Running a small business has come to be a hallmark of the Muslim community. Everywhere you look, you see brothers and sisters running halal food restaurants, grocers, clothing shops, contracting firms and other types of businesses. The appeal of treading the path of entrepreneurship and business in the Muslim community is obvious: The freedom that comes along with it (read: taking off for Jumuah, Eid, etc) and the ability to control much of what is done day to day thus ensuring that one’s Islamic values go uncompromised.
No doubt, all of this is commendable and I ask the Almighty to bless all of our endeavors. However, after observation and speaking to many of our brothers and sisters who own businesses and strive to make a halal living, I have noticed that very few Muslim business owners show great importance towards growing their small businesses to eventually become medium-sized businesses and beyond. What’s more is that many of these business owners have no growth/marketing strategy mapped out let alone implemented. I don’t have to tell you that this is something detrimental in a market where only the most ambitious succeed in the long-term.
Now, if you’re happy where you’re at then that’s fine. But what if I told you that you are leaving a lot of khair (goodness) on the table by not having the ambition to grow your business? After all, can you have too much of a good thing?
Here are 3 reasons why growing your small business should be considered a duty upon you as a Muslim business owner:
Reason 1: Your Business is an Asset
Those of us who’ve read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad (highly recommended) know that an asset is something that you own which generates income (pays you). The great thing about assets is that they can be sold or passed on to future generations if they maintain or increase their value. As an asset, a business is no different. You have to understand that the small business that you have now could be something that you pass on to your kids and grandkids one day. Think of it as a tree. The better care you take to grow it, the bigger it gets. And the bigger it gets, the more shade and fruit it can produce for you AND those after you. You definitely owe it to them to work on growing it now so that they have a shot at a secure future.
Reason 2: A Larger Business Benefits the Community at Large
Continuing on with the theme of a tree, the larger tree provides more opportunities for other people to benefit. More people are fed, more people are put to work harvesting, etc.
Bigger Tree, More Fruits
I was just listening to a podcast the other day while I was in the gym and the guest being interviewed talked about how he was on a boat ride with Richard Branson around his private island when he expressed a bit of guilt about spending more time on his business, making more money and less time doing volunteer work at his local soup kitchen. Richard Branson told him that the work that he was doing would wind up having exponentially more impact than volunteering at a soup kitchen because a check for a few thousand dollars sent to that soup kitchen as a donation would help more people than serving a few dozen people for a few hours.
And we all know the virtues of Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), the noble companion of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa salam) who utilized his vast wealth to benefit the Muslims even until this day (his date farm is still the source of the dates in which the Muslims have to break their fasts in the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medinah). Image the kind of sadaqah jaariyyah (perpetual charity) you could have by growing your business, allowing you to better serve your community by providing more jobs and donations?
Reason 3: Providing More Value to More People
In today’s age, there is an essential ingredient to sustaining and growing a business: passion. Without passion, your business will fail. I like to define passion as the burning desire to help people with their problems. If your business has customers (if it didn’t then it’s not a business) then your business is solving a problem. If you run a store that sells Islamic clothing then people come to this store because they need access to Islamic clothing that’s affordable, that fits, etc. The business is addressing people’s needs which is good. However, the real question is: How passionate are you about helping your brothers and sisters access Islamic clothing that’s affordable, that fits, etc? Is it just a means to make money or do you really feel good about helping your audience with their problem(s)?
If your answer is the former then you’ll never grow because today’s business trends are all about providing value to people. But, if your answer is the latter, then you should know that growing your business is the way to provide more value to more people and help more people solve their problems. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was your Islamic clothing brand proving hijabs to every new Muslim revert sister in need of one across the city? The region? The country? The world? As Muslim business owners, it’s time to up our ambitions.
As a Muslim business owner, growing your small business is duty and responsibility upon you because you help more people whether they be your close relatives, or your community, or people at large. We’ve discussed the why in this part and in the next part, insha’Allah, we will discuss the how; how to grow your small business. In the meantime, leave a comment below and let us know your take.
Abdul-Karim is the executive marketing director of Alamia Global. He loves helping people start, run, and grow their businesses online. When he's not managing his clients' online marketing or blogging, you can catch him cozying up to a book, pumping iron in the gym, or enjoying an outing with his wife and two daughters.
Alamia Global is a digital marketing consultancy that empowers small businesses, independent contractors, and freelancers with the know-how and tools to showcase and deliver the benefits of their local products and services to a global audience.