#WIB – Q&A With Mushfiqoh Samodien Part Owner Of Aspire Solutions

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1.Can you please tell us more about your business?

A. Aspire Solutions is a custom development software house focused on servicing bespoke requirements, which fulfil operational enablement. We specialise within system integration and end to end business solutions.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

A. My journey started a decade ago whilst being torn between the comfort of corporate and its restrictions when restructures occur. I saw myself at a crossroads of loyalty and wanting more. I took the leap by starting a consultancy to prove to myself that living with regret is of greater impact than pursuing and persevering. The ‘why’ was to fulfil the gaps within organisations whereby the top-down approach is unaware of the impact changes have on the operational staff and more so to aid those gaps.

3. What is your role in the business?

A. Although my current positions are Business Director, Shareholder, and Part Owner of Aspire Solutions, we all tend to lend a hand within any aspect of day-to-day tasks, even making coffee for staff and clients.

Technically as the Business Director, I take care of business functions namely HR, Finance and Business Development with the addition of Project Management and Change and Transformation within the operational side.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

A. Although not fortunate enough to have fulfilled the standard lifestyle of school and tertiary education, I opted to gain an understanding of people and business by taking on temp jobs for almost 4 years, an internship in graphic design and DTP. I went on to accept a permanent position, by studying BCom Law through correspondence, of which at the time I was unable to leave my stable income to do the required articles/internship. I switched to Industrial Psychology, which was then not aligned to my role in Finance.

Finally, I had to accept that I was meant to be in an environment that is ever-changing, such as technology. I went on the study the required accreditations within Project Management, Business Analysis and Solution Architecture, feeling a lot more satisfied with the outcome.

5. How did you finance your business?

A. As a consultancy, you run a very low expense, as your IP is your product, so I was able to ensure that my bare minimum was covered by the fees charged. Therefore, I can say it fulfilled a process of self-funding.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

A. If this exists with any entrepreneur, then I would bow down. Average is something we aren’t able to relate to. The greatest myth with being a business owner is having your own time, as you tend to give so much more to your business. An example is planning leave for yourself; I recently travelled abroad and although my business partner was adamant that I take a break, I realised it was a lot harder for me to not check mails and not get involved in certain areas. My greatest lesson thus far is – Prioritise what you need to for today, the rest will fall into place if you plan accordingly.

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

A. I am lucky that my family understand my ambition and the sacrifices made for all of us, i.e. ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ I have been a lot more aware of my weekends where before I would let work run into Saturdays and plan on a Sunday evening. I would say it is something you have to teach yourself from the onset, to prioritise family as they might be the reason we work hard, but time is the one thing you are unable to take back. So currently I spend more time planning my time to ensure that the balance exists.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

A. The current society, the millennials who have all the answers and the grit to get out there and make it happen! This inspires me to balance the scale and remind firstly my family that hard work and effort can always humble you. Getting your hands dirty gives you a sense of moral gratification and that life is not what the world dictates, but rather how important it is to be authentic and strive for what you believe in. Share and impart lessons and knowledge, spread the disease of kindness, and encourage the youth to stay unique and be true.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

A. Truthfully, mostly in the shower. When I have been through anything difficult personally, I somehow tend to find creativity through trauma, which can be a healthy outlet when we sit and struggle through difficulty.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

A. It has mainly been through mine and Mike, my business partner’s network, we create sustainability with the clients who often recommends us. We have recently been bold within networks of recognition, such as InspiringFifty and Standard Bank Top Women, including articles of interest. However, although it aids our credibility, it has not been a key source.

11. What is next for your business?

A. With a clear focus in the Aspire Academy and the hunger to educate, we have made strides in partnering with accredited institutions to ensure a formal approach and a valued outcome for those attending. Although the Academy is self-funded with no fee to the attendees, we pride ourselves in enabling young minds. Secondly, the incubator of products under Aspire Technologies, a sister company, are refining and looking at product-based solutions based on the credibility attained with Aspire Solutions. We are currently looking into Hedging opportunities to ensure sustainability once more. Hopefully, this drives the process to land in your ‘average day’ in the future.

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

A. Perseverance and failure, two key words that require balance. Failure is needed for you to build a tolerance for both the industry and to learn from it. Your ammunition is perseverance to ensure you keep going and do not let failure get you down. Remind yourself of your purpose and that things might not happen overnight; our goals are like elephants – amazing to admire but too big to consume in one sitting. Break it down bit by bit and take in the views surrounding it in the process.

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