator of my own choice. I’m responsible for my successes, and I’m responsible for my failures as well. I like taking that responsibility in both ways.
3. What keeps you motivated?
My children. They keep me motivated. My children’s success, other people’s success, and my own business success, all of those are part of my motivation.
4. How has FJ Corporation Ltd. grown from its early days to now?
It’s grown tremendously. FJ Corporation is now a £27 million net worth company. It started with very humble beginnings. I had just one commercial asset. Now, FJ Corporation funds many meaningful projects, including charity-based projects.
5. Where do you get your inspiration from?
There was this one incident when I was in Chicago. I had just come out of a seminar and this little boy, no more than five, came up to me and asked me for $100. He told me he wanted to buy a fish tank, and he wanted to make the fish have babies and then sell those fish. He was only four or five, and I just fell in love with that idea because he was such an entrepreneur even at that age. It’s kids like him. It’s the poorest kid on the street; they are truly inspirational, especially if they have these little minds and brains, and they’re really good entrepreneurs. I think that is my inspiration. If they can do it, anybody can do it.
6. How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?
Discipline. I think that’s the most important thing. Being disciplined, being punctual and having priority. You have to be very disciplined where I am in my life. Kids have proportionate time. Kids need to set a proportion of your time, and your business needs a proportion of your time. I think being disciplined about that is most important. There’s no time, and there’s no place for lazy people in the sort of work that I do, or in fact in any business. If an entrepreneur is lazy, they can’t strike that balance in their life, and I don’t think they’d like to be successful.
So, it’s a balance where I have solid core hours of work, but I switch off when I have to. I would call my personal trainer. I do yoga twice a week, I do PT three times a week, and I take a holiday six times a year. I think that’s the work-life balance. You have to have a balance where you’re working hard, but you’re playing hard also. I think that’s essential for somebody who’s got such a monotonous routine with children.
7. What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome professionally?
I think the hardest thing was learning everything that is involved in my business. Many people just indent and outsource, for example, whether it’s a bookkeeper or an accountant. I think the most laborious task for me has been fighting with myself because I like to know all the expertise rather than have somebody else do it. I now know how to do bookkeeping. I know how to operate QuickBooks. I know how to make accountancy formats. I think if you ask me about facilities management, I could tell you exactly what there is to know.
So I think the most difficult and challenging part of this role is that you’re learning all of the different roles yourself. Essentially, you are multifaceted. You’re an accountant, a bookkeeper, an entrepreneur, a speaker. It’s not good enough for me for somebody to give me a sheet and tell me it’s done and we need X amount of money for this investment. I need to know how everything is done.
8. What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
“Don’t run before you know how to walk.” I think that is what I implement every day in my life. I never jump into something if I don’t have a clue about it. It’s going back to the basics. Like I mentioned already, I like to learn everything before I actually venture out to do it. I would study fast, and then I would put my foot in it. I make sure I learn how to walk before I run.
9. What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Without a doubt, I feel that I’m very accomplished as a parent, having four children who are exceptionally well brought up. I’m not saying this because they’re my children, but I think the essence is in the combination and work instilled in our children from a very young age. It’s making them terrific human beings in heart and mind. They have the principles of being just, correct, and honest, and if I can instill this in them and see this reciprocated in their everyday life, I think that is my biggest achievement.
10. Where do you see you and FJ Corporation Ltd. in 5 years?
I hope that FJ Corporation reaches heights where it’s sufficiently financially established. The reason I say this is the corporation needs to be more financially established to be able to fund projects independently without anybody else’s help. I hope to fund several projects that are close to my heart, a lot of charitable work. I’ve been to rural areas. I’m not referring to well-known charities, like Helping Hands and Children in Need, because they’ve got lots of people looking out for them and funding. I want to be able to help the lesser known charities. My travels have taken me nearly all over the world. I think FJ corporation wants to eventually establish an ongoing charity where we’re giving tools to these children and these people without help from anybody else.
So, I hope that if FJ Corporation continues for the next 15 or 20 years as it has over the last seven, it will be able to allocate enough to financially look after itself, sustain its expenses, and then just reach out. Reaching out and making it very financially stable because I want to be able to work for projects that are very close to my heart.