Revenue First Entrepreneurship with Afifa Siddiqui

Revenue First Entrepreneurship with Afifa Siddiqui

“Call it old school if you want, but I think the customer and revenue should come first.” Our CEO, Afifa Siddiqui joined Varika and Ghanika Pinnam on the Think IDA podcast to talk female leadership and entrepreneurship. Afifa shared her journey as an entrepreneur and made the case for business leaders to put revenue, not investment first.  

As a serial entrepreneur who’s scaled three businesses in the HR space, Afifa considers herself a native and developed entrepreneur. No one comes to entrepreneurship with all the skills and habits that will eventually make them successful; they must develop them over time. For Afifa, that meant combining her native drive with discipline. Entrepreneurship is a chaotic “job,” one that requires structure.  

Likewise, no entrepreneur should try to do everything. Instead, says Afifa, you need to surround yourself with problem solvers who know things you don’t. Small businesses and startups should look for broad experience in their early hires, not specialized expertise. Keeping yourself open to people’s potential allows you and them some flexibility.  

“Build it and they will come,” she says, is poor motto for entrepreneurs who want to build businesses that succeed. They might come, or they might not. Instead, Afifa says, focus on developing an MVP that you can sell to at least one customer. From the beginning, build with a real customer base in mind. “If someone will pay you to solve their problem, you’re on to something.”  

The funding journey can be difficult, and frankly, unfair. As a new founder in the wake of 9/11, Afifa struggled to secure funding. “As a young brown woman, no one would give me a loan or investment.” Instead, she bet on herself. Afifa sold her house to start that first company. While that personal history does inform her view of relying on funding, Afifa points out that relying on multiple rounds of funding puts you in debt to those funders, and as a busines leader, in a position of weakness.  

“Always be the majority owner.”  

You can listen to the whole podcast here.  

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