How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Muslim Mentors
By Sanaa Asif
While the Covid-19 pandemic robbed many of a sense of normalcy, there was a silver lining for some. Job losses and no social life enabled people to explore creative interests and try novel business ventures. Just like someone on a fitness journey may reach out to a personal trainer, new entrepreneurs began seeking advice from business coaches to help navigate their transition to business owners.
Bushra Murad from Canton, Mich., is the owner of Barakah Boutique, an Islamic lifestyle business of high-quality products curated from different Muslim creatives. She started her business in 2020, just a few months after she had joined a Muslim entrepreneurship group. “That group was how I started learning from different Muslim businesses,” Murad said. “It gave me the confidence to take the leap of faith.”
Asma Iqbal, from Northern Virginia, had just started her Islamic gift wrap business when she was intrigued by a free business workshop she saw online. “I signed up and was blown away by the content and community that came with it,” Iqbal said. Her venture, Mubarak Paper Co. focuses on high-quality Islamic kid centered gift-wrapping products and specialty items like Eid ribbon and stickers. Soon after taking the workshop, she joined a one-year Islamic business coaching group.
Islam and Business Advice
Both entrepreneurs observed that their business coaches helped in jump-starting and rapidly growing their businesses. However, what stood out most was how their coaches integrated Islamic values into their guidance. “It’s very beneficial to have a Muslim coach because they’ll keep you in check in terms of what your intention is or what is the end goal of your business,” Murad said. Often, Muslim coaches meld strategies they’ve learned from non-Muslim coach mentors with Islamic values to bring holistic advice to Muslim clients. Murad often has exclusive sales in her boutique where all proceeds go towards Muslims in crisis.
Hafsa Taher, from Toronto, Ont., used to run a business before she became a sought-after business coach for Muslim women. She urges her clients to merge Islam and business to become a stronger believer. She highlights the fact that Muslims should strive to live with the end goal of earning a place in Paradise. “What if your business is one of the ways you get to Jannah?” Taher asks. “It could be making someone’s life easier or making one person smile. These all could be ways of earning good deeds.”
Some entrepreneurs argue that having a Muslim business coach isn’t necessary, as many coaches from other faiths also cherish values like spending time with your family and practicing good ethics. However, having a Muslim business coach can bring more to the table. For instance, Taher shares “Business duas you can make on the Day of Arafah” on her social media. Some of her most popular posts are “Islamic Affirmations for Muslim Entrepreneurs” and how you can “Post Less, Sell More” so you can spend more time with the people you love.
Tie Your Camel, But Don’t Strangle It
An important Islamic value often discussed in the business world is rizq. Loosely translated as provision, rizq can be defined as anything that benefits or brings goodness. Taher reminds her clients that God is the source of all rizq — not products, sales, or clients. She believes it is necessary for businesses to bring the hustle into working toward their goals, instead of sitting back, waiting for God to provide for them. However, she believes in working smarter, not harder.
Her popular analogy is “Tie your camel but don’t strangle it.” What is strangling a camel? Taher says that means hustling so hard that you can’t even breathe. Hustling like you provide for yourself. You make the plants grow. Where in fact God is Ar-Razzaq (The Ultimate Provider.)
What is a Good Business Coach?
A good business coach not only helps to grow a business, but also helps to equip a business owner with the tools they need to be successful. Just like a personal trainer can’t actually do the push ups for you, but he or she can show you good form. A trainer can suggest the best times to work out, and what to eat before or after.
“A good business coach will equip you with the skills, tools, and habits for you to become independent,” Taher said. “A good coach will make sure you can think independently and you’re trusting your own instincts to move forward in your venture.”
Finding a Good Business Coach
For someone just starting in their business, it can be difficult to choose which business coach will suit their needs and fit their budget.
“I think it is important to look at the coaches themselves,” Murad suggests. “Check out their qualifications, experience, and the type of industries they have worked in, because that will help you to decide if they would be a good fit for your business.” For example, if your business is product-based, a business coach specializing in selling products would be more beneficial than a coach specializing in providing services.
“Shop around,” said Iqbal. “Many coaches offer free introductory workshops or go live on social media. That’s a cost-effective way to see if their values align with yours. Make a list of what you hope to gain from a coach.” The most important thing when finding a business coach is making sure that they are able to help the business where it needs it most, such as email marketing, or product pricing.
Short Term or Longer
Depending on your business needs and size, your relationship with a business coach can be for a few months or even a few years. After a few months of having a business coach, Iqbal realized it was more beneficial for her to join a group of like-minded small business owners she trusted. She preferred to openly discuss anything business-related with a group of entrepreneurs.
Murad, on the other hand, Bushra thinks a business coach is a valuable investment. Accountability is one of the biggest advantages. “A good coach will bring a new and fresh perspective which can help you with growth,” she said. “But of course, you have to be ready to follow their suggestions and do the heavy lifting.”
Sanaa is a student at Hinsdale Central High School. She is an avid reader and loves to write and learn about other people’s stories.