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Meet Ishan Haque, 17 Year-Old Self-Taught Entrepreneur and Investor

“Don’t Sleep To Dream, Work Instead”

Born in South Africa, originate from Bangladesh and raised in Australia. Growing up different, Ishan had a passion to learn different things — well differently.

Instead of being interested in what school was teaching, he was learning to program, design products, build SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and digital marketing skills all through the Internet. During his time in school, Ishan self-started several small online businesses ranging from digital media, freelancing a design & web development firm to building and monetizing online communities through his hobby: video games.

At his core, Ishan is excited by growth — which naturally has led his journey to the world of start-ups. His passion is contributing to the ecosystem, whether it’s the secret start-up he’s currently building and raising money from investors or its using capital generated from his past successful businesses to invest in other start-ups in both public and private markets.

1. Humble Beginnings

Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?

I hated wasting time. When I was 8 years old (2007), every afternoon I would wait for my neighbourhood friends to come back from school to play. I lived close to my school but they didn’t — so I’d end up waiting for an hour or two. When I would sit and wait, I’d always see tired people coming home from work walking their dogs. That’s when a light bulb went off in my head. One day, instead of waiting, I got up and started knocking. I went to each house in my neighbourhood and pitched why they should pay me $5 to walk their dogs for 30 minutes. Surprisingly, this worked!

This was my first exposure to creating a “business” and I never stopped loving it. From that day forward, I started a passion of just creating things around what people needed. Time is what inspired and ignited my self-starter flair early on in life. Never underestimate what you can do in an hour because it has the power to change what you can do in the next hour.

Q: What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?

Relating back to my dog walking business, I wanted to grow this organization. I enjoyed making tens of dollars a day but I wanted to see if in the same time-frame I could optimize the resources around me to strive further. I decided to “hire” my neighbourhood friends to join my venture and work on a commission basis. Now, instead of making $20 walking 4 dogs in 2 hours by myself — I had 4 other kids doing the exact same to other houses in the neighbourhood, and I’d take 20% of what they made in return for training them. We started to expand to different suburbs and at our peak started making up to some $100 dollars a day. Not too shabby for an 8-year-old?

I think my creative strategy to get ahead wasn’t unique at all. It was using resources around me to optimize my time. However, everyone is unique in their leadership. It was certainly unique to be a kid and motivate a bunch of other kids to work instead of play!

2. What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?

I’ve never considered myself talented in anything, I just worked smarter. I always had the mindset to make people underestimate you to only surprise them with your overachievement. In other words, put in the hours silently. Don’t put your hand up, keep your head down and keep working to achieve your goal. Don’t put 60% effort and expect 100% results. If you want more than 100%, use the resources around you. Optimise your strategy to make the most of your time.

3. What is your definition of success?

Success is when you and everyone else involved is happy at the start and the end of the journey. Even what might look like a failure, could be a hidden success. I’ve started hobbies, projects and even start-ups that have failed dramatically but we came out glad it was over and saw our failure as crafting a key to unlock our next success. That’s a hidden success in the making!

I’ve had businesses become relatively successful but my team and I didn’t enjoy running anymore. Although it might have been a paper version of success, we didn’t come out feeling successful. Success is what you define it but happiness is a universal feeling. If you’re happy, you’re successful.

4. What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?

Failing to fail. People don’t want to fail and end up chasing the wrong vision for longer than it’s needed for the wrong reasons. If your vision fails the first time, try it differently or try something different. Don’t box yourself in on one vision, be open to change and adapt to reach a similar vision in the end.

5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?

We all have dreams. Naturally, we dream in our sleep and truthfully, often dream about the things we want in our life we hope to wake up to. That’s why it’s surprising to me that it’s not commonly known sleeping isn’t the only way to dream. I’ve always told myself don’t sleep to dream, work instead.

That’s why it’s important to remind people we’re apart of this unique period as humans where there are no longer barriers to learn what you want and when you want. If you’re reading this right now, you’re using the Internet and must be reminded that not everyone has that luxury. We should be grateful we have access to this extraordinary tool and take advantage of it every second we’re breathing.

You can talk to Ishan Haque on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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