Who else can be more emotionally disturbed than a kid seeing his father being paralyzed so suddenly? Same was the turning point in Danish’s life, who was just a grade 6 student when his father got paralyzed. Before that, he was living a life of a carefree kid but that was the time, he felt changes in his family life. It was hard, the situation was getting harder each day, he saw his family struggling for everything. He can still feel his father trying to move his paralyzed hand. The last time he asked him for something was a bicycle during his student life which he could not fulfill. Things got changed, not in a blink of an eye but with patience, continuous struggle and learning from every mistake, he made.
During his student life, he tried to limit the burden on his father for his studies. He preferred to get admission in affordable institutions. He got admission in Software Engineering in one of the universities of Islamabad. He felt how difficult it was for his father to pay his first semester fee. According to him, a single statement of his father made him to change his perspective towards life. He wanted him to pay his next semester fee. It was his approach to prepare him for the worst, to bring him out of the comfort zone and this is where the journey began.
He prepared himself for the type of jobs, he never had imagined before. The only job which he found suitable for himself as being a student and inexperienced; was a job of a sales man. He applied at a local shopping mall and was offered a job at a warehouse, where he had to clean the rice and beans. He accepted that but being in a strange place for the first time in his life, it was very difficult for him to manage. He then got a salesman job at a local grocery shop on part time basis. He used to sit at the shop after his classes. His basic concern was to earn enough money to pay his fee. He felt that what he is earning is not enough, so he kept on searching for other opportunities.
Where there is a way, there is a will. Studying software, developed his interest in website designing. He started learning it through online resources and kept on searching for online jobs. He then got an online unpaid internship in US based, South by South West Company just for gaining experience. His job was all about maintaining data and dealing with the investors. During his job, he got to know about the startups and entrepreneurship. Side by side, he was polishing his skills in website designing and website creation. He started searching for the opportunities how he can earn by utilizing his skills.
He got to know about Fiverr and freelancer.com where he created his profile. Being new in the market, his portfolio was not that strong, so he started working on less worthy projects. He earned Rs. 7000 from his very first project. His second project was worth Rs. 30,000. He started receiving small tasks and he kept on doing these to make his profile stronger. It took 6 years of him to achieve what he aimed for. The journey was long, full of hurdles, struggles and disappointments. Still he made it with his efforts. He is now the owner of Infinity, a graphic designing company.
Issues faced during Journey:
The lack of awareness about freelancing in Pakistan created issues for him to start his journey in 2013.
- Discouragement from the people by calling it as fake and spam.
- By showing a negative image of having no bright future and non-guaranteed.
- Non cooperative and non-supportive existing freelancers.
- Lack of proper understanding of dealing with the clients.
- Due to non-awareness among the youngsters, he wasn’t able to work in a team.
Hurdles in a way:
Freelancing needs patience, passion and consistency. It’s not that easy one can imagine but it can be done easily when one has high level of interest.
- It was the time when load shedding in Pakistan was at its peak. Due to lack of resources like UPS or generator, everything was solely relied upon the availability of electricity. Due to this, sometimes the timely preparation of the projects got missed and delivery to the clients got late.
- Issues in handling payments due to non-awareness about the payment modes.
- Flow of getting projects was not smooth, sometimes it would be just one project and sometimes it would be few in a month.
Achievements so far:
He achieved what he desired for. He once shared with his friend a wish for buying a car before the degree completion which seemed impossible. But with his continuous struggle, he proved himself and had 2 cars at the time of his degree completion.
His interest in website and graphic designing led him to work with the Microsoft for 2 years as a Microsoft Student Partner. Being a freelancer for the last 6 years, he has dealt with 2500 clients and earned up to 20 Million Rupees till now. His prominent clients are Nestle, Unilever, BMU, Honda and T-series.
According to him, his biggest achievement is becoming a freelancing trainer. Up till now he has trained 500 students for freelancing, under the umbrella of E Rozgar Scheme by PITB. He helped them changed their lives and way of thinking. Today, the average income of his students is PKR 30 to 40K.
Failures are the lessons:
Don’t forget that failures and mistakes are actually the lessons for tomorrow. Don’t waste your five days thinking over a problem which you know will be meaningless after five days. Analyze your bigger problems which you think may affect you for the next five years and find a solution for it. Every failure has a way out. You fall hard only when you run fast. You feel the intensity of running fast only when you get hurt. But by falling hard that doesn’t mean to never run again, that means to get up and start again, but this time with full concentration on the point where you last fell.
Danish Iftikhar is planning to expand his company. He is further planning to design a brand agency in Pakistan, that can provide services throughout the world. He aims to grow it to the level that if someone talks about web branding or designing, Infinity comes to the mind first.
He wants to train more youngsters for freelancing so that the fresh graduates, who are currently unemployed can stand on their feet and help grow the economy of Pakistan.
Advice to the Young Generation:
To achieve your higher goals, you have to set aside your ego. There is no shame in starting things on a small scale. You will have to keep your feet on each step of the ladder, only then you will be able to climb up the ladder.
Secondly, focusing on the communication skills of the students must be kept prioritized by our education system. Communications skills in any field, matter a lot. Thirdly, you can never win if you step back due to failures. The next time you try, learn from the previous lessons and move forward.
You are young, you might not have these options tomorrow. If you spend all this time in searching for employment, you can lose many other things. Make yourself to the level, that people come after you, instead you go after them. Money is not everything, but you cannot survive without money. Try not to run for money, but if you have skills, utilize them, and money will come after you. Enhance your skills and knowledge and share it for the cause of humanity. When it comes to the representation of yourself and your country, do it perfectly. You never know things you are ignoring today, may become your requirement tomorrow.